Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski on shooting horror in the glaring sun for Midsommar

My talk with Midsommar cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski is now up on Filmmaker Magazine. The folk horror tale re-teams Pogorzelski and his Hereditary director Ari Aster. Shot on the Panavision DLX2 with Panavison Primo Primes and Primo Artiste 70mm lenses.

Here’s Pogorzelski breaking down one of the film’s distinctive drone shots:

Filmmaker: There’s a shot when the Americans are first driving to Hårga where a drone flies from the front of the car to the back. As the drone moves, the camera rotates 180 degrees so that the image is upside down when it reaches the other side of the vehicle. I don’t remember ever seeing that shot before.

Pogorzelski: We found very good drone operators in Hungary, where the Sweden-set scenes were filmed, but at first they told us it was impossible to do that shot. I kept doing research and found a way, which was basically a custom-made drone with a gimbal head — I think it was a Ronin — that could hold an Alexa Mini. Then you had to bypass the drone’s software to tell it to tilt more than [the software] would normally allow. I asked the drone operators if they would try that for me and they were a bit reluctant because that drone is their baby. The first day we flew it, the drone died as it took off. So we had to do the shot again on a day that was a little bit too overcast, but it was the only day we had left to get the shot. It was very windy, but the operators were able to keep the drone flying straight, which was quite impressive. I think we did it four or five times and every time [the drone operators] were very nervous. I was always like, “One more, one more. We can do it better.” And they were always like, “Are you sure? I think we’ve got it.” (laughs)

Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis on shooting the doppelgängers of Us

The latest entry in my Shutter Angles column for Filmmaker Magazine is a chat with Us cinematographer Mike Gioulakis. Shot on Arri/Zeiss Master Primes with an emphasis on practical effects, which included storyboarding nearly the entire film in order to mainly use clever blocking, framing, and editing to sell the movie’s doppelganger effect rather than relying on digital tricks like face replacements.

Gioulakis also breaks down a half dozen specific shots from the film, including the opening credits’ long pullback shot of a wall of caged bunnies.

Cinematographer Sean Porter on shooting Green Book

Here’s my interview with Green Book director of photography Sean Porter (Green Room, 20th Century Women) from Filmmaker Magazine. This is actually my 100th interview piece for Filmmakerall of which you can find here.

As for the Porter piece, here’s a little preview with Sean talking about his shift from old Cooke lenses to newer Leica glass.

Interview: A Star Is Born cinematographer Matthew Libatique

My talk with A Star Is Born cinematographer Matthew Libatique is up over at Filmmaker Magazine. The film was shot on Arri Alexa Minis with Cooke/i SF Camtec Vintage Series and Kowa Cine Prominar anamorphic lenses. Here’s a preview, where Libatique discusses using the Kowas, what he loves about anamorphic, and why he stays loyal to the same rental house.

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Interview: First Man cinematographer Linus Sandgren

Here’s a link to my latest piece for Filmmaker Magazine – an interview with First Man cinematographer Linus Sandgren. The Neil Armstrong biopic was shot on a mixture of Super 16mm, 35mm and 70mm IMAX with many of the effects created practically in camera by placing spacecraft replicas on gimbals in an Atlanta soundstage decked out with giant LED screens. The climactic moon scenes were shot in an Atlanta quarry and lit entirely with one 200K bulb created specifically for the film. Production had only two of the prototype bulbs – one of which blew on its first day of use.

A snippet of the story is below. Also, check out my previous talk with Sandgren about his Oscar-winning work on La La Land.

Cinematographer Darran Tiernan talks Westworld Season 2

“I’ve been a cinematographer for 20 years, so I started on film and the majority of things I’ve shot have been on film, but when I got Westworld I hadn’t shot film for three years. I was actually terrified, to be honest. (laughs) I was quite nervous, but it ended up being absolutely wonderful to work on film again. I missed it. There is a reverence on set when the camera is spitting film through its gate. That’s the sound of money. Everybody is concentrated on what they’re doing. With digital, sometimes people don’t have the same self-control and they just keep shooting.” – Cinematographer Darran Tiernan

Check out my interview for Filmmaker Magazine with Darran Tiernan, who lensed five of the ten episodes of Westworld’s second season. Shot on 35mm with Arri Zeiss Master Primes and 75mm-400mm Fujinon Premier zooms.

Another sample….

Filmmaker: At this point I’m only through episode 3, which ends in a large scale battle between Delos security forces and a band of hosts holed up at Fort Forlorn Hope. How difficult is that scale to achieve on a TV schedule?

Tiernan: That battle sequence was shot over three days. Most of the real big battle scenes were shot on one massive day where we had seven cameras. We shot one direction in the morning, we shot another direction mid-day and then another direction in the evening. The next day we blew up the field in front of the fort. We had to plan it like a proper battle, deciding where every camera was going to go for each sequence. It was quite a phenomenal thing to be involved in, with so many departments all in sync in order to pull it off in the time that we had.

I also remember it being incredibly hot. Evan Rachel Wood [who plays Dolores] discovered that the electricians had a heat gun, which is this device that you can point at something and it will tell you the temperature rising off it. At one point she came up to me and said, “It’s 115 degrees on the ground.” All those poor Confederados in their wool period suits. (laughs) 

 

Cinematographer Sam Levy talks Lady Bird

Check out my interview with Lady Bird director of photography Sam Levy for Filmmaker Magazine.

Tech Info
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lenses: Panavision Ultra Speeds and Super Speeds
Misc: Shot at 2K ProRes, with the camera rated at 1280 for day exteriors and 1600 for interior work

Here’s Levy on the film’s preproduction prep:

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Cinematographer Rachel Morrison talks Mudbound

Mudbound frame grabs

Check out my Filmmaker Magazine interview with Rachel Morrison regarding her work on Netflix’s Mudbound. Set in post-World War II rural Mississippi, Mudbound was shot on Alexa Minis using Panavision PVintage spherical lenses and Panavision B, C, and D series anamorphic glass.

Continue onward for a few set pics and a snippet from the interview in which Morrison breaks down the pros and cons of working with film vs. digital. Continue Reading ›