I Know This Much Is True cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes on shooting 600 hours of 35mm film for the new HBO series

I Know This Much Is True is a decades-spanning, tragedy-laden emotional ravaging and then catharsis about coming to terms with the shortcomings of ourselves, our families and country, and the healing power of acceptance and forgiveness. The story centers around a pair of twins—Thomas, a  frequently institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic, and Dominick, a house painter struggling with the burden of being his brother’s keeper. Both are played by Mark Ruffalo, who took a six-week break in the middle of production to put on 30 pounds to transform into Thomas.

I spoke to cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes (A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodManchester by the Sea) for Filmmaker Magazine about pulling off Ruffalo’s “twinning,” planning as the enemy of inspiration, and winning over director Derek Cianfrance to the ways of the zoom lens.

Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/HBO

Interview: The Invisible Man cinematographer Stefan Duscio

With movie theaters across the globe shuttering, Universal is making three of its current theatrical releases – Emma, The Hunt, and The Invisible Man – available on demand starting today for $19.99. Here’s an interview I did for Filmmaker Magazine a few weeks ago with Invisible Man cinematographer Stefan Duscio, who talks about using motion control rigs to bring the titular monster to life as well as using a prototype version of the Alexa Mini LF.

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.

Continue Reading ›