Five Frames: Bone Tomahawk cinematographer Benji Bakshi

The Film: Bone Tomahawk
The Cinematographer: Benji Bakshi
The Tools: Shot on Red Epic Dragon
The Plot: In this western, four disparate men (sheriff Kurt Russell and deputy Richard Jenkins, accompanied by Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox) embark on a rescue mission to retrieve Wilson’s wife from a tribe of cannibalistic cave dwellers.
Further Reading: Check out my interview with Bone Tomahawk director S. Craig Zahler for Filmmaker Magazine.

How was your experience with the Red Epic Dragon?
Benji Bakshi: The Dragon was a serious improvement from previous models. Color was much more accurate and the latitude has improved, which was essential for our day exteriors. As always I tend to underexpose with Red, which gives more room in the highlights. The Dragon was improved in the shadows as well versus previous models, but in testing I saw noise at the toe. Knowing we intended to ride the edge of darkness, I set up a LUT to crush the shadows, which forced me to put light there. On set sometimes people would mention it was very dark, but I knew when the LUT was removed it would reveal lots of detail in the shadows, which proved to be the case. Normally I lift the shadows by using atmosphere (haze) but since our sets weren’t airtight the haze would have drifted in shot so in general I didn’t use it. So the LUT took the place of physical atmosphere to put light into the shadows. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames with The Final Girls cinematographer Elie Smolkin

 

The Film: The Final Girls
The Cinematographer: Elie Smolkin
The Tools: Shot on the Red Epic with short Angenieux zooms and Cooke S4 lenses
The Plot: On the one-year anniversary of her Scream Queen mother’s death, a young woman (Taissa Farmiga) and her friends are transported into her mom’s most famous movie – a campy camp slasher à la The Burning.

The deconstruction of the 1980s slasher film began before the corpse of the short-lived subgenre was even cold. Student Bodies (1981) started digging the grave. Scream (1996) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012) disinterred the body and scattered the pieces.

So why tune in for another poke at the carcass of the stalk-and-slash flick? Because The Final Girls is more than just another mocking of the slasher film’s “sin equals death” conservatism.

It’s a PG-13 comedy that captures the spirit of the “dead teenager” movie without the gruesomeness. It’s a visually inventive delight that, rather than emulating the look of Friday the 13th, presents its alternative reality as a Technicolor world awash in purples and hyper-saturated greens. And, most importantly, it has a heart at its center thanks to an emotional turn from Farmiga as the grieving daughter.

The Final Girls cinematographer, Elie Smolkin, broke down a few shots from the film for us.

Check out other interviews in the Five Frames series here. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames with Body Parts writer/director Eric Red

I turned 13 in the winter of 1990. It’s not a touchstone of youth with many official perks. There’s no driver’s license. No right to vote. No bars. Just skin blemishes, hormones and general awkwardness. However, my entry into teendom came with one important fringe benefit – my parents declared me mature enough to partake in horror movies in the theater. And partake I did. From Misery and The Silence of the Lambs to Candyman and Dr. Giggles, if a horror film hit theaters, I was there.

That era is now viewed as a time of relative dormancy for the genre between cresting slasher movie cycles, but I still hold great affection for those films. That includes 1991’s Body Parts. A variation on The Hands of Orlac, Body Parts stars Jeff Fahey as a criminal psychologist who has the arm of a murderer transplanted onto his body with predictably grisly results.

Body Parts writer/director Eric Red – the scribe of The Hitcher and Near Dark – revisited the film with me nearly 25 years after its initial release. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames with It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis

I recently interviewed It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis for Filmmaker Magazinea piece you can read here – and had so much good stuff left over that I decided to post a bit of the overflow. Continue onward as Gioulakis walks us through the specifics of how he created five of the film’s memorable frames. Continue Reading ›