Frame by Frame – Three O’Clock High (1987)

Year1987
Decade1980s
CinematographerBarry Sonnenfeld (imdb link)
DirectorPhil Joanou
Aspect Ratio1.85
DistributorUniversal
GenreComedy
LensesSpherical
Format35mm

Categories
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Character Introduction
Inserts
High and Low Angles
Rack Focus
Cross Dissolves
Full Shots
Profile
Silhouettes
Unusual Camera Perspectives
Venetian Blinds

The Movie

A “new student” profile piece for the school paper turns into an adolescent nightmare for a timid reporter (Casey Siemaszko) when the story’s subject (Richard Tyson) challenges him to an after school showdown. Siemaszko spends the remander of the day attempting to escape the confines of the school before the final bell tolls. Director Phil Joanou – who was just 24 when production began, making him younger than both his leading men – saw the film as a pubescent nod to Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

“The original script was called After School and was very much a John Hughes style comedy, very broad with lots of slapstick. When I came on I had really loved Martin Scorsese’s movie AFTER HOURS (1985). If you compare Scorsese’s film with my film, you will see that I was heavily influenced by AFTER HOURS, as in I stole a ton of stuff from it! In the film, Griffin Dunne is trapped down in SoHo and no matter what he does, he can’t escape his fate. It’s very similar to 3 O’CLOCK HIGH in that this kid is trapped in high school and no matter what he does, he can’t escape. The original script was much more about him having to confront the bully, and I added ”Well, what if he tried everything he could think of to get kicked out.” The ticking clock and the trapped hero were what I brought to 3 O’CLOCK HIGH. I also tried to make it much more of a black comedy as opposed to a straight-ahead teen comedy.” – director Phil Joanou, from an interview with Money Into Light

Shot on location in Ogden, Utah over 33 days, Three O’Clock High failed to make back its $6 million budget while in theaters. It’s developed a bit of a cult following over the years – culminating in a Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory – and has been a favorite of mine since childhood. Roger Ebert, however, was not a fan of the stylishly shot movie, awarding Three O’ Clock High one star and condemning it as an extension of Reagan era American machismo.

Hollywood teenage movies have been edging toward fascism for years. There once may have been a time when nice kids got ahead by being nice, but in today’s Hollywood, muscle and brute strength count for everything. – Roger Ebert, from the Chicago Sun-Times

 

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Frame by Frame: The Deuce – Season 1 (2017)

Year2017
Decade2010s
Cinematographers – Vanja Cernjul, Pepe Avila del Pino (pilot)
Director – various
Aspect Ratio1.78
DistributorHBO
GenreDrama; Period (1970s)
Camera – Panasonic VariCam35, Arri Alexa (pilot only)
Lenses –  SphericalPanavision PVintage; Panavision Primos (pilot only)
FormatDigital; Shot in V-Log in HD (1920×1080) resolution with ProRes 4444 compression

Categories
Night Exteriors           Car Shots                       Frames Within Frames     Bars
Silhouettes                   Wide Shots                    Full Shots                            High Angle
Title Cards                   Mirrors                           Shafts of Light
Mercury Vapor Streetlights                              Sodium Vapor Streetlights

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The Show
The legalization of pornography alters the lives of the denizens of New York’s seedy 42nd Street circa 1971. Continue Reading ›

Frame by Frame: Insecure – Season 2 (2017)

Insecure Season frame grabs

Year2017
Decade2010s
CinematographerAva Berkofsky (official site) and Patrick Cady
Director – various
Aspect Ratio1.78
DistributorHBO
GenreDrama
CameraArri Alexa
FormatSpherical

Other Key Words
Location – Los Angeles                    Short Siding                         Headroom

Further Reading
Interview with cinematographer Ava Berkofsky from Mic, which details Berkofsky’s approach to lighting the varying skin tones of Insecure


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Frame by Frame: The Stepfather (1987)

Year1987
Decade1980s
CinematographerJohn Lindley (imdb link)
DirectorJoseph Ruben (imdb link)
Aspect Ratio1.85
GenreHorror
LensesSpherical
Format35mm

Key Words
Shot-by-Shot Scene Breakdowns                    Camera Moves

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The Movie
A seemingly bland suburban realtor (Terry O’Quinn) marries into a widowed family and reacts violently when the clan doesn’t live up to his ideal of family values.

A link has frequently been drawn between the violence in the horror films of the 1980s – particularly the slasher flicks of the era – and the decade’s shift toward moral conservatism. When characters flaunted the tenants of the religious right that flourished under Reagan, their demise was swift. Have sex and you die. Take drugs and you die. Joseph Ruben’s clever low-budget thriller The Stepfather is one of the few films to intentionally and explicitly make that connection, presenting a portrait of unhinged patriarchy raging against the white middle class male’s dwindling influence that still feels relevant 30 years later.

Check out the movie while it’s streaming on Amazon Prime.
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Frame by Frame: Hell on Wheels – Season 1 (2011)

Year2011
Decade2010s
CinematographerElliot Davis (pilot), Marvin Rush (all other Season 1 episodes)
Director – multiple
Aspect Ratio1.78
DistributorAMC
GenreWestern
CameraArri Alexa
LensesSpherical
FormatDigital

Key Words

Silhouettes           Low Angles            Scene: Campfire              Candlelight
Day Exterior        Night Exterior       Desaturation                   Close-Ups
Wide Shots           Firearms 

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The Show
A freed slave (Common), an unscrupulous magnate (Colm Meaney), and a Confederate soldier hellbent on revenge (Anson Mount) are among the characters in this Western detailing the building of the first transcontinental railroad. The show ran for five seasons an AMC. Continue Reading ›

Frame by Frame: Friday the 13th (1980)

Year1980
Decade1980s
CinematographerBarry Abrams (imdb link)
DirectorSean S. Cunningham (imdb link)
Make-Up Effects – Tom Savini (imdb link)
Aspect Ratio
 – 1.85
DistributorParamount
GenreHorror, Slasher
LensesSpherical
Format35mm
Other Key Words
Point of View
Shot-by-Shot Scene Breakdowns

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Frame by Frame: Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

Year 2018
Decade – 2010s
Cinematographers – Kramer Morgenthau (IMDB link)
Director – Ramin Bahrani (IMDB link)
Aspect Ratio – 1.78
Distributor – HBO
Genre Sci-Fi
Cameras – Panasonic VariCam 35 (3840×2160 UHD with AVC-Intra compression) for the main cameras; Zenmuse X5S on a DJI Inspire 2 drone for wide aerial shots; GoPro Hero4 Black for point of view shots
Lenses – Zeiss Super Speeds for the main lenses; Panavision Primo zooms and Lensbaby Composor Pros (for flashbacks) were also used
Format Digital; Spherical
Miscellaneous – According to American Cinematographer magazine, Morgenthau favored the 29mm and 40mm Super Speeds and typically shot between a T1.4 and a T2.0. Director Ramin Bahrani’s visual references included Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil and The Trial.
Other Key Words
Opening Credits             Color               Flashbacks             Point of View              Night Exteriors

Further Reading
American Cinematographer magazine’s feature on the film, from the June 2018 issue
CinemaTechnic’s history of the Zeiss Super Speeds
Interview with cinematographer Kramer Morganthau from Panavison’s official site Continue Reading ›

Frame by Frame: Paterno (2018)

Paterno hbo frame grab

Year – 2018
Decade – 2010s
CinematographerMarcell Rév
Director – Barry Levinson
Aspect Ratio – 1.78
Distributor – HBO
Genre – Drama
CameraAlexa Mini (3.2K ProRes 4444 XQ)
Lenses – Spherical; detuned Panavision Primos
Format – Digital
*Some of Paterno’s flashback scenes were shot with 8mm and 16mm film, the latter with Arriflex 416 cameras and Arri Zeiss Standard Speed lenses
Other Key Words
Scene Breakdowns         Low key lighting              Highlights               Flashbacks

Thanks to Paterno director of photography Marcell Rév for providing me with tech specs. Check out his official site.

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