The Shot Behind the Shot: On the set of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987)

(Above) Al Capone henchman Frank Nitti plummets to his death in this scene from Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables. (Photo by unit stills photographer Zade Rosenthal)

The pic above – along with the one below from De Palma’s Battleship Potemkin homage shot at Chicago Union Station – comes from a recently republished article on The Untouchables from American Cinematographer magazine.

Check out more from our Shot Behind the Shot series.

The Shot Behind the Shot – Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

Behind the scenes of HBO's Fahrenheit 451

Behind the scenes of the HBO retelling of Ray Bradbury’s classic sci-fi cautionary tale Fahrenheit 451. Shot by cinematographer Kramer Morganthau on Panasonic’s 4K VariCam 35 with Panavision Super Speed and Ultra Speed legacy primes. The lighting units you see on frame right – both sitting on the ground and perched on the stand – are Arri SkyPanels.

The set pic on the left comes from American Cinematographer magazine’s feature on the film from the June issue, which you can read here.

“Now yous can’t leave” – Bikers vs. Gangsters on the set of A Bronx Tale (1993)

A Bronx Tale behind the scenes

Chazz Palminteri prepares to drag a camera operator across a bar room floor on a sound blanket in order to get a POV shot of Palminteri’s gangster character yanking a biker out of his bar in 1993’s A Bronx Tale. I first saw this one when I rented it from Video Village on VHS when I was 16. It’s still my favorite movie.

Here’s the full bikers vs. gangsters melee from the film.

Pic of the Day – Behind the scenes of The Passion of the Christ (2004)

The Passion of the Christ behind the scenes, photo by philippe antonello

Unit stills photographer Philippe Antonello captured this silhouetted camera crew on the set of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004). The film held the record for highest grossing R-rated movie at the American box office before being dethroned in February of 2016 by Deadpool.

Pic of the Day – On the set of Heat (1995)

I was doing a bit of reading up on Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) before revisiting the movie on Netflix and I came across these set photos over at Cinephilia and Beyond. Cinephilia’s post also offers a downloadable PDF of the script.

I also recommend this “making of” story from Empire magazine and this 2012 interview with Mann from DGA Quarterly.

Here’s a nugget from the Empire piece about the film’s origins…

…(Mann) first got the idea in the mid-’70s, when a friend of his, ex-Chicago cop Chuck Adamson (a technical consultant on Thief) told him of the time he took a criminal he had under surveillance for a cup of coffee. That criminal’s name was Neil McCauley.

And here’s Mann on Heat’s famed Al Pacino/Robert De Niro coffee scene, from the DGA interview.

“We shot that scene with three cameras, two over-the-shoulders and one profile shot, but I found when editing that every time we cut to the profile, the scene lost its one-on-one intensity. I’ll often work with multiple cameras, if they’re needed. In this case, I knew ahead of time that Pacino and De Niro were so highly attuned to each other that each take would have its own organic unity. Whatever one said, and the specific way he’d say it, would spark a specific reaction in the other. I needed to shoot in such a way that I could use the same take from both angles. What’s in the finished film is almost all of take 11—because that has an entirely different integrity and tonality from takes 10, or 9, or 8. All of this begins and ends with scene analysis. It doesn’t matter if it’s two people in a room or two opposing forces taking over a street. Action comes from drama, and drama is conflict: What’s the conflict?”

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On the set of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

In honor of Wes Anderson turning 49 today, here’s a collection of photos from the making of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Many of these were snapped by the film’s unit stills photographer Philippe Antonello.

Pics collected from a variety of sources, including the Criterion Collection and IMDB. Continue Reading ›

Pic of the Day – On the set of Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Behind the Scenes Kong Skull Island Brie Larson photo by chuck zlotnick

Brie Larson, John C. Reilly and John Goodman on the graveyard set of Kong: Skull Island (2017). Pic by Unit Stills Photographer Chuck Zlotnick. To read more about the making of the film, check out this story from International Cinematographers Guild Magazine.

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