Interview: Russian Doll cinematographer Chris Teague

 

Chris Teague (Obvious Child, Landline) talks going back to Red for Russian Doll, futzing with split diopters, and the difficulty of balancing a personal life with a TV series schedule in my latest interview for Filmmaker Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt, with Teague discussing his use of Leica Summilux lenses.

Filmmaker: You owned a set of Cooke Speed Panchros for years, but for Russian Doll you went with Leica Summilux lenses.

Teague: Yeah, I shot almost everything on vintage lenses before Russian Doll. They didn’t feel appropriate for this except for the flashback sequences in episode seven, which we shot on Super Baltars. This felt like a modern, contemporary, hyper-real landscape and I loved the idea of having super fast lenses that I could shoot wide open all the time. The concept in my head, which is maybe too literal, was that Nadia was out of step with her world, and if we used fast lenses with very shallow depth of field she’d always feel like she was popping out of her background. I really fell in love with how those lenses look. The wide lenses [have minimal distortion], so we could do some things on super wide lenses. I shot a couple of scenes on a 16mm lens and I never would’ve done something like that before. I love a wide lens where you have that incredible open field of view, but you’re not so distracted by the way it’s warping the space. The Leicas are fantastic lenses. They’re also small and light, so we could keep the camera’s [footprint] smaller. That was a plus when shooting in tiny New York locations.