Shutter Angles

Conversations with DPs, directors and below-the-line crew by Matt Mulcahey

  • The Cine Reflect Lighting System on the set of By the Sea “Observation of the Natural Behavior of Light”: By the Sea Cinematographer Christian Berger

    Damaged by a personal tragedy and bludgeoned by 10 years of marriage, a blocked, alcoholic writer and his former dancer wife wallow in ennui at a remote seaside hotel in France circa 1970. It’s relatively heavy fare for movie stars the wattage of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie-Pitt, who also wrote and directed. But for By the Sea’s cinematographer Christian Berger, it’s practically a lighthearted romp compared to the subject matter of his many collaborations with director Michael Haneke, including Benny’s Video, Cache, and Berger’s Oscar-nominated work on The White Ribbon. There are certain perks that come with the Pitts’…  Read more

    On Dec 2, 2015
  • Living in Oblivion “Do You Mind If I Finance the Rest of the Film?” Tom DiCillo on Living in Oblivion

    In Living in Oblivion, Tom DiCillo’s 1995 triptych of the agony and ecstasy of indie film production, Murphy’s cinematic law is in full effect. Prima donna actors. Uncooperative smoke machines. Blown lines. Soft focus. Booms in the frame. However, the film’s most soul-crushing moment comes when the camera isn’t even rolling. It arrives when the faux film’s director, played by Steve Buscemi, takes a moment to run lines with his two lead actresses. And of course — with the camera sitting idle and the cinematographer off set vomiting out-of-date milk from the meager craft services table — the scene comes…  Read more

    On Nov 12, 2015
    By on Nov 12, 2015Columns
  • Kurt Russell in Bone Tomahawk “If You Move in a Hasty Manner, I’ll Put a Bullet in You”: S. Craig Zahler on Bone Tomahawk

    With its careful widescreen compositions and painterly period-motivated lighting, Bone Tomahawk possesses a classical visual style that belies its pulpy genre mash-up logline of western-cum-cannibal horror film. There are no elaborate tracking shots in the feature debut of writer/director S. Craig Zahler. No Steadicam moves, no booming Technocranes, no extreme close-ups. “All of that stuff, to me, is like the director is sitting next to the viewer and saying, ‘Hey now, look at this.’ And I wanted as little of that as possible,” said Zahler. “You see a lot of first-time directors really out to impress the hell out of…  Read more

    On Nov 5, 2015
    By on Nov 5, 2015Columns
  • Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak “Guillermo’s Got a Wonderfully Unhealthy Obsession with Insects”: Screenwriter Matthew Robbins on Crimson Peak

    If screenwriter Matthew Robbins had penned the pivotal moments of his movie life, he might not have come up with anything better than the reality. Robbins fell in love with movies in Paris while studying abroad alongside his college roommate, future editing legend Walter Murch. After writing Steven Spielberg’s debut theatrical feature (The Sugarland Express) and directing the fondly remembered 1980s fantasy films Dragonslayer and *batteries not included, Robbins found himself in Guadalajara, Mexico as part of a program to mentor aspiring filmmakers. He was assigned a 29-year-old with a fondness for insects and ghost stories named Guillermo del Toro.…  Read more

    On Oct 26, 2015
    By on Oct 26, 2015Columns
  • Back to the Future “A Very Nostalgic Look at my Childhood”: DP Dean Cundey on Back to the Future

    When I saw Back to the Future as a kid in the summer of 1985, the film’s 1950s setting felt as distant and exotic as another century. As the movie celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, I feel both an aching nostalgia and an existential dread at the thought that the 1980s – with its Pepsi Frees, DeLoreans, and Huey Lewises — are now an equally distant and exotic relic. There were few movies that the 10-year-old me loved as much as Back to the Future. And most of them — from The Thing to Big Trouble in Little China —…  Read more

    On Oct 22, 2015
  • Emily Blunt in Sicario “So Much of What You Do is Intuitive”: Roger Deakins on Sicario

    In an interview with Variety for his new film Sicario, director Denis Villeneuve claimed that the movie’s cinematographer Roger Deakins “could shoot with a shoe and it would look great.” Hyperbole aside, Villeneuve isn’t far off: if you can affix a lens to it, Roger Deakins can coax lyrical yet naturalistic images from it. Armed with an ARRI ALEXA Studio on Sicario – a slight step up from a shoe cam – Deakins pushed the camera to its boundaries to capture both the cruel harshness of the sunlight and the menacing unknown of the shadows for Villeneuve’s politically and morally complex tale of…  Read more

    On Oct 14, 2015
  • Mickey Rourke and Nat Wolff in Ashby “If That Kid Hits Me in the Face, I’m Going to Hit You in the Face”: Tony McNamara on Ashby

    In an early scene in Ashby, an English teacher asks the film’s young protagonist Ed (Nat Wolff) to expound on the themes of Ernest Hemingway. Wolff answers, “Proving you’re a man by trying to get killed,” tossing off the line as if it were an absurd relic of a less enlightened era. He then spends the remainder of the film embracing that antiquated view of American masculinity, whether it be in pursuing classmate Emma Roberts, taking a hit on the football field or befriending his terminally ill, ex-CIA assassin neighbor Ashby (Mickey Rourke). Ashby writer/director Tony McNamara describes the film as…  Read more

    On Oct 5, 2015
    By on Oct 5, 2015Columns
  • Johnny Depp in Black Mass “30 Years Ago I’d Put Together a Scene with Scratches and Splices Jumping”: Editor David Rosenbloom on Black Mass

    David Rosenbloom calls them “movie moments,” those ephemeral slivers of magic discovered amongst the voluminous footage he sifts through in his role as an editor. They can be as small as a glance or as large as a cackle from Whitey Bulger. The latter can be found in Black Mass, Rosenbloom’s second collaboration with director Scott Cooper following 2013’s Out of the Furnace. The film traces the true story of Irish gangster Bulger’s thirty-year reign in Boston, abetted by his role as an FBI informant. Rosenbloom talked to Filmmaker about his start as an editor, his software of choice for…  Read more

    On Sep 29, 2015
    By on Sep 29, 2015Editors
  • The Visit “Found Footage with Style”: Cinematographer Maryse Alberti on M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit

    As a teenager in the south of France, Maryse Alberti’s first two trips to the cinema led her impressionable eyes to Duel and Harold and Maude. If she’d instead began her cinematic journey with The Barefoot Executive and Escape From the Planet of the Apes, maybe she wouldn’t have become the cinematographer of The Wrestler, Happiness, When We Were Kings and Crumb. But the combined spell cast by Steven Spielberg and Hal Ashby – the great populist entertainer and the iconoclastic humanist – set Albert on a path that has led to a four-decade career pivoting between documentary and fiction. Alberti’s latest straddles…  Read more

    On Sep 21, 2015
  • Elisabeth Moss in Queen of Earth “I’ve Gotten Carried Away with Graininess in the Past and I Probably Will Again”: DP Sean Price Williams on Queen of Earth

    The major studios’ current preference for selecting the shepherds of their franchise properties is to pluck directors from the relatively obscurity of indiedom. Colin Trevorrow went from Safety Not Guaranteed to Jurassic World. Josh Trank moved from Chronicle to Fantastic Four. Jon Watts leaped from Cop Car to the reboot of the reboot of Spider-Man. Alex Ross Perry opted for the opposite approach. After his breakthrough film Listen Up Philip, Perry stripped down his budget, cast, and crew for a character piece about a pair of female friends (Elisabeth Moss, Inherent Vice’s Katherine Waterston) whose relationship unravels during a week-long…  Read more

    On Sep 10, 2015
© 2017 Filmmaker Magazine
All Rights Reserved
A Publication of IPF