Shutter Angles

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

  • “You Have Nine Days to Make an Episode. Go!”: DP James Kniest on The Haunting of Bly Manor

    With a list of credits that includes Annabelle, Hush and The Bye Bye Man, cinematographer James Kniest has spent a fair share of his career toiling in horror. “I somehow got into doing all these dark genre films and episodics, which I like a lot,” said Kniest, “but I often times say jokingly, ‘Can’t I just do a romantic comedy?’” The Haunting of Bly Manor fulfills half of that request. The second installment in Netflix’s Haunting Of anthology series, Bly Manor is a gothic romance that leans heavily into the latter. When the horror does arrive, it’s less jump scares and more…  Read more

    On Oct 15, 2020
  • “If You’re in the Right Location at the Right Time, You Shouldn’t Need Much Light”: DP Greig Fraser on The Mandalorian

    Laboring in a greenscreen expanse for months on end never seemed like a particularly pleasant way of working. Not for the crew, confined to a windowless stage with walls roughly the same hue as green Tropical Skittles. Not for the actors, performing in a world they can’t see. And not for the cinematographer, surrendering control of the background that will ultimately replace the verdant swath of green. StageCraft, a new technology that employs a vast array of LED video screens, provides an appealing alternative for capturing virtual environments. Created in partnership with Epic Games and Industrial Light & Magic, StageCraft offers…  Read more

    On Sep 17, 2020
  • Shadowplay: The Artistic Benefits and Technical Challenges of Ozark‘s HDR Workflow

    Ozark is a “dark” show in every meaning of the word. The story of a criminal Missouri clan laundering Mexican cartel money through their riverboat casino is literally, metaphorically and photographically bleak. “Ozark is about what happens in the shadows of our society, in the underbelly, and the fear and anxiety that permeates that environment,” said cinematographer Armando Salas, ASC. “Everyone can relate to that feeling on some level—the feeling in the pit of your stomach that comes with knowing you’re doing something wrong. We try to embed that feeling in the look of the show.” Sunlight rarely reaches the…  Read more

    On Jul 7, 2020
  • “We Only Zoom In on This Show! We Don’t Zoom Out!” DP Jody Lee Lipes on I Know This Much is True and Shooting 600 Hours of 35mm

    Jody Lee Lipes’ first answer was drowned out by a cacophonous eruption outside his window. We’d scheduled our interview about HBO’s new show I Know This Much Is True for 7 pm—the time when New Yorkers take to their windows and balconies each night to shower frontline workers with cheers of appreciation. Wally Lamb’s source novel was released in 1998 and the show’s 10-month shooting schedule began in early 2019. Yet it’s not hard to draw parallels between the show’s weary humanism and our new pandemic reality, with lines like “We’re connected, whether I like you or not” and “You…  Read more

    On May 8, 2020
  • “All of our Frames Match Exactly on Every Pass”: DP Stefan Duscio on The Invisible Man, the Alexa Mini LF and Compositing Uninterrupted Shots

    The newest incarnation of The Invisible Man is not a scientist driven mad by his own discovery but a tech billionaire, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), whose newest creation—an “invisibility suit”—allows him to silently terrorize his ex, Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss). When Adrian’s lair is revealed along with the suit’s resting place, production folks are in for a knowing chuckle—holding the suit up are a set of Mafers and Israeli arms. For the uninitiated, the former is a clamp frequently used by the grip department and the latter is an adjustable arm for attaching onboard monitors to cameras. It’s a sly bit of low-budget inventiveness…  Read more

    On Mar 20, 2020
  • “This Little Live Show I was Doing on the Board”: DP Larry Sher on Joker

    The Gotham City of Joker is a mere fraction of a degree removed from the New York City of 1981, a time and place Larry Sher knows well. The Hangover and Godzilla: King of the Monsters cinematographer grew up in nearby Teaneck, New Jersey and would sneak into the city on the bus as a teenager in the early 1980s. Sher channeled those experiences—as well as the seminal New York films of the era—to evoke the alienating urban nightmare of Gotham.  “My approach for Joker was to feed a little bit off of what the city looked like in my…  Read more

    On Nov 7, 2019
  • “A Scare is an Algorithm”: DP Checco Varese on It Chapter Two

    Read a few Checco Varese interviews and you’ll quickly discover that the Peruvian cinematographer likes to talk about his job through similes and metaphors. He’ll compare cinematographers to chefs who shop at the same store and cook with the same ingredients, yet create distinct dishes. He’ll say that partnering with a director is like partnering in a marriage (sometimes for Varese that’s literally true–his wife Patricia Riggen is a director and frequent collaborator). He’ll tell you that a good scare is like an algorithm or that crafting a suspense sequence is akin to nurturing a plant. For It Chapter Two,…  Read more

    On Oct 24, 2019
  • “If a Director Feels the Need to Move the Camera Simply to ‘Make It Interesting,’ It’s Likely an Indicator the Scene Itself Isn’t That Interesting”: DP Erik Messerschmidt on Mindhunter, Season Two

    When David Fincher transitioned from music videos to feature films in the 1990s, the descriptors “glossy,” “slick” and “stylized” were frequently affixed to his work. Those adjectives were often aimed as pejoratives, categorizing Fincher as a technical virtuoso who created shiny but hollow thrillers. Watching the second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter—executive produced and partially directed by Fincher—the evolution of the filmmaker’s aesthetic is striking. As FBI profilers Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) interview America’s most notorious serial killers, the camera rarely moves. Instead, it unobtrusively observes.  What hasn’t changed over the years is Fincher’s unwavering exactitude,…  Read more

    On Sep 17, 2019
  • “We Decided Early On That There was Never Going to Be A Single Lock-off Shot”: DP Erik Wilson on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

    The original Dark Crystal was released on December 17th, 1982 , four days before my fifth birthday. I don’t remember exactly when my mom took me to see it. I can only tell you that when she did, the movie–and its lizard-like villains, the Skeksis—scared the crap out of me. There is a generation of kids who were similarly terrified and enthralled by the film, which was much darker than unsuspecting parents anticipated from Jim Henson, the man behind The Muppets and Sesame Street.  Erik Wilson—the cinematographer of Netflix’s new 10-episode prequel The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance—was not among…  Read more

    On Aug 30, 2019
  • “Imagine Making a Movie Without Tape”: DP Brett Jutkiewicz on Ready or Not

    In Ready or Not, a bride spends her wedding night playing a deadly game of hide and seek with her new in-laws, a clan of board game magnates beholden to a curse that requires them to dispose of the newlywed before dawn. The film unfolds almost entirely at the wealthy family’s estate, an opulent expanse shot mainly at the historic Parkwood Estate near Toronto. Ready or Not’s $6 million budget and 26-day shooting schedule are modest for a wide theatrical release, but for cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz the scale is downright gluttonous compared to past efforts like Benny and Josh Safdie’s…  Read more

    On Aug 29, 2019
© 2020 Filmmaker Magazine
All Rights Reserved
A Publication of IPF