Shutter Angles

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

  • Jellyfish Flares, Malick Homages and “Igor, the Possession Lens”: DP Caleb Heymann on the Fear Street trilogy

    “A Film Trilogy Event.” That’s how Netflix heralded the arrival earlier this month of Fear Street, a trio of interconnected horror movies based on R.L. Stine’s popular book series that debuted on the streamer in one-week intervals. That wasn’t exactly the plan when cinematographer Caleb Heymann stepped onto the Georgia set in March of 2019 for the first of 106 days of shooting. As production began, Fear Street was a 20th Century Fox endeavor with a theatrical release planned. However, Heymann says he wouldn’t have altered the films’ style regardless of the distribution method.  “I don’t think [the viewing platform]…  Read more

    On Jul 20, 2021
  • “Faces Take Five Minutes to Light, Backgrounds Take Five Hours”: Cinematographer Matt Wise on his Lighting Philosophy and the Horror Comedy Werewolves Within

    Trapped in an isolated mountain community by a snowstorm, a forest ranger (Sam Richardson) and a postal worker (Milana Vayntrub) must discern which of their neighbors is the culprit behind a lycanthropic killing spree. Though based on the Ubisoft VR whodunit, the film version of Werewolves Within owes an equal debt to the various genre favorites of director Josh Ruben, from horror comedies (The Monster Squad, Arachnophobia) to small town satires (Fargo, Hot Fuzz) to murder mysteries (Clue, Knives Out). The challenge of converging those disparate inspirations into one cohesive whole fell to cinematographer Matt Wise, a veteran of low…  Read more

    On Jul 2, 2021
  • “If You’re Not Scared of an Old Short End, Then You Can Have It”: DP Annika Summerson on Censor

    In the early 1980s, as Britain took a rightward turn that mirrored America’s own shift, the country’s bastions of righteousness took aim at the nascent videocassette market. Before home video releases were placed under the purview of the British Board of Film Classification, the job of protecting Britons from gory practical effects fell to the Director of Public Prosecutions. That office ultimately compiled a list of 72 films it believed were in violation of the country’s Obscene Publications Act. Films on the list became known as “video nasties.” Cinematographer Annika Summerson has seen her fair share of them. That’s largely…  Read more

    On Jun 10, 2021
  • “We Were Among the First Shows to Restart”: DP Ben Richardson on Mare of Easttown

    When I spoke to cinematographer Ben Richardson shortly before the season finale of Mare of Easttown, the first thing I said was, “Don’t tell me anything that happens.” Anything is the operative word here. I didn’t want to know the outcome of the show’s central mystery—who killed young mother Erin McMenamin—before I had a chance to watch the climactic episode. But, equally, I didn’t want to know the conclusion of the domestic dramas surrounding detective Kate Winslet and the denizens of her blue-collar suburban Pennsylvania town—a region with an accent so distinctive Saturday Night Live built an entire sketch around…  Read more

    On Jun 8, 2021
  • “On Every Movie I Do, I Try to Test Every Single Camera I Can Get My Hands On”: DP Pawel Pogorzelski on Nobody

    In the middle-aged revenge fantasy movie, the protagonist’s onslaught of violence is a reluctant one. In your John Wicks or Takens, these are men forced back into action by a transgression so grievous it demands brutal retribution. They don’t want to, but they have to. As director Ilya Naishuller points out, Nobody is an inversion of that formula. When Bob Odenkirk’s retired assassin Hutch is jarred from suburban drudgery by a home break in, he loses only a few bucks, a kitty cat bracelet and some pride. Hardly a kidnapped daughter or a murdered puppy. Hutch doesn’t have to dust off…  Read more

    On May 20, 2021
  • “Shooting at Magic Hour Can be Very Nerve-racking”: DP Dariusz Wolski on News of the World

    Repeat business: It’s a hallmark in the long career of Dariusz Wolski. If the Polish-born cinematographer shoots one movie for you, there’s a decent chance he’ll be back for another. He’s lensed two movies for Tim Burton, Tony Scott and Alex Proyas; four alongside Gore Verbinski; and six for Ridley Scott. Yet it’s a new collaboration with director Paul Greengrass—and a new genre, the Western—that earned Wolski his first Academy Award nomination after more than 30 years shooting features. Wolski picked up the Oscar nod yesterday for News of the World, a post-Civil War tale of a traveling entertainer (Tom…  Read more

    On Mar 16, 2021
  • “The Ceilings were Only 8 1/2 Feet High”: DP Tami Reiker on Shooting One Night in Miami with Jibs and Finishing Production after COVID

    In February of 1964, Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Hall to become the heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 22. He spent the night celebrating with Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke. Within two weeks of the fight, Clay announced his membership in the Nation of Islam and changed his name. Within a year, both Cooke and Malcolm X were shot dead. By the summer of 1966, Brown had retired from football at the age of 30. Based on the 2013 play by Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami offers a fictitious…  Read more

    On Jan 28, 2021
  • “IMAX Cameras are Sewing Machines—They are So Loud”: DP Matthew Jensen on Wonder Woman 1984

    “You still can’t beat reality,” says Matthew Jensen. That may seem like an incongruous proclamation from the cinematographer of a $200 million superhero spectacle that concludes with a flying goddess facing off against a half human/half cheetah. But instead of simply shooting the film’s opening Amazon Olympics flashback in a greenscreen wonderland, Jensen headed to Spain’s Canary Islands and put 10-year-old actress Lilly Aspell (as a young Diana Prince) on horseback on an IMAX-rigged process trailer. Instead of digitally returning a gutted Virginia mall to all its 1980s glory, the Wonder Woman team rebuilt more than 60 period stores. And for…  Read more

    On Jan 22, 2021
  • “We Don’t Find Shots, We Build Them”: DP Erik Messerschmidt on Mank, Lens Flare Painting and Native Black and White

    In 1941, a 25-year-old Orson Welles made one of cinema’s most auspicious debuts by directing, co-writing, starring in and producing Citizen Kane. With Mank—David Fincher’s look at the evolution of Kane’s screenplay—cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt makes an impressive feature bow of his own.  After working his way up through the ranks of grip and electric and earning DP credits on the shows Legion, Mindhunter and Fargo, Messerschmidt’s very first fiction feature has landed him in the midst of Oscar conversation. With Mank now streaming on Netflix, Messerschmidt spoke with Filmmaker about deep focus, high ISOs and painting in lens flares; and how even…  Read more

    On Dec 22, 2020
  • “The Brightest Light of a Shot Doesn’t Always Have to Be on the Actor’s Face”: DP Matthew Libatique on The Prom

    Matthew Libatique likes to say that sometimes lighting needs to be the lead guitarist and sometimes it needs to be the drummer. The Prom is definitely a lead guitarist kind of movie. An adaptation of the popular musical, The Prom follows four Broadway personalities (Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman and Andrew Rannells) hoping to boost their careers by descending on small town Indiana as “celebrity activists” in service of the cause of a gay student banned from attending the titular bash with her partner of choice. With the movie now streaming on Netflix, Libatique talked with Filmmaker about working with…  Read more

    On Dec 16, 2020
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