Shutter Angles

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

  • “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
  • Jennifer Kent on Shooting The Nightingale One-Camera, Contractually Obligated Aspect Ratios and Directing from A Handheld Monitor

    Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s first two movies present different parental nightmares. In The Babadook, a mother’s fear that she doesn’t love her son manifests itself in the form of the titular monster. In her latest, The Nightingale, a young woman explores the extremes she’s willing to go to in order to punish someone who’s harmed her child. Set in the early 1800s, The Nightingale stars Aisling Franciosi as Clare, an Irish prisoner finishing out the final days of her sentence in servitude to brutal British soldier Hawkins (Sam Claflin). When Hawkins rapes her and attacks her family, Clare sets out…  Read more

    On Aug 2, 2019
    By on Aug 2, 2019Columns
  • “There Is No Video Village”: DP Robert Richardson on Shooting Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood in 35mm

    During lunch break on a Western TV series, fading star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) settles into a director’s chair next to his nine-year-old co-star. The young actress is armed with a Walt Disney biography, Dalton a pulpy Western novel. The girl asks Dalton about the story in his book and he recounts the tale of an over-the-hill bronco buster that eerily mirrors his own circumstances. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a loving valentine to an era of studio filmmaking that was coming to an end in 1969, but it’s also a rumination on the inevitability of aging and mortality…  Read more

    On Aug 1, 2019
  • Panavision’s Dan Sasaki on Customizing Lenses for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

    If you’re reading this story in hopes of gleaning the magic recipe behind Panavision’s increasingly popular “detuning” process, sorry to disappoint you. Panavision Senior Vice President of Optical Engineering Dan Sasaki will divulge no such details.  “I wish I could. Unfortunately, that is a process we like to keep secret,” said Sasaki, who began his career at Panavision in 1986 as a lens service technician. “What I can say is that it’s a process that is continually evolving.” Sasaki will, however, happily talk about being a second-generation member of the Panavision family, the storied history of the C Series anamorphics,…  Read more

    On Jul 29, 2019
    By on Jul 29, 2019Columns
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