Shutter Angles

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

  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • Thinking of Tarkovsky While Making New Zealand Look Russian: DP Tim Orr on Z For Zachariah

    The settings for Craig Zobel’s 2012 behavioral experiment Compliance and the director’s new post-apocalyptic tale Z for Zachariah couldn’t be more different. The former takes place almost entirely in the claustrophobic confines of a fast food restaurant’s employees-only areas. The latter unfolds amidst lush, bucolic tranquility. Yet at the heart of both films is a study of group dynamics. Set in an idyllic valley mysteriously immune to an extinction-level catastrophe, Z for Zachariah begins as a two-hander featuring Margot Robbie as a Christian farm girl who believes she’s the last person on earth until the arrival of an atheist scientist…  Read more

    On Sep 4, 2015
  • Hitchcock + Haneke: DP Edu Grau on The Gift

    Amongst a summer movie season awash in sequels, remakes and presold tentpole properties, it’s rare to find a sleeper at the multiplex, an unknown quantity with the ability to surprise an audience. Such is The Gift, an unnerving psychological thriller that begins as a post-Fatal Attraction variant before veering into the domain of Roman Polanski and Michael Haneke. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall star as a married couple leaving behind personal tragedy in Chicago to start a new life in Los Angeles. Shortly after their arrival, Bateman bumps into former high school classmate Joel Edgerton, who begins to insinuate himself into…  Read more

    On Aug 27, 2015
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