Shutter Angles

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

  • “How Do You Communicate Backstory, Motivation and Theme Without Dialogue?” A Quiet Place Screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck at SXSW 2018

    The movie: A Quiet Place, which served as the opening night film of the 25th South By Southwest Film Festival The plot: A family struggles to survive in silence on a rural farmstead amid a flock of sonically acute creatures that attack upon hearing the slightest sound. Starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who also directed. The interviewees: Screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, who grew up in Iowa together and have been making films as a team since junior high. I met them while working in the camera department on their most recent directorial effort Haunt, which wrapped production…  Read more

    On Mar 12, 2018
    By on Mar 12, 2018Columns
  • DP Rachel Morrison on Black Panther, Scaling Up for Marvel and 10-Hour Days

    I’ve never interviewed a cinematographer who thought they had enough time or enough money — not once, no matter how big or how small the movie. With Black Panther, Rachel Morrison moved from the indie world to the gilded soundstages of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” a land of $150 million budgets and 100-day shooting schedules. So did the recent Oscar nominee feel like she had everything she needed? “No, not even close,” laughs Morrison, who earned the Marvel gig after her work on Fruitvale Station, Dope and Mudbound. “I had the naive expectation that once you get to that level…  Read more

    On Mar 12, 2018
    By on Mar 12, 2018Columns
  • Editor Tatiana Riegel on I, Tonya, River’s Edge, Pulp Fiction and There Will Be Blood

    Tatiana Riegel’s first step toward becoming an Oscar nominated editor happened on the set of The Love Boat. 20th Century Fox Studios was just a short walk from where Riegel grew up in Los Angeles and around the time she turned 12 she began wandering onto the lot. “There wasn’t much security back then,” laughs Riegel. “I would watch shows like The Love Boat and M*A*S*H being shot, and I would go into the commissary and see everybody all dressed up in their costumes. I think people just assumed I was someone’s kid and kind of ignored me.” Her visits were typically…  Read more

    On Mar 9, 2018
    By on Mar 9, 2018Columns
  • “If You Want That Melodramatic Shaft of Light, You’d Better Mean It”: DP Sam Levy on Shooting Lady Bird

    There’s a tradition of young directors looking for inspiration in the bygone eras of their adolescence. For George Lucas in American Graffiti, it was the California car culture of the early ’60s. For Richard Linklater in Dazed and Confused, it was the Texas high school rituals of the ’70s. And for Greta Gerwig in Lady Bird, it’s Catholic school and the suburban doldrums of early-aughts Sacramento. Written and directed by Gerwig, Lady Bird follows the titular character (Saoirse Ronan) through her senior year of high school as she fights with her mom (Laurie Metcalf), pines for a philosophical dilettante from the…  Read more

    On Jan 17, 2018
  • DP Rachel Morrison on Mudbound, Her Ideal Extinct Film Stock and Using Waveform Monitors

    In Mudbound, a friendship between two returning soldiers – one white (Garrett Hedlund) and one black (Jason Mitchell) – sets a pair of neighboring farming families on a path to tragedy in post-World War II Mississippi. For cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, the upcoming Black Panther), filmic references for the harshness of agrarian life in the Jim Crow South were few and far between considering the Hollywood studio offerings of the era were preoccupied with propagandistic war movies and opulent musicals. Instead, Morrison looked to the Depression-era photography commissioned by the Farm Security Administration – specifically the work of Gordon…  Read more

    On Jan 11, 2018
  • DP Dan Laustsen on The Shape of Water, Judging Exposure without a Meter and Capturing Rich Blacks

    There’s a line in Bob Dylan’s “Brownsville Girl” that goes, “(It’s) strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.” Suffering together connected director Guillermo del Toro and cinematographer Dan Laustsen on the set of 1997’s Mimic. The Miramax-produced giant insect creature feature marked the first American effort for del Toro and just the second studio gig for the Danish Laustsen. The experience was not a pleasant one. As del Toro put it during an on-stage interview at the BFI London Film Festival last October: “Two horrible things happened in the late ’90s: my father…  Read more

    On Jan 4, 2018
  • All the Magician’s Tricks: DP Brandon Trost on The Disaster Artist

    In Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, Jason Schwartzman plays a precocious prep school student whose interests include staging age-inappropriate plays like Serpico. Rushmore’s crew had its own precocious teenager in 16-year-old Brandon Trost, who worked on the film as an assistant to his dad/special effects coordinator, Ron. “I grew up on set with my dad. I’ve never had a job outside of the film industry,” said Trost, who was working on set by the age of 12. “You would think that growing up in movies would ruin the magic for you, because you know everything that goes into putting a movie together. But…  Read more

    On Dec 19, 2017
  • DP Erik Messerschmidt on Shooting Netflix’s Mindhunter with a Custom Red Xenomorph

    When mere mortals gear up for a job, they are restricted to selecting cameras currently in existence. Not David Fincher. Fincher has long hated all the gak required to make a digital cinema camera functional: a wireless transmitter to get signal to video village, the add-ons to provide wireless iris and focus control, the assistant camera’s onboard monitor hanging off the side — all the things that turn a small, lightweight camera body into a labyrinth of cables and breakout boxes. Red Digital Cinema responded by making Fincher his own set of custom Weapon Red Dragons for use on the…  Read more

    On Oct 26, 2017
  • Poisonous Seaweed, Meddling Weinsteins and the Stench of Broccoli: Johannes Roberts on 47 Meters Down

    If you happened to find yourself browsing through Walmart’s aisles in August of 2016, you may have come across a DVD titled In the Deep. Unless you particularly fancy Mandy Moore or Matthew Modine, there’s no reason you would’ve paid the movie’s shark-laden cover any particular attention – not with the glut of sharknados and sharktopuses gliding through the B-movie waters. Yet one year later that very same film – rechristened with its original title 47 Meters Down – debuted in American theaters on its way to a $40-plus million box office run. How did a movie seemingly resigned to the abyss…  Read more

    On Oct 23, 2017
    By on Oct 23, 2017Columns
  • It Comes at Night DP Drew Daniels on New Lenses, Old Dogs and Using Actors as Bounce Cards

    As the end credits rolled after my screening of Trey Edward Shults’s It Comes at Night, a perturbed woman behind me angrily groused, “This is bullshit. WHAT comes at night?” In her defense, the mesmerizing trailer for the film from A24 certainly leads you to believe something is in fact coming at night — a concrete something, not a metaphoric something. But no horrific, plague-mutated creatures ever arrive at the red door that separates the apocalyptic outside world from the isolated home of Paul (Joel Edgerton) and his family (wife Carmen Ejogo and son Kelvin Harrison Jr.). What does come…  Read more

    On Sep 29, 2017
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