Shutter Angles

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

  • “A Very Old Fashioned Kind of Filmmaking”: DP Charlotte Bruus Christensen on Shooting A Quiet Place on 35mm

    A few months after my son was born, I took my wife to see the Tommy Lee Jones western The Homesman. If you know that movie, then you know why it was a bad idea: minutes into the film, a woman driven mad by the harshness of pioneer life kills her infant child. My wife nearly walked out. I didn’t understand that impulse at the time, but as my kid has gotten older I’ve become equally squeamish toward onscreen violence directed at children. It’s not an uncommon sentiment for parents, which is why it’s a perilous choice to open the new horror…  Read more

    On Apr 20, 2018
  • Cotton Balls, Cling Film and Unashamed Composites: DP Tristan Oliver on Isle of Dogs

    In Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson’s Japan-set return to the world of stop motion animation, there is a character with a face full of freckles. This seemingly incidental attribute required the film’s lead puppet painter Angela Kiely to place 297 freckles on each of the puppet’s many interchangeable faces. All told, she painted over 22,000 freckles for the film. That is the painstaking diligence required for the art of stop motion animation, a form demanding an obsessive attention to minutia perfectly suited to Anderson’s fastidiousness. In a Wes Anderson film, no detail – not even a single freckle – is…  Read more

    On Apr 11, 2018
  • “The Shoot was Undoubtedly ‘A Poor Man’s Revenant‘”: DP Eric Treml on The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter at SXSW 2018

    The Movie: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter The Plot: Accompanied by his trusty cameraman (Danny McBride), the recently divorced host of a lo-fi hunting show (James Brolin) takes his son into the wilds of North Carolina to bag his first deer on camera. The Interviewee: Cinematographer Eric Treml. He previously collaborated with Whitetail director Jody Hill (Observe and Report, Eastbound & Down) on HBO’s Vice Principals. Filmmaker: Tell me a little bit about your background in production. You have early credits on some big movies as part of the underwater camera team. Treml: When I first moved to…  Read more

    On Mar 20, 2018
  • Mélanie Laurent on Galveston, Affordable Song Rights and Directors (Not) Working with Actors at SXSW 2018

    The movie: Galveston The Plot: On the run from a New Orleans mobster (Beau Bridges), a dying hit man (Ben Foster) and a sex worker (Elle Fanning) hit the road for the titular location. Based on the novel by True Detective author Nic Pizzolatto. The Interviewee: Writer/director Mélanie Laurent. This is the French filmmaker’s first English-language feature as director. As an actress, she has appeared in Inglorious Bastards, Beginners and By the Sea. Filmmaker: There’s an interesting quote from you in the press notes that says something like “This is a story that maybe wasn’t meant for me, but I…  Read more

    On Mar 14, 2018
    By on Mar 14, 2018Columns
  • “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
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