Shutter Angles

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

  • 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
  • DP Andrew Droz Palermo on A Ghost Story, Shooting 1.33 and That Pie Shot

    The polarity between director David Lowery’s $65 million Disney film Pete’s Dragon and the micro-budgeted A Ghost Story has been noted repeatedly in reviews and profiles. But the man behind the camera on A Ghost Story has a unique career trajectory of his own. Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo made his feature debut with Adam Wingard’s tone-mashing home invasion horror flick You’re Next in 2011. He followed that by co-directing a documentary (Rich Hill, an affecting character study of Missouri teens living in poverty) and a narrative feature (One and Two). Palermo is back in director of photography mode on A…  Read more

    On Aug 10, 2017
  • “Every So Often a Train Would Come Rumbling By and the Set Would Shake”: DP Doug Emmett on Shooting HBO’s Room 104

    An octogenarian couple returns to the hotel room where they spent their first night together — it’s a logline that would typically preface an elegiac rumination on love and mortality. But by the time that set-up arrives in the season finale of HBO’s new anthology series Rooms 104, it seems just as likely to give way to horror or violence…or interpretive dance. That’s the joy of the newest Duplass Brothers creation — each episode begins as a blank slate capable of unexpectedly evolving into any genre or tone. The 12-episode series — which debuted last Friday night — unfolds entirely…  Read more

    On Aug 1, 2017
  • “Was Everything in Focus?”: Wonder Woman DP Matthew Jensen on Shooting 35 and Digital and How Tequila Sunrise Inspired His Career

    I have to admit I can no longer distinguish 35mm film from high end digital cameras when I go to the movies. I can spot 16mm or anamorphic lenses, but the line between digital and 35mm celluloid has become impossibly blurred. Wonder Woman cinematographer Matthew Jensen can still spot the subtleties, but for Jensen the aesthetics of film are only one of the reasons he enjoys working in that format. “It’s very hard to tell the difference, especially when you’ve gone through a DI (digital intermediate) process and you’re projecting digitally. We have some shots that are digital in Wonder…  Read more

    On Jul 18, 2017
  • DP Henry Braham on Shooting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with the First Weapon 8K Vista Vision Full Frame Camera

    Compared to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its squeaky clean Captain America and solemn United Nations accords,  the Guardians of the Galaxy — a rogues’ gallery of smugglers, thieves and assassins — are outliers. Yes, by the end of Guardians Vol. 2 the titular team are two-time galaxy savers. But for Rocket, the genetically enhanced trash panda voiced by Bradley Cooper, that just means they can jack up their rates. Guardians’ departure from the status quo of Marvel’s ever-bloating Avengers coalition – which they will no doubt eventually be subsumed by – extends to behind the camera as…  Read more

    On Jun 8, 2017
  • DP Toby Oliver on Get Out, Cheating the Sunken Place and Color Grading Trailers

    Sometimes you have to go where the market pushes you. And after nearly twenty years behind the camera, the market suddenly wants Toby Oliver to shoot horror films. The Australian cinematographer lensed three fright flicks last year alone, all for the low-budget genre juggernaut Blumhouse. He’s practically become Blumhouse’s version of Hammer’s in-house DP Jack Asher. The most recent of Oliver’s horror efforts to hit screens is Get Out, a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?/Stepford Wives hybrid in which black New York photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) travels upstate to meet his white girlfriend’s family (Allison Williams and parents Catherine Keener and…  Read more

    On Apr 7, 2017
  • “The Bike is Going to Hit the Camera!” Chad Stahelski on John Wick: Chapter 2, Stair Falls and Other Stunts

    “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” moans John McClane in Die Hard 2. It’s the question at the heart of every high concept action movie sequel. Failing to adequately answer it is how McClane’s New York everyman cop ends up in Moscow, or why half of Bryan Mills’ family gets kidnapped in the Taken series. Following up John Wick poses a similar conundrum – how do you motivate a retired hitman whose bloody swath of revenge is initiated by the death of his wife and the murder of a cuddly puppy? Do you have his…  Read more

    On Feb 10, 2017
    By on Feb 10, 2017Columns
  • “Drops of Jupiter,” Cancer and Blockbuster Video: Chris Kelly on Other People

    In the opening shot of Other People, a family gathers around the body of its matriarch seconds after she’s passed from cancer. This moment of grief – accompanied by no score, just sobbing — is punctured when the phone rings and a well wisher leaves a message that is interrupted when the caller pauses to place an order at Del Taco. It’s an appropriate introduction to the film – which is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, but always raw, truthful, and uncannily specific. That specificity comes from writer/director Chris Kelly’s own experiences during his mother’s final months, during which Kelly —…  Read more

    On Feb 9, 2017
    By on Feb 9, 2017Columns
  • Pink Skies and Poetic Artifacts: DP Linus Sandgren on La La Land

    Early in La La Land, Emma Stone’s aspiring actress rises from a restaurant conversation about the unpleasantness of contemporary moviegoing and sprints to the Rialto Theatre to take in Rebel Without a Cause with Ryan Gosling’s intractably traditionalist jazz pianist. The burst of exuberance doesn’t last. The Rialto later closes down and as Gosling waxes poetic about jazz’s declining cultural relevance you begin to feel that for La La Land jazz is just a surrogate for the state of film itself. La La Land is an ode to the magic of movies – at a time when going to the movies has…  Read more

    On Jan 18, 2017
  • Choosing the Alexa 65 over Film and Finding the Right Format: DP Greig Fraser on Lion and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    It’s fair to say that 2015 was a pretty good year for Greig Fraser. The cinematographer globetrotted to London, Jordan, Iceland, the Maldives, India, and his native Australia while lensing two movies. One of them (Lion) has Fraser in the Oscar conversation and the other (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is a blockbuster prequel to his favorite childhood films. The two movies seemingly couldn’t be any more different. Rogue One is a space adventure with a $200 million budget and a small country’s GDP worth of merchandising revenue in which the final half is basically one intense battle sequence.…  Read more

    On Jan 5, 2017
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