Shutter Angles

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

  • “Zooms are Totally Underutilized”: Bo Burnham on Eighth Grade

    With Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade now in theaters, we’re reposting this interview with the writer/director conducted during SXSW 2018. The movie: Eighth Grade The Plot: Shy and uncertain (except when doling out life advice on her sparsely followed vlog), eighth grader Kayla (a revelatory Elsie Fisher) struggles through her last days of middle school. The Interviewee: Bo Burnham. Eighth Grade is the feature directorial debut for the multi-hyphenate writer/director/musician/stand-up comedian. Filmmaker: Let’s start by talking about opening shots. The way you open the Jerrod Carmichael stand-up special you directed for HBO — this extremely tight close-up with Carmichael already on-stage…  Read more

    On Jul 17, 2018
    By on Jul 17, 2018Columns
  • “There Is a Reverence On Set When the Camera is Spitting Film Through its Gate.”: DP Darran Tiernan on Westworld, Season Two

    When I interviewed cinematographer Paul Cameron about his work on the Westworld pilot, he likened the show’s mechanical hosts to the workers on set. “By the end of the day, half the hosts have been shot up and need to get washed down, the lead pulled out and get re-programmed to be put back into work the next day,” said Cameron with a laugh. “It’s kind of like a film crew.” For Season Two of HBO’s sci-fi/western hybrid, cinematographer Darran Tiernan was among the crew getting the metaphoric lead pulled out every night. Tiernan lensed five of the ten episodes,…  Read more

    On Jun 14, 2018
  • DP Larkin Seiple Breaks Down Every Shot from Childish Gambino’s “This Is America “

    Since its May 5th launch, Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video has been viewed more than 215 million times on YouTube, a testament to the power of the internet as mass medium. According to Variety, the average ticket price for the first quarter of 2018 is $9.16; using that math, a music video shot in two days with nine rolls of film has been viewed by as many people as Avengers: Infinity War. “I was a bit shocked at the scale and speed of the reaction. It was released on a Saturday evening and on Sunday morning I woke up to…  Read more

    On May 31, 2018
  • “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
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