29 Jan 19
IndieWire reached out to the cinematographers and directors behind the scripted narrative features premiering this week at Sundance to find out which cameras, lenses, and formats they used, and why they chose them to create the looks and meet the production demands of their films. Here are their responses.
[pmc-related-link href=”https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/sundance-2019-camera-lens-report-arri-alexa-mini-sony-fs7-canon-1202036285/” type=”Read More:” target=”_blank”]Sundance 2019 Camera Report: Arri Alexa Mini Dominates Narrative[/pmc-related-link]
Films in U.S. Dramatic Competition are below, Premieres are on Page 2, NEXT Page 3, Midnight Page 4. Films appear in alphabetical order by title.
Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition
“Before You Know It”
“Before You Know It” DoP Jon Keng
Dir: Hannah Pearl Utt, DoP: Jon Keng
Format: 3.2K Prores 4444
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke S4i
Keng: The cast was made up of primarily women across all age groups, so I wanted a lens set that would render their faces well without being overly clinical and sharp. The S4s have a very pleasant way of compressing people’s faces, even at wider focal lengths. I chose the Alexa Mini because of its size and inbuilt ND filters. I like keeping my camera as compact as possible so that it does not seem imposing to the actors, and it also allows me to move quicker.
“Big Time Adolescence”
“Big Time Adolescence” DoP Andrew Huebscher
Dir: Jason Orley, DoP: Andrew Huebscher
Format: 2K ProRes 4444
Camera: ARRI AMIRA, ALEXA Mini
Lens: Panavision Ultra Speeds and Super Speeds
Huebscher: “Big Time Adolescence” is an honest and frank look at an unlikely friendship between a high school student (Griffin Gluck) and his older sister’s ex-boyfriend (Pete Davidson). Jason and I wanted a distressed, filmic quality that felt authentic and analog. We didn’t want it to look bright and cheery, as these are relatable characters and the humor dark. Working closely with the design departments, we built drab palettes reflecting the environment these guys are trapped in. I love the pastel tones of Fuji film, and developed a LUT based on one of their print stocks, emphasizing smoky blacks and lower contrast. From there, many of our aesthetic choices fell into place. Optically, I was interested in taking the edge off the ALEXA without sacrificing detail, and after extensive testing settled on vintage Panavision lenses. We opted to shoot in 2K resolution, as 4K seemed slick and reduced too much of the grain. I integrated a lot of natural light, augmenting minimally with HMIs and LEDs, and some scenes were lit entirely with practicals. Coverage was simplistic and sometimes action played out in wider masters. In the end, we achieved a muted, understated look that I feel reflects the growing pains of teenage life.
“Brittany Runs a Marathon”
Dir: Paul Downs Colaizzo, DoP: Seamus Tierny
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision Primo spherical primes, Panavision 19-90 zoom lens, Fujinon 85-300mm zoom lens
Colaizzo: Our main character starts with a juvenile worldview — we wanted her world to feel bright and colorful, so we needed a lens that really helped us capture the high-contrast nature of that world. As the movie progresses, our main character looks to ground herself in a graceful reality. We chose this collection of lenses so our visual arc could mimic our main character’s internal journey.
“Clemency” DoP Eric Branco and director Chinonye Chukwu
Dir: Chinonye Chukwu, DoP: Eric Branco
Format: 2K ProRes 4444 Anamorphic
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini & Alexa SXT
Lens: Cooke Anamorphics
Branco: We were after a very naturalistic look for this film. The subject material is so complex and layered, and early on Chinonye Chukwu and I settled on a restrained look that wasn’t going to distract. I lobbied to shoot anamorphic from the start. I had just shot a pilot in a working prison in my hometown of New York City, and I felt I was always fighting to get further away from the actors in the incredibly tight spaces. I really wanted to have more room on this film, both literally and creatively. We looked at test after test and ultimately settled on Cooke Anamophics. I was familiar with them from another project (“Night Shift,” Sundance 2017), which also took place in a cramped location, and I loved the way they interpreted not only the hard vertical lines found all over the prison, but also the softer locations on the outside.
The cinematography in “Clemency” is all about creating an environment where the actors can breathe and do their best work. To this end, I really tried to keep lights off the set whenever possible. This usually meant more work for gaffer Ted Rysz and key grip Anthony Schrader. This was one of those magical shoots where everyone really was giving their all to the project, and it really, really shows.
Dir: Lulu Wang, DoP: Anna Franquesa Solano
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes
Solano: Our visual language for the film was meant to reflect the theme, which is family unity. Even though Billi is the protagonist, Lulu and I always knew we wanted to focus more on the theme and follow the family as an entity, leading us to a more omniscient approach to the storytelling. This called for a wide aspect ratio that could include in the frame as many family members as possible. All characters are hiding an important piece of information from the head of the family. That is why we wanted to create a mise-en-scène that felt staged, to emphasize the idea that these characters are just performing some version of themselves. As a result, we used composed group shots in which all the family dynamics play out in a sort of organized chaos.
We considered the option of shooting on anamorphic to be able to frame a large number of characters. But after doing some tests in Beijing, we ended up going with spherical because we wanted to have the freedom to fill the frame and not have distracting distortions or a limited depth of field that would restrict the blocking. Another key factor was the physical limitation of apartments in China, which are often very small. In the end, our decision to use master primes and Alexa Mini was as much about fulfilling our visual language as it was making it work practically on set.
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Dir: Minhal Baig, DoP: Carolina Costa
Format: ProRes 4444XQ 3.2K
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke S4 primes
Costa: From the start, it was clear that the Alexa Mini was the right camera for the job. I love the dynamic range and how natural skin tones are in this format. Plus, we were going to be in real locations, so the size was also important. Thinking of the Alexa as my constant “film stock” (I’ve shot all my features on it), I like to always test different types of glass with my directors. Minhal and I were at the beginning of prep and went to Panavision in Chicago to look at different sets of lenses. It was important for us that the audience felt engaged and connected with this family. The warmth and the nice fall off of the Cooke S4s felt like the right tool to portray these characters with empathy. The Cookes portray skin tones in a naturalistic way and in photographing a brown-skinned family this was very important to me. We shot mostly with 18mm and 25mm focal lengths, with close ups at 32mm. The wider end was a way to always be close to Hala and keep her perspective of the world – that was getting wider and wider as the movie progresses. We also wanted to show the environment around her, which was so important for Minhal – Chicago was treated as another character. Every technical choice we made was specific for this story and these characters and for them to be relatable to the audience. Hala is a Muslim girl that is going through the same ups and downs as any other teenager.
Director Alma Harel and cinematographer Natasha Braier shot “Honey Boy” on the Arri Alexa Mini, that overwhelming first choice of Sundance filmmakers
Dir: Alma Har’el, DoP: Natasha Braier
Format: ARRIRAW Full Gate
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Anamorphic lenses Xtal express by Joe Dunton
Har’el: I wanted to find a way to capture the cinematic world Otis is always in dialogue with while keeping the hand held feel and intimacy of my documentary work.
“Imaginary Order” DoP Franck Tymezuk and director Debra Eisenstadt
Dir: Debra Eisenstadt, DoP: Franck Tymezuk
Format: 2.8K arri
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke S4
Tymezuk: I choose the Arri Mini because it’s a very versatile camera. We had a lot of handheld, and it’s the perfect camera to achieve an independent feature. The Arri cameras are the most reliable camera on the market. It’s really rare to get in trouble with the electronics. When you shoot a feature during 16 days, one of the fears is to have a camera issue. You can’t wait for a replacement camera. All the shots missing are gone forever.
The Cooke S4 brought the best contrast, sharpness, and softness to tell Debra’s story. Besides, they are very light and it was easy to use handheld. I’m really happy with all the close ups we’ve made on the actors using the S4 long lenses. They are just beautiful lenses. We had a Zoom 25-250 Angenieux, too. It was very helpful for the car shots, and outdoors to adjust the frame with a zoom. The 25-250mm matched perfectly with the Cooke S4.
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
“The Last Black Man In San Francisco” DoP Adam Newport-Berra
Dir: Joe Talbot, DoP: Adam Newport-Berra
Format: 3.2k ProRes
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes, Angénieux Optimo 24-290
Talbot: I was incredibly excited to shoot a film in San Francisco. It’s a city with rich history and culture, amazing light, and evocative architecture. It’s a city whose lifeblood is supplied by the middle class, but glorified and enjoyed by the wealthy newcomers that gentrify its neighborhoods. It was important for me to find the nuance in that juxtaposition, honoring San Francisco’s past while tracking its complicated evolution into the modern, often harsh city it is today. We needed to build a world that was honest yet elevated. Our two lead characters, Jimmie and Montgomery, are best friends and outsiders — proud frontiersman living on the fringes of society. I wanted to shoot San Francisco as they saw and lived it.
It was important to capture the city, but also build a world that was wholly unique to our characters’ perspectives. It’s elevated yet human — a romanticized Wild West that is larger than life. Jimmie teeters on the poverty line, but carries himself with an old-world pride, one that that pervades the aesthetic of the film. To acknowledge and heighten this, I sought to uphold his stature with wider lenses at low angles, which also brought the audience closer to Jimmie physically. Lighting him frontally popped him out of his surroundings, and gave a subtle nod to a more romantic era of filmmaking. We wanted to give the audience a chance to drink in the environment and see the city for all its beautiful potential in order to understand Jimmie’s complicated relationship with San Francisco. We obsessed over our wide shots, embraced long traveling shots, and indulged in a handful of impressionistic montages.
Because much of our talent were non-actors (including Jimmie), the approach always felt like it needed to be simple, honest, and photographic. We shot a 1.66 aspect ratio, which embraced the verticality of the city. Using the Arri Alexa with Zeiss Master Primes combined with some subtle diffusion and an excellent LUT from my longtime collaborator Damien Van Der Cruyssen at The Mill, I think we managed to create a look that harkens the past while still feeling oddly modern.
[pmc-related-link href=”https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/the-last-black-man-in-san-francisco-review-sundance-2019-1202038555/” type=”Read More:” target=”_blank”]‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ Review: Joe Talbot’s Bittersweet, Unforgettable Debut[/pmc-related-link]
Behind the scenes of shooting “Luce”
Dir: Julius Onah, DoP: Larkin Seiple
Camera: Panaflex Millennium XL
Lens: Panavision Primo, E-, G-Series Lenses
Onah: From the very beginning, shooting on 35mm was the only real option we considered. I’ve shot all my features on film, and it’s simply the look that feels the most truthful and exciting to me. With “Luce,” the goal was to create an aesthetic that had a bit of a heightened, edgy reality. Larkin came up with a great description for it: “Punchy naturalism.” It meant something that still felt grounded, yet was cinematic — in this case, with saturated, contrast rich images. We both really wanted to embrace the look of film and feel the grain, so Larkin and our fantastic colorist Alex Bickel beat up the images a bit. It created a density and edge to the images that provided a psychological weight to the world of the characters.
It was also important that the visual language felt like it reflected the headspace of our main character, Luce. He’s a teenager who is very focused, intense, and cerebral. So this meant a very controlled camera, favoring balanced frames and also trying to cover things in one shot as much as possible. One of the thematic ideas the story centers on is the limits of our perception and how the ways we view each other shape power and privilege in our society. So these one-shots and long takes were also about telling the story in a way that allows the audience to decide what they believe about what’s happening in front of them. Shooting in anamorphic also meant the kind of widescreen that allows our eyes to wander around the frame, which was helpful in some of the long one-shots. A lot of this was quite challenging in our schedule, but Larkin did an incredible job of finding ways to develop both the lighting and some really dynamic oners. It was also his first feature shot on film, and he crushed it.
“Ms. Purple” Cinematographer Ante Cheng
Dir: Justin Chon, DoP: Ante Cheng
Format: Prores 2.8/3.2k
Camera: Arri Alexa mini
Lens: Todd-ao 55mm anamorphic, Canon 300mm
Cheng: Justin Chon and I wanted to design an expressive visual language for “Ms. Purple,” in an efficient package suitable for our indie production. During prep, we came across the Todd-AO 55mm anamorphic lens. The way it renders faces is just beautiful. The image characteristics varies through different stops, and we would set it to the mood of the scene. We carried the Leica Macrolux diopters for a quick way to get past the minimum focus. 95 percent of the film was shot on the Todd-AO 55mm, and the res on a Canon 300mm. The spherical telephoto shifted the perspective, and allowed us to shoot across the street through crowds. We chose the versatile Alexa Mini for the extended handheld takes, with a custom Fuji film stock LUT. In the end, we’re happy with the simple yet specific approach.
“Native Son” DoP Matthew Libatique and Rashid Johnson
Dir: Rashid Johnson, DoP: Matthew Libatique
Format: Arriraw 3.4K
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Todd AO anamorphic lenses, Cooke Vintage Anamorphic Lenses
Libatique: The choice of camera was largely a practical one. The form factor allowed us to use a Movi Pro 15, which served as a versatile camera platform that provided us an affordable remote head as well as Steadicam-like movement with the help of an Anti Gravity rig. This versatility, coupled with its ease of use, allowed us to move at a pace necessary to succeed despite our short schedule. Lensing was chosen by our desire to tell the story through a series of compositions. Rashid and I were inspired by a common love of the photos of Roy DeCarava. His work evoked emotion through a balance of subject and space in every frame. The anamorphic frame gave us the negative space as well as the focus fall off that added depth through the soft focus of the background colors chosen by Rashid and Akin, our production designer.
“Share” Director Pippa Bianco and DoP Ava Berkofsky
Dir: Pippa Bianco, DoP: Ava Berkofsky
Format: Arri ProRes
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Hawk V-lite, Angenieux anamorphic zooms
Berkofsky: We paired the Alexa Mini with Hawk and Angenieux anamorphic lenses with the idea that this would help us create a world that was textured and psychological. Instead of using the traditional 2.39 anamorphic image, we used the 2.0 aspect ratio which, paired with the anamorphic lenses, helped us to create a sense of claustrophobia and pressure. We also used a vintage Angenieux anamorphic zoom that was beautiful, but optically pretty imperfect. We used the zoom at very specific times in the story, so its imperfections were part of the visual language and added a layer of texture.
The choice to use the Alexa Mini with these specific lenses gave us a level of flexibility. The camera has a very organic way of dealing with low light and darkness, which came in handy because most of the film takes at night, and we wanted to embrace and play with the dark, not fight it.
“The Sound of Silence”
“The Sound of Silence” Eric Lin
Dir: Michael Tyburski, DoP: Eric Lin
Format: 3.2K Prores 4444
Camera: Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss Super Speeds Mark III, Optimo 24-290
Lin: A central element of the film is the Peter Lucian’s obsession with how sound is an invisible force that significantly influences our behavior. To draw out how that obsession has isolated him emotionally while also enhancing the act of listening, I knew we would want the ability to achieve a very shallow depth of field while shooting. We tested several sets of modern and vintage lenses that all opened up to at least a T1.4. Ultimately, we landed on the Zeiss Super Speeds because they had a cooler, less saturated color rendition and a softer contrast when shooting wide open. Like Peter, who relies on tape recorders in his meticulous work, the Super Speeds brought an analog feel to the image while also being precise. Mirroring the meticulousness and rigidity of Peter’s existence, we limited camera movement while also limiting the color palette in Peter’s world to a lot of browns, blues, and grays. The Alexa sensor had the depth of color to bring out the nuances of that color palette while holding on to accurate flesh tones so the images wouldn’t feel completely monochromatic. Another central part of the look was to use underexposure and embrace darkness to allow room for mystery. There were times we shot three to four stops underexposed, and I had to trick the meter just to get a reading. The Alexa sensor handled the deep underexposure beautifully.
“Them That Follow”
CInematographer Brett Jutkiewicz shooting “Them That Follow”
Dir: Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage DoP: Brett Jutkiewicz
Format: 3.2K ProRes
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke Speed Panchros
Jutkiewicz: The film is set in a rural Appalachian community that feels a bit like time moved on without it, so I wanted to create a look with a bit of an otherworldly quality to it, something not too modern or crisp. The image from the Alexa has a very organic, filmic feel and the vintage Cookes have a beautiful softness and a lot of character in how they flare and react to light sources in the frame. The combination of the two helped create a textural, slightly ethereal look. I also wanted to craft a visual language rooted in our protagonist Mara’s emotional journey, which often meant very intimate, tactile handheld camerawork and being physically close to our actors, so the Alexa Mini was great for keeping the size and presence of the camera rig small, and the beautiful focus fall-off of the lenses — especially shooting wide open — allowed me to isolate Mara in the frame and create a more subjective experience. Most of the film was shot handheld or on a tripod, but to separate and heighten the scenes of worship inside the town’s Pentecostal church I used fluid, energetic roaming steadicam shots, almost as if the camera itself, like the characters, had been overtaken by the holy spirit.
“To The Stars”
“To the Stars” cinematograher Andrew Reed
Dir: Martha Stephens, DoP: Andrew Reed
Format: ProRes 3.2K
Camera: Arri Alexa XT Plus
Lens: Panavision Primo
Reed: These tools were chosen for their familiarity, versatility, and excellent image rendering. The Alexa’s impressive dynamic range and naturalistic handling of highlights proved to be especially important for controlling and honing the film’s black-and-white aesthetic. And working with Panavision to customize the tuning of our lenses gave us additional degrees of specificity in terms of contrast and texture when defining the monochromatic look that best represents our tale of isolation and friendship in 1961 Oklahoma.
Shooting a film set in an historical era (and, in this case, one when cinema was already part of the cultural landscape) offers a myriad of challenges — not only in accurately depicting the period, but also in choosing a perspective communicated by our own formal choices. We were not interested in attempting to reproduce a relic by strictly adhering to conventions of the time or the media it produced. Nor were we looking to impose contemporary sensibilities, commenting on events through an anachronistic lens. Instead, we sought to strike a delicate balance, both narratively and technically. Among other things, we limited ourselves primarily to compositions and movements inspired by the era, while also purposefully deviating from this course at certain moments to incorporate instances of handheld or Steadicam. By acknowledging and respecting modes of the past, while also judiciously skewing our angle on the film towards something more current, we hopefully arrived at a place that is truthful and revealing to our characters and their environment.
Premieres are on the next page, NEXT films Page 3, Midnight film Page 4.
“After the Wedding”
“After the Wedding”
Dir: Bart Freundlich, DoP: Julio Macat
Format: Wide screen 2.40
Camera: Arri ALEXA 65
Lens: ARRI Prime 65 lenses with a couple of Vintage 765 lenses
Macat: We decide to take a classic storytelling approach. Director Bart Freundlich and I agreed to use the camera movement, composition, and lighting primarily as tools to enhance the performances of the actors. We decided to cut against the some of the inherent tension of the story, but still wanted to keep every frame visually interesting and layered. We often used the wide 28mm frame, which when used in this large format becomes a beautiful “presentational” lens. This allowed us to pack a lot of information in one shot as well as subtlety revealing rich details, both close and far in different parts of the frame. For medium and close up shots, the shallower depth of focus, which is achieved when filming with the 65 camera system, helped to draw attention to the actors and to create more of an impressionistic backdrop for the settings of the scenes. Besides being beautiful, it also allowed us to guide your attention to the important story aspects in each frame. As an example, a face could stand out and draw attention in a sea of people at a wedding reception. The goal was to highlight the performances of the characters in a classic manner in the way that some of the great films of the ’80’s did and not have heavy-handed camera movement get in the way of the story.
“Animals” DoP Bryan_Mason and director Sophie Hyde
Dir: Sophie Hyde, DoP: Bryan Mason
Format: 3.4K ProRes4444
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision PVintage
Mason: Sophie Hyde and I really wanted to capture the city of Dublin at night throughout the film and be enveloped in the world of our characters, in and out of bars, alleyways and their grand, dilapidated apartment. The combination of the Alexa Mini with the speed of the PVintage glass gave us a great ability to move fast with a small lighting package and really get a sense of the place.
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“Blinded By the Light”
Dir: Gurinder Chadha, DoP: Ben Smithard
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini.
Lens: Zeiss Ultraprimes and Angenieux Zooms
Smithard: Originally we were going to shoot on film, which is always perfect for period films, even one set in the recent past. However, we eventually decided on shooting digitally primarily because there was a huge amount of detail that we needed to capture, and that meant we were going to shoot a lot of footage. This is the primary reason that we decided to go digital: It gave us more scope to shoot more, something that may have been difficult with celluloid. The look of the film comes from many different aspects, the locations, the set dressing, the costumes, the makeup, hair, etc. The Alexa always just looks good and it’s an easy camera to work with and captures images that look “real.” The film has aspects of reality, humour, romance, and social history; the camera deals with these aspects neutrally, allowing what’s in front of the camera to express itself. In my mind, truth and honesty are the two most important aspects of moviemaking, especially when dealing with a real-life story like “Blinded by the Light.” As much as possible, I prefer the camera to be a passive observer. That way, when you want it to dictate a specific visual idea (like the fantasy scenes), it doesn’t confuse the audience: It’s obviously not real, and there is scope to break some of the conventional rules of filmmaking. Gurinder understands where the emotion is in a film, at all times.She’s an expert at that, and it’s my job to convey that emotion into the camerawork. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what camera system I use; it’s my job to capture that emotion and the story as a whole. I could have most likely shot it on any of the formats out there at the moment with the same results.
“The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind”
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”
Dir: Chiwetel Ejiofor, DoP: Dick Pope
Format: Widescreen 2.39:1 ArriRaw 2.8K
Camera: Arri Alexa Minis
Lens: Panavision Primo Prime lenses
Ejiofor: We shot widescreen to capture the vast landscape and skies as well as to give our crowd scenes the same epic feel. The Alexa Minis were great because they’re light and fast and also perfect for some of the smaller locations we were in. The Panavision Prime lenses have a beautiful, classic, timeless quality to them, which was perfect for the film. We shot the film entirely in real locations with many day exteriors under a relentless sun. Having the right tools was critical to capture the almost biblical vistas, as well as the tight, close-knit exploration of the family at the heart of our story.
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” DoP Brandon Trost and director Joe Berlinger shooting a scene with Zac Efron as Ted Bundy
Dir: Joe Berlinger, DoP: Brandon Trost
Format: 2.8k ProRes 4444 XQ
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision C-Series Anamorphic
Trost: Joe is a pioneer in the true-crime documentary world, and with his background comes a nuanced “fly on the wall” documentary aesthetic. We wanted to blend that look and feeling with a more classic cinematic tone and sense of scale. The Mini was a perfect fit, particularity for its size since we shot almost entirely handheld, but also for its ability to shoot anamorphic lenses on a full-size sensor. We wanted to emulate film as much as as possible and the Alexa helped achieve that, but the vintage anamorphic lenses were key. It’s an easy way to stay small with your camera footprint but get grand results. We leaned into a very “found” and practically lit look that worked marvelously. We almost always had the ability to shoot 360, and that really adds to the voyeuristic energy, as if the audience is right there with the characters.
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“I Am Mother”
“I Am Mother” director Grant Sputore
Dir: Grant Sputore, DoP: Steve Annis
Camera: Arri Alexa
Lens: Arri Master Anamorphics
Sputore: From the outset, Steve and I knew we wanted to shoot anamorphically — both as a throwback to the great sci-fi films that inspire us, and to bring some cinematic scale to what is largely a contained and intimate story. That said, we hoped to avoid the distortion that is often associated with anamorphic lenses. The world of “I Am Mother” is so tightly and precisely controlled, it felt right that the film’s visual style should be just as precise and considered. We imagined lots of symmetrical compositions, often filled with clean lines and hard divisions that we wanted to keep pure and straight. The master anamorphics are seemingly unparalleled when it comes to clarity and honest reproduction of what is in front of the lens. They also represent the pinnacle of modern lens technology, which felt appropriate for a story set in the near future featuring a cutting-edge robot. Those lenses are a miracle of modern engineering; Mother herself would be impressed.
“Late Night” DoP Matthew Clark
Dir: Nisha Ganatra, DoP: Matthew Clark
Camera: Panasonic Varicam 35
Lens: Panavision Ultraspeeds and Panavision Superspeeds
Clark: The look of “Late Night” came from a desire to create a natural world where our actors could feel free to play. Molly (Mindy Kaling) and Katherine (Emma Thompson) come from such different backgrounds; Nisha Ganatra, our director, really wanted the space to explore that, physically and comically. To be clear, we weren’t aiming for the natural style of a documentary, but more of a heightened realism. Even on our 25-day schedule, we still wanted to create three different worlds – the talk show studio, the writers’ office, and Katherine’s elegant personal life. The warmth and opulence of that personal life needed to be juxtaposed with a colder office setting and a neutral studio. Lighting was key to this, but so was post color. As the mood changed, (colorist) Sean Dunckley and I played with the color in the shadow detail, giving the film a subtle pre-flashed look that is designed to fit the emotion and context of each scene.
As for the camera, we decided to go with the Panasonic Varicam 35 and a combination of old Panavision Ultraspeed and Superspeed lenses. I feel like they smooth out the digital edge and allow for beautiful flares — very natural. Because a significant number of days were in a high-rise office where a generator and cable run were impossible on our budget, gaffer Ken Shibata, key grip Tommy Kerwick, Jr., and I decided to bail on the gennie for the whole shoot. On location, we bounced everything we could and we used LEDs, paper lanterns, practicals, and lighting that could be plugged into a house circuit. While we still had to shape the light, the 5000 ISO of the Varicam allowed us to achieve a low base exposure with very little equipment. By adapting, we were able to use the savings to light the talk show set and get manpower to help us move, sometimes to three or four locations a day. In turn, this gave Nisha more time with her actors on set. I think it was a good tradeoff.
“Official Secrets” DoP Dlorian Hoffmeister
Dir: Gavin Hood, DoP: Florian Hoffmeister
Format: Sony Venice 6K 1:2.39 spherical extraction
Camera: Sony Venice
Lens: Leica Summicron-Cs
Hoffmeister: “Official Secrets” tells the true story of Katharine Gun, a translator at GCHQ, who leaks top-secret information to press concerning illegal activities by the United States of America in their push for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In prep, director Gavin Hood and I talked a lot about what we felt is a fine line between the need to tell a story dramatically and the danger to overly dramatize. We wanted to maintain an intimate, vulnerable yet natural aesthetic. For me, large-format cinematography has become a great asset of digital filmmaking, and when our shoot coincided with the release of the Sony Venice, I immediately felt that that camera could provide what we were looking for. With the support of Movietech in London, we managed to get our hands on the first two camera bodies in Europe. Combined with the Leica Summicron-Cs, it produced atmospheric and distinguishable images that yet stayed very natural, maintaining immediacy and a beautifully subtle depiction of the vulnerability of Keira’s central performance.
“Paddleton” star Ray Romano and Nathan M. Miller
Dir: Alex Lehmann, DoP: Nathan M. Miller
Format: 4K, ProRes 422HQ, Canon Log2
Camera: Canon C700
Lens: Cooke Speed Panchros
Miller: Being a Netflix original film, “Paddleton” had to be a 4K acquisition, and having history with Canon we decided to go with the C700. I was extremely happy with how it performed. I’m always of the mindset that it’s not the camera that makes the movie, but the creative energy behind it. Having said that, you need the right tool to put your mind at ease. I knew we’d be switching back and forth between sticks and handheld pretty consistently, and the C700’s ergonomics felt very natural to me and I didn’t have to think twice about throwing it on my shoulder at a moment’s notice. I also knew there would be low-light situations where we’d have to jump above the camera’s native ISO and I’ve never been worried with Canon having to push into those higher realms. I love Cookes and I love the rich, warm world the Speed Panchros created. Simple as that. It’s also nice getting a little extra love mellowing out a sharp sensor. We were working off a “scriptment,” so the film is largely improvised. The goal was to allow for 360-degree shooting whenever possible to accommodate performance. Plus, when you’ve got Ray Romano in the room, you know he’s going to be sending you comedy gold every second, so we had to be on our toes constantly and this was the perfect camera package for the situation.
Dir: Ritesh Batra, DoP: Ben Kutchins
Format: 3.2 k Prores
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Ultra Prime and Superspeed
Hutchins: Ritesh and I spoke about the film having a visceral feel, shooting mostly handheld, and feeling very present with the actors. We spoke mostly about the emotion of the characters as opposed to logistics. We looked at a lot of still photographs and art, but our conversations about the characters emotional world were ultimately the most influential. Ritesh and I both prefer capturing scenes in one take, from beginning to end, without interruption. Even if it ends up as something edited later, we are always looking for that mysterious something that happens when actor and camera are in the moment together. When the artifice falls away and something “real” happens, that’s where the magic is.
I used an Alexa Mini and some old Ultra Speed and Super Speed lenses. I love the Alexa’s range and the way it handles skin tones. The older lenses added a little bit of imperfection that I look for when shooting with digital cameras. The film is in Hindi, and it was incredible to do a film entirely in a different language. We would be in the middle of a take and I’d be responding to intonation and body language. I can’t take any of my usual dialogue cues, so when I was operating the camera it was a strange feeling at first, but I grew to love it. It makes you pay attention on another level.
Dir: Jacob Aaron Estes, DoP: Sharone Meir
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Hawk v lite anamorphic
Estes: We used a Movi a lot. Needed a small camera, as our lenses were heavy.
[pmc-related-link href=”https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/the-report-review-adam-driver-annette-bening-sundance-2019-1202038732/” type=”Read More:” target=”_blank”]‘The Report’ Is a Riveting Journalistic Response to ‘Zero Dark Thirty’[/pmc-related-link]
“The Report” cinematographer Eigil Bryld
Dir: Scott Z. Burns, DoP: Eigil Bryld
Format: 2.8 Arriraw
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Master primes and uncoated ultra primes
Bryld: Our story, on paper, is somewhat complicated. Many names, various locations around the world, and it covers a number of years with a bunch of flashback sequences. So to keep the audience on track, we choose to treat the flashbacks and present day distinctly different. Part of this was lens choice. Present day was shot with master primes, and for the flashbacks we used uncoated ultra primes that pick up flare very easily and has less color saturation. This helped us make the flashbacks disorientating, almost broken images. The present day is more matter of fact, clean, and vibrant to help give attention to subtle nuances and creating tension.
“Sonja: The White Swan”
“Sonja: The White Swan” DoP Daniel Voldheim
Dir: Anne Sewitsky, DoP: Daniel Voldheim
Format: 2.8 K ARRIRAW
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke Anamorphic SF
Voldheim: Already in the initial discussions with director Anne Sewitsky about the visual style for “Sonja: The White Swan,” it was clear that anamorphic lenses would be the choice. We both love the way anamorphic lenses portray faces and intimate moments, and of course the way they capture more epic scenes. In portraying the rise and fall of figure skating ace, and Hollywood movie star, Sonja Henie, during Hollywood´s golden era in the ’40s and ’50s, this combination was unbeatable. The SF version of Cooke anamorphic were chosen because of their lovely flares and bokeh, beautiful skin-tone rendering, and the flexibility the 65 macro gave us.
“The Sunlit Night”
Behind the scenes of “The Sunlit Nation”
Dir:David Wnendt, DoP: Martin Ahlgren
Format: 2.8K ProRes Anamorphic
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke Anamorphic
Ahlgren: At first we considered changing lenses between New York and Norway because we wanted a very different feel to those two worlds, but in the end we decided to do it more through framing and camera movement. I thought widescreen was a natural fit to a story that takes place in the dramatic landscape of Lofoten, Norway, but I had to convince director David Wnendt that we should use anamorphic lenses. He thought a less wide format might be better suited in many situations and was worried that the lenses would not be as flexible as spherical glass, especially in terms of close focus, which was an important aspect for us. The Cooke Anamorphic 65mm is a macro lens that’s able to focus all the way up to the front element without having to add diopters, giving us the kind of flexibility that you usually don’t have with this format. I loved using it handheld and being able to get right up close to the actors when needed. Like so often happens once you start shooting, we quickly found which lenses worked best for us, and the majority of the film was done either on the 32mm or the 65mm.
“The Tomorrow Man”
“The Tomorrow Man” director-DoP Noble Jones and star John Lithgow
Dir & DoP: Noble Jones
Format: Red 6K raw
Camera: Red Xenomorph
Lens: Leica Summilux
Jones: I had the good fortune of having David Fincher loan me his Xenomorph for the production on the condition that I gave it a good workout and make plenty of notes for possible improvements. The combination of the Xenomorph and Leica lenses allowed me to push the boundaries in lighting and the 6k frame allowed me to make use of all the tools of post production, including stabilization, to maximize our production. I used a primarily tungsten approach to lighting with lots of negative on exteriors to give contrast when the scene needed it, which in my opinion, was pretty much always on this film. I’m enamored of classic movies of the late ’40s and I tried to combine that visual discipline with a slightly softer but still directional lighting style to imbue the modern look of sensors with the classic feel of old Hollywood.
“Top End Wedding”
Behind the scenes of “Top End Wedding”
Dir: Wayne Blair, DoP: Eric Murray Lui
Format: ARRIRAW 16×9 for 2.40 Frame Cut Out
Camera: Arri ALEXA Mini, Additional Camera for Aerials: Drone DJ Inspire 2 – 4K Camera
Lens: Cooke S4 Primes, Panavision Zoom 11-1 (24mm – 275mm), Panavision zoom 4-1 (17.5mm – 75mm)
Lui: The Alexa Minis (and Arri Alexas cameras) produce great images, have great functional durability — and in my mind, are the best choice if you are shooting in remote areas of Australia. With lensing we primarily shot on the Cooke Primes. Within our story, we move from the city to remote regions of Australia and we needed lenses that could be ’travel hardy’, consistent, and cinematically faithful in color. The Cookes proved to be the ones to do that.
Dir: Bert & Bertie, DoP: James Whitaker
Format: 3.4k Open Gate ArriRaw
Camera: Alexa SXT and Mini cameras
Lens: Vantage Mini Hawks
Whitaker: From my first conversations with Bert & Bertie, we always talked about shooting “Troop Zero” with anamorphic lenses. We wanted the look to have a strong personality with distortion to photograph the landscapes of New Orleans and the great faces of our cast. Our story, written by Lucy Alibar (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), is centered on a young girl played McKenna Grace. We wanted the photography to very much feel like it was from her point of view. Anamorphic lenses are tremendous, but we discovered limitations — the need to bring our characters from far away and land them in close up just a few inches from the lens. Vantage Mini Hawks are spherical lenses with a double aperture. One for light, and one for a bokeh that can appear similar to anamorphic. They are light, sharp, and then soft where you want them to be. Minimum focus for many of the focal lengths is right on the front element. Our film was set in the ’70s, but we wanted to achieve a timeless look. They, combined with my digital favorite of Alexa cameras, worked beautifully with the soft, naturalistic environments we filmed in.
Robert Elswit shooting “Velvet Buzzsaw” on the new Millennium DXL2 8K camera for Netflix
Dir: Dan Gilroy, DoP: Robert Elswit
Format: 8k Redraw
Camera: Panavision DXL2
Lens: Panavision Superspeeds and Ultraspeeds lenses modifies to cover the full sensor
Elswit: The 8k was a request from Netflix to help with VFX. Netflix requires their original productions to originate in 4K. Unfortunately, the Alexa LF wasn’t available when we went into production.
NEXT films are on the next page, Midnight page 4, U.S. Dramatic Competition page 1.
Behind the scenes of shooting “Adam”
Dir: Rhys Ernst, DoP: Shawn Peters
Camera: Arri Mini
Lens: Vintage Canon K35
Peters: We tested many prime lenses and decided on the K35’s for there combination of timeless milky-ness in the blacks, rich skin tones, and beautiful color saturation. The goal of the cinematography was to key into the humanity of our characters, so rich, true fleshtones were important. Our lighting aproach was crafted and carved naturalism that freed the camera placement to tell the story through placement and movement. It’s a story around intimacy and friendship, and there is an inherent romantic approach to the photography.
“The Death of Dick Long”
Dir: Daniel Scheinert, DoP: Ashley Connor
Format: 2.8k protea 4444, but not raw
Camera: Arri Alexa XT
Lens: Panavision Primos and the 11:1 24-270mm Primo zoom
Connor: Daniel and I had many conversations about the look of the film, and it never fell into a “vintage” category. We wanted the images to feel immediate and concrete; we didn’t use softening filters or anything like that. The Primos emerged as a great lens set because it was perfect for our mix of portraiture and landscape, and ultimately created a cleaner image. The look of the film was inspired by a mixture of Coen Brothers meets William Friedkin meets early Wim Wenders. We tried building a lot of saturation and primary, bold colors into the frame and thanks to brilliant production design from Ali Rubinfeld, we were able to maintain that palette. The film, to me, is a lot about failed instances of intimacy — so we played with proximity to the subject a lot.
“Give Me Liberty”
Shooting “Give Me Liberty”
Dir: Kirill Mikhanovsky, DoP: Wyatt Garfield
Format: 3.2K ProRes & 16mm
Camera: Alexa Mini and Krasnogorsk K3
Lens: Zeiss Super Speeds
Garfield: “Give Me Liberty” was all about capturing lively and authentic energy in front of the camera. We wanted to shoot on 16mm because it is a lively, reactive medium: The grain is wild and the image never rests.
We ended up needing to find a digital solution, and the small size of the Alexa Mini was great for squeezing inside our main location: the transit van. Digital can feel very static, so we paired our Alexa with Super Speeds, which have a simple look that is still very reactive to light with some flaring and veiling that keep the image active. We added some thin netting to make edges flare and fragment a little more, and added heavy film grain in post to keep the image restless. We followed most action on the 25mm, widening to 18mm when the scenes became more hyperactive and narrowing to 50mm/85mm for portraits and perspective. We shot a few fragmentary sequences of Vic’s subconscious on 16mm with Kirill’s personal K-3, which bring some additional liveliness. Once we chose our camera and lenses, we let go of a lot of control and invited much chance and chaos into the process. I think it’s a beautiful film, but beauty was not something we were applying; it was something we were allowing to happen in front of the camera.
“The Infiltrators” director Alex Rivera and DoP Lisa Rinzler
Dir: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, DOP: Lisa Rinzler
Format: Arri Raw, Panasonic Cine D 1080
Camera: Alexa, Panasonic Lumix GH4
Lens: Cooke S4 Primes for Alexa, 20mm Prime for Lumix
Rinzler: There were two distinct looks for the “The Infiltrators.” Alex Rivera shot the documentary sections hand held and rough with a small DSLR camera, and I shot the narrative sequences with the Alexa. The narrative elements with actors on location were designed to be against type for the Detention Center and to have a smoother, more controlled look — which is why we chose the Alexa and the Cooke S4 lenses. The shots were largely choreographed as single-shot design for Steadicam. We chose this style for the narrative with the concept to feel the characters interconnected and weaving in and out of each other’s lives and spaces, as well as throughout the Detention Center location itself. We questioned whether narrative elements with actors should be rough and visually match the documentary sections, or instead contradict that style and look separate and distinctively different from each other. We decided on the latter. Also in discussion was how seamless the intercutting would be between “real” people and actors. We ultimately decided that we would not try to trick the mind into not knowing whether we were viewing real or fiction, but rather to be clear in separating the narrative from the documentary. Having said that, “The Infiltrators” story is true and the directors Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra were were committed to telling the story truthfully and portraying the people accurately. Interweaving the elements of actors with non-actors in an organic, fluid way was a wonderful challenge in which we strove to surpass the feel of “recreations.”
“Light From Light”
“Light from Light” Director Paul Harrill and DoP Greta Zozula
Dir: Paul Harrill, DoP: Greta Zozula
Format: DIGITAL 3.2K
Camera: ARRI ALEXA MINI
Lens: COOKE S4 primes 40mm, 75mm
Zozula: Light From Light’s characters are seeking answers to questions about their individual lives and also about bigger mysteries. We aimed for simplicity, and used structured, classic compositions to tell the story. We referenced a lot of paintings when talking about lighting and color. Vermeer, Wyeth and Hopper were the big influences. Wyeth’s “Helga” series and Vermeer’s “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window” had the most overall impact. Wyeth had a strategic influence in our direction on color. We stuck to a warmer palette with muted greens and browns, reserving color pops for blue and yellow accents. Vermeer was more for lighting quality — softer keys with hard falloffs. We chose Cooke S4s because of their softer attributes and warmer skin tone, and limited our focal lengths to a select few. The 40mm was the dominant workhorse, but felt it was important to have the 75mm for key inflective moments.
Dir: Alice Waddington, DoP: Josu Inchaustegui
Format: 3.4K open gate
Camera: Arri Alexa MINI
Lens: Leica summilux
Inchaustegui: The camera had to be light to allow us to use the movi as the main support and the lenses have enough personality.
Behind the scenes of shooting “Premature”
Dir: Rashaad Ernesto Green, DoP: Laura Valladao
Format: 16mm Film
Camera: Arri 416
Lens: Zeiss Ultra16 Primes
Valladao: Rashaad and I felt strongly about shooting 16mm from the beginning. The film is set in Harlem in the summer, and we wanted a format that would complement the nostalgic and textural feel of the piece, as well as contribute to the intimacy of the content. 16mm allowed us to stay compact and low profile. We had a small team and limited budget, and we were able to move quickly, working with the natural light and textures we had available to us.
“Selah and the Spades”
“Selah and the Spades” DoP Jomo Fray
Dir: Tayarisha Poe, DoP: Jomo Fray
Format: 4K ProRes HQ
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Kowa Cine Prominar Spherical Lenses
Fray: We were interested in points of contrast — places where the surface did not match the deeper underlying motives. The director and I came up with the term Savage Formalism to describe the visual style of the film to ourselves during filming. Savage, not in the anthropological sense of the term, but from the meaning of the word in Rihanna’s 2016 album “ANTI.” Savage as brutal, cool, powerful. We wanted to build a formalism borne of that energy. An image that is composed with a certain brutality to it, an inherent coolness, but also a quality of unease/disquiet. An image with youth, but offers us a picture of a pretty vicious world. Toward this, we found ourselves being guided by the principles and design of brutalist architecture — the lines, the austerity, the density. Brutalism has an inherent duality to it; it was born out of a ethically utopic vision of human co-habitation, despite having that same energy linked to a set of people trying to process the atrocities coming out of World War II. There’s a strange duality there, and “Selah and the Spades” similarly has a duality to it. It’s about kids who are having fun in high school, but the underbelly is a meditation on power and what it takes to hold power. The Kowas were a great tool in telling that story because of the inherent color contrast present in the glass itself. The way they resolve color and the stark difference in the quality of their flares from that color profile was really intriguing for us. And although the locations were extremely picturesque New England vistas, we found ourselves shooting a lot on wide to ultra-wide lenses primarily as a way to distort the landscape and gesture toward the ways in which brutalism was playing with shape and form. The aberrations that were introduced into the image really helped to ground it in the world we envisioned. Ideally, the world is both parts recognizable and unrecognizable at every turn.
[pmc-related-link href=”https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/sundance-2019-selah-and-the-spades-trailer-factions-1202037815/” type=”Read More:” target=”_blank”]‘Selah and the Spades’ Trailer: Sundance Drama Explores Underground Life at Boarding School[/pmc-related-link]
“Sister Aimee” DoP Carlos Valdes-Lora
Dir: Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann, DoP: Carlos Valdes-Lora
Format: 3.2K ProRes 4444 XQ
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke Mini S4 Primes (25mm and 32mm Primarily)
Valdes-Lora: In early conversations with the directors, we all agreed that we didn’t want “Sister Aimee” to feel like a traditional period movie. We didn’t want to use softening filters or vintage lenses. We aimed instead for clear images, deep focus, and a rich color palette that remains grounded in the real world. We felt that this would lend the story a greater sense of immediacy and draw the viewer closer to the characters. Following that same thinking, we worked very extensively with the 25mm and 32mm, especially in closeups and medium closeups, emphasizing accessibility.The Cooke Mini S4s are a beautiful and affordable set (relative to our other options). We like the way they give deep dimensionality and warmth to faces, and how they create a slightly lower-contrast image compared to the other modern lenses we looked at. They quickly became the right choice for us, striking the right balance between quality, size, and value. The Cookes paired with the Alexa Mini gave us a lightweight camera system with a very contained footprint, and we needed to stay fast and lean due to our compressed shooting schedule and often tight shooting quarters. The Chapman Cobra dolly was a big help in that regard as well.
“The Wolf Hour”
Dir: Alistair Banks Griffin, DoP: Khalid Mohtaseb
Format: Digital, 2.35 aspect ratio, Anamorphic 444xq
Camera: Arri Alexa mini
Lens: Panavision T-Series Anamorphic
Mohtaseb: Perhaps the most challenging part about making The Wolf Hour was the aggressive shooting schedule. The film was shot in 18 days, in which three days were on location and 15 days were on stage. From the very first few conversation Banks and I had, it was clear we were going after a very singular perspective of the main character but at the same time wanted to create a big cinematic image in a confined space and there was no question that we’d be going anamorphic. So that led to testing almost every close-focus anamorphic lens on the market. We landed on the Panavision T-series for practical and creative reasons. With traditional anamorphics, close focus is usually quite limited, which forces the DOP to use diopters to get closer. It might sound silly, but if you add up the time, it could actually cost a full day or even more swapping them out. The T-series provided an incredibly impressive close focus range and we almost never used diopters throughout the shoot. Creatively, Banks and I wanted to shoot the ’70s with a timeless look. This meant staying away from vintage lenses; the look can be a bit over the top for a period film. We shot a lighting and lens test with Naomi Watts, and we both knew immediately when we put up the T-series that they were right. They had a beautiful intimacy to them for such big glass, and there was really no other discussion after that. Panavision New York and Marni Zimmerman were very supportive to our creative process throughout the entire shooting schedule.
Film in the Midnight section are on the next page, U.S. Dramatic Competition Page 1, Premieres Page 2.
“Corporate Animals” cinematographer Tarin Anderson
Dir: Patrick Brice, DoP: Tarin Anderson
Format: ProRes 4444 XQ
Camera: Arri Alexa Minis
Lens: Ultra Primes
Anderson: Director Patrick Brice and I talked about the creative challenge of shooting a comedy almost all in a cave and in the dark. Even though the hero sets would be a stage build, I knew we would be tucking ourselves into some small nooks and crannies and would benefit from a smaller-profile camera body, so we decided to go with the Alexa Minis. We tested several lens sets and noticed that a lot of lenses were giving us star flares or bigger halation around the point of light and would potentially hide our actors’ faces while they were wearing headlamps. In the end, we fell in love with the look of the Ultra Primes and the natural flare we got. We lit mostly with LEDs, which allowed us to make quick color temperature changes for light gags while rolling and keep the same color temperature on camera throughout. We also used with the LED RGB Filter to give us some fun in-camera color changes on a scene where one of the actors is having a break with reality. Overall, the camera and lenses were exactly what Patrick and I were looking for to visually tell the story, move quickly around in small spaces, and give us the handheld and intimate look we wanted.
Behind the scenes of shooting “Greener Grass”
Dir: Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, DoP: Lowell A. Meyer
Format: 3.2K (Prores 4444) internally
Camera: ARRI Alexa Mini.
Lens: Angenieux Optimo zooms and primes, Zeiss Standard and Super Speeds.
Meyer: We chose the Arri Alexa Mini because it’s a camera that I’ve come to trust in any environment to provide clean, manipulatable, and beautiful footage without giving us any production or post-production headaches. For zooms, we wielded the incredible Angenieux Optimo 24-290mm T2.8 and a matching (and much more petite!) Angenieux Optimo 30-80mm T2.6. For primes, we chose a set of ARRI/Zeiss Standard Speeds T2.1 and a matching set of ARRI/Zeiss Super Speeds T1.3. They were the right tools because they spoke to us, our cast, and our crew. Every time we’d watch playback, we’d be cackling behind the monitor at what we’d just created. While I’d like to attribute all of that laughter to the genius of our writer-directors and our cast, it makes me proud to think that in my own very small way me and my team helped add to the visual punchline of every joke on screen. Hopefully our audiences will feel the same way.
“The Hole in the Ground”
Behind the scenes of shooting “The Hole in the Ground”
Dir: Lee Cronin, DoP: Tom Comerford
Format: 4:3 2.8k ProRes
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke Anamorphic Lenses
Cronin: Myself and director of photography Tom Comerford wanted to create a classic, composed image, as cinematic as possible within the constraints of time and budget. After multiple tests, everyone was on board with shooting anamorphic widescreen. The Cooke lenses gave us a soft, slightly dreamy look with a depth of field that kept our main character isolated in the frame even on the wider lenses. The film has a very singular POV, and this really worked for us.
“Little Monsters” star Lupita Nyongo and director Abe Forsythe
Dir: Abe Forsythe, DoP: Lachlan Milne
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision Primo Noir
Milne: Lots of the film was going to be handheld and really close to the kids. We needed a camera package that would be able to react accordingly without drawing too much attention to itself or take too long to reconfigure. Using filters in front of the lens creates a mirror; with kids, this can be incredibly distracting especially when you have tight eyelines off camera. We opted for the Alexa Mini with its internal ND filters that can be adjusted mid-take, paired with the Panavision Primo Noir lenses. The lenses had a coating manipulation internally, which gives the out of focus areas a kind of halated softness and a slightly older lens feel. The Primos also have a great wider angle focal length range which was where the majority of the movie was going to sit.
Dir: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, DoP: Thimios Bakatakis
Format: 35mm Film
Camera: Arricam LT
Lens: Panavision Ultra Speeds & Primos
“Mope” Cinematographer Bryan Koss
Dir: Lucas Heyne, DoP: Bryan Koss
Format: Arri Log C 4444 XQ UHD
Camera: Arri ALEXA Mini
Lens: Cooke Speed Panchro and Telepanchros Rehoused by True Lens Services
Koss: The very first talks with director Lucas Heyne we had talked about the realism of the look, feel, and tone. The script and content we were dealing with was very dark. However, it was based on a true story in the San Fernando Valley just a few years prior. Lucas had done his homework in research and extensive interviews with those close to the subjects and we wanted to feed on that realism and bring sort of a quasi documentary narrative to the screen. The Cooke Speed Panchros combined with the Alexa Mini was the perfect tool for the job. The film is 99 percent handheld; we stripped the camera down to the bones with only wireless and multiple handles in different ergonomic positions, allowing for on the shoulder, hip or floor in the same take.
Lots of locations we wanted to keep rather dull, but still lived in. We took an approach to using available light and mostly practicals and would come up with blocking that kept the actors free but still got them in and out of certain exposure levels at certain beats in a scene. Combining that approach with shooting docustyle 360 degrees we were able to heighten and mold the narrative pacing along the way. The Cooke Speed Panchros have a wonderful built-in texture. Being rehoused vintage lenses from the 30s, 40s and 50s you’re naturally going to have different aging of coatings and lots of interesting flare shapes. We used a complete set of all 12 primes from 18mm up to the 506mm Telepanchro Prime. I love using Cookes and certainly these vintage lenses lend a sense of imperfection which is parallel to the world and situations our characters find themselves in. They naturally have a lower contrast but we were able to develop some amazing variations of looks and build that contrast back into certain sequences while working with an amazing colorist, Alastor Arnold and Fotokem.
“Wounds” director Babak Anvari with Dakota Johnson and Armie Hammer
Dir:Babak Anvari, DoP: Kit Fraser
Format: 3.8K ProRes 4444 XQ
Camera: Alexa Mini
Lens: Leica Summilux-C
Fraser: Director Babak Anvari and I felt that a handheld camera was right for this film from the beginning. We wanted to be able to follow the characters in a very free manner, but maintain a rougher edge to the motion than a dolly or Steadicam would have given us. It was important that the camera and lens package was lightweight, but that we didn’t compromise on image quality and had the ability of RAW recording for a number of VFX sequences. We also needed to be able to shoot in very low-light situations, as much of the script involves mobile phones and we were keen to use the real light from the phones to illuminate the characters. We planned to shoot most of the film with wide lenses too and we wanted to place the characters at the edges of frames without feeling the usual distortions associated with these focal lengths. We tested the Alexa Mini, Panavision DXL2, and the Sony Venice along with many different brands of lenses and projected the results. We ultimately decided that pairing the Alexa Mini with the Leica Summilux-C’s fulfilled every need. However, this combination (along with every other digital format and modern-day lens we tested) still felt too clean and sharp for a film that was based on a novella called The Visible Filth! To add a final layer of texture, we rated the camera at 1600iso and added a pushed-35mm grain effect in the DI with our excellent colourist, Matt Watson at SHED.
Films in U.S. Dramatic Competition are on Page 1, Premieres Page 2, NEXT Page 3.