2021’s best cinematographers tell IndieWire how they created the look of their awards contending films.
“The Power of the Dog” cinematographer Ari Wegner. Kirsty Griffin/Netflix
IndieWire reached out to the directors of photography whose films are in awards contention and are among the most critically acclaimed films of the year to find out which cameras and lenses they used and, more importantly, why these were the right tools to create the visual language of their respective films.
All films are listed alphabetically by title.
Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth on the set of “Being the Ricardos”. Glen Wilson/Amazon Content Services LLC
“Being the Ricardos”
Dir: Aaron Sorkin, DoP: Jeff Cronenweth
Format: 2:40 8k with a 10% reduction for frame adjustments and stabilization
Camera: Red Ranger 8k VV
Lens: Arri DNA Primes
Cronenweth: It always starts with the story and with an Aaron Sorkin script you are going to be taken on a human rollercoaster of emotion and humor through challenging interpersonal relationships. Spherical 2:40 was the right choice in representing the scale (or lack of) and the era the film takes place during. The approach to “Being The Ricardos” was to capture the rich tonalities of the ’50s and keep characters present in their worlds but isolated as individuals contemplating their personal challenges. The idea was to embrace contrast dramatically but never have darkness for the sake of dark and to keep the sets rich but with points of light appreciating the space. Then we utilized 8k to create a shallow depth of field isolating the actors but keeping spatial content. Shooting a period piece, you are always attracted to the technical imperfections and limitations of that era and determining what to embrace. I went with the Arri DNA glass as they were the perfect balance of both worlds: full frame lenses that were conceived out of vintage glass rehoused in contemporary casings, bringing the artifacts and aberrations that add so much character to the visuals without the veiling and hazing from old coatings. Each lens had its own personality and brought a little bit of magic to each shot.
Cinematorgrapher Haris Zambarloukos and writer/director Kenneth Branagh on the set of “Belfast”. Rob Youngson/Focus Features
Dir: Kenneth Branagh, DoP: Haris Zambarloukos
Format: 4K ArriRaw
Camera: Alexa Mini LF
Lens: Panavision 65mm: System 65 and Sphero lenses
Zambarloukos: To start, we wanted to make a film without the use of traditional film lighting, something that would feel authentic to the atmosphere of Belfast. We looked at Magnum photographers of the time like Philip Jones Griffiths and imagined a feel like that of a LIFE magazine spread. So we built our sets with real practical lighting, carefully positioned windows and exterior spaces (alongside production designer Jim Clay) to maximize natural light, and chose our camera package to try to design our look architecturally and naturalistically.
We also wanted to be as immersive as possible, choosing a medium-format compact digital camera and 65mm film lenses: a unique combination of the very latest camera and one of a kind vintage lenses. You get to see every freckle on our young protagonist’s face, with lucid and intimate compositions that show everything from the particular point-of-view of a child.
The decision to shoot mostly in black and white was for us a means of drawing the audience in and drawing the story out organically. Color focuses on how people look, but black and white has the power to portray how people feel. It has the unique ability to transcend, simultaneously imaginative and naturalistic, seeming to capture characters both without and within. If a film’s ultimate aim is to explore the human condition – and portraiture is the landscape of the human condition – then film can reveal humanity’s most beautiful colors in black and white.
On the set of “Bergman Island”. courtesy of filmmaker
Dir: Mia Hansen-Løve, DoP: Denis Lenoir
Format: 35mm 2 perf, 2.39 ratio
Camera: ArriCam Lite
Lens: Leitz Summilux primes; Fujinon Premier zoom
Lenoir: I like the way these two sets of lenses, the Summilux primes and Fujinon Premier, perfectly match. I am not a big fan of flare and with these lenses I can shoot against windows with minimum degradation.
Cinematographer Paula Huidobro and director Sian Heder on the set of “CODA”. David Newsom
Dir: Sian Heder, DoP: Paula Huidobro
Format: Sony Venice 6k
Camera: Sony Venice
Lens: Arri Signature LF primes
Huidobro: “CODA” is a powerful coming of age story set in a fishing town in Massachusetts. The intention behind our our visual language was to tell the story in a realistic yet intimate way. We wanted to capture what it feels like to be 17, the struggles of becoming your own person and the unique sense of possibility, hope and some times heartache with the choices life presents.
“CODA” is the story of Ruby, a hearing girl in a deaf family. The story was full warmth, a strong loving family, a fishing village, a high school, and a community. We wanted the images to make you feel part of it. Nature, the ocean and music were also always present on our mind as we told the story. I loved the resolution of the Sony Venice for the wide landscapes and the ocean. I loved the tonal range and the high iso. The lenses are really beautiful portrait lenses.
Cinematographer Robbie Ryan on the set of “C’mon C’mon”. Joe Nankin
Dir: Mike Mills, DoP: Robbie Ryan
Format: 2.8k ArriRaw
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision primos; Zoom 19-90/p vintage
Ryan: This film was always going to be black and white and we tested all different cameras and formats … but decided on the Arri Mini as it held up well to all the other cameras and I felt it was very quick and versatile in the way we needed to shoot. Obviously, being a black and white film, it had a look imposed to tell the story in a certain way. It helped merge the different types of story telling into a uniform way. It’s a joy to work in a black and white world!
Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey on the set of “Cyrano”. Peter Robertson
Dir: Joe Wright, DoP: Seamus McGarvey
Format: ArriRaw 1;2.39 aspect ratio
Camera: Alexa LF and Alexa Mini LF
Lens: Leitz Large Format Primes; Leitz 25-75mm zoom; Angenieux Optimo zoom 24-435mm
McGarvey: We wanted lenses that could be filtered softer for the more romantic, innocent beginning of the film. I used Christian Dior 10 denier nets on the back of the lenses. Sometimes the effect was quite strong so we also had a set of Tiffen Black Glimmer Glass. The city of Noto where we shot has the most beautiful Baroque architecture with honey colored stone which the Sicilian light bounces off so beautifully. This showed me how to approach the lighting tones of the film. When the story moves into war, which we shot on Mount Etna in Sicily, I pulled all the filters and we shot clean to give veracity and contrast to the picture. We wanted a much more monochromatic, lithographic feel.
At the end of the film when Cyrano goes to see Roxanne at the convent, we consciously overexposed the scenes to create a celestial whiteness to depict the onset of death. We shot large format on the Alexa LF because although we have many big vistas and wide shots we knew that a lot of the storytelling was going to be in portraiture and big close ups. This format with the Leitz glass were perfect for this.
On the set of “Drive My Car”. courtesy of filmmaker
“Drive My Car”
Dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, DoP: Hidetoshi Shinomiya
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss ultra prime; Angenieux HR zoom
Shinomiya: The film crew needed to have a minimal presence on this film, because the cast was the primary focus and the crew respected this. The direction of Ryusuke Hamaguchi restrains the emotion of the images as much as possible, putting the emphasis on the acting. We needed to depict accurately what happened before the camera, and we could capture the charm of the subjects directly thanks to the expressiveness of Zeiss ultra prime. By using the Alexa mini, we had a rich expressiveness and stable mobility to grasp the moments, which happened inevitably and accidentally through the direction’s approach.
On the set of “Dune”. Chia Bella James/courtesy of filmmaker
Dir: Denis Villeneuve, DoP: Greig Fraser
Format: Large format digital anamorphic and open gate spherical
Camera: Alexa LF
Lens: Panavision Ultra Vista Anamorphics; Panavision H series spherical
Fraser: We tested film and digital extensively to craft the look of these worlds. Film felt too nostalgic, and Alexa by itself felt, for this film, too digital. We helped this by using vintage glass for the IMAX footage (Panavision H series) and newer, yet curated glass in the Ultra Vista Anamorphics, for all the non-imax work. Between the use of the large format digital camera, older glass, and a film out process performed by FotoKem, we achieved a look which was unlike anything we have shot before.
Given the strong mix of practical sets, real locations, and visual effects, this process allowed us to benefit from the positive elements of our smaller than normal digital cameras, yet retain an analogue quality to the lenses, backed up by the analogue quality of the film out. This, along with a strict adherence to accurate lighting in every scenario, helped integrate the visual effects into the live action photography.
Cinematographer Robert Yeoman on the set of “The French Dispatch”. Roger Do Minh
“The French Dispatch”
Dir: Wes Anderson, DoP: Robert Yeoman
Format: 35mm film; 5213 for color, 5222 for black and white
Camera: ArriCam ST; ArriCam LT
Lens: Cooke S4’s for the spherical 1.37 sequences; Arriflex Master Anamorphic for the anamorphic 2.40 sequences.
Yeoman: Wes and I started using the Cooke S4’s on “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and we loved the look and character of the lenses. We decided to continue using them on “The French Dispatch” and we again were very happy.
I started using the Arri Master Anamorphics a few years ago and I felt these would be perfect for our movie. Wes frequently fills the frame with actors, often on the edges, and we obviously wanted them to be in focus. Many of the more vintage anamorphic lenses are sharp in the middle but soft on the edges and I knew that this is not what we wanted. Again, I felt the Arri Master Anamorphics were the perfect choice.
Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo on the set of “The Green Knight”. Courtesy of filmmaker
“The Green Knight”
Dir: David Lowrey, DoP: Andrew Droz Palermo
Format: ArriRaw Opengate 6.5K
Camera: Alexa 65
Lens: Arri DNA
Droz Palermo: We wanted the world of “The Green Knight” to feel wide and epic, yet intimate and immersive. Those goals are a little at odds, but the Alexa 65 allowed us to get close to our subjects without losing a sense of their place within a landscape. It was equally important that the film feel deeply subjective to our hero Gawain’s emotional journey, and we employed lots of lighting and camera tricks to do that: rotating the camera 360 degrees and back again to glimpse a brutal death that could be, the sun breaking the horizon and filling a room at the end of a good deed, or something as down and dirt and simple as Vaseline on a vintage lens to peek into a hazy future.
On the set of “The Hand of God”. Gianni Fiorito/Netflix
“The Hand of God”
Dir: Paolo Sorrentino, DoP: Daria D’Antonio
Format: 8K HD Redcode Raw
Camera: Red DSMC2 Monstro
Lens: Arri Signature Prime lenses
D’Antonio: I found in the choice of the large format, and in particular of the Arri Signature, lenses that I used something that brought me even closer to the young Fabietto. That young man who later became the man I have known for a long time, a director with whom I have been working for many years, but above all a brother. Being next to him in this reckless and emotional journey required absolute respect, a mimetic attitude and a great lightness of mind. I liked that the image was rich in detail but that it had a softness, like a caress. I liked the idea that the human figure was in the foreground, that in the background many elements could be perceived but did not distract from emotion and thoughts of the characters on stage. I liked that the colors were discreet, that the diegetic movements and lights were descriptive of an emotion and that they supported emphasis or normality, making sure not to transfigure it.
“The Hand of God” was a special job for me, in which more than usual I acted in total respect of the story without being protagonist, gracefully trying to accommodate a sweet and delicate course of events. I am happy to have been able to lay my gaze on such interesting and strongly symbolic human characters, on my city so beautiful and complex and above all on the wonderful women who populate the story. I am happy I was able to be young again, through Fabietto’s gaze.
Cinematographer Mihai Mălaimare Jr. on the set of “The Harder They Fall”. David Lee/Netflix
“The Harder They Fall”
Dir: Jeymes Samuel, DoP: Mihai Mălaimare Jr.
Format: Anamorphic 2.39:1
Camera: Panavision DXL2 and Red Monstro
Lens: Panavision T series 1.85x anamorphic; Panavision Panaspeed; Panavision Prism Anamorphic 1.3x
Mălaimare: The Panavision DXL2 is an incredibly versatile platform. The Red Monstro sensor and the Light Iron color science was the perfect combo for the color saturation we wanted to achieve. The 1.85x T series lenses provided us with incredible pleasant fall off, great flares, and amazing skin tone rendition. I remember Jeymes and I discussing very early on that this project has to be wide screen and definitely anamorphic. The anamorphic fall off will force you into framing the characters dead center and we embraced that entirely.
The Red Monstro was our compact camera, which allowed us to mount it on rifles, on Rufus’ hand, cable cam, motorized sliders on the ceiling of the train car, and drone shots. We wanted to make a Western that sometimes pays tribute to the genre but we really wanted to make a new type of Western.
Cinematographer and director Paul Thomas Anderson on the set of “Licorice Pizza. Courtesy of filmmaker
Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson, DoP: Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael Bauman
Camera: Panavision Millenium XL
Lens: Panavision C Series and a few custom made lenses from Panavision
Bauman: To create the look of the ’70s, the C Series anamorphic were an essential foundation for getting some of the classic looking ’70s flares. Paul also has some of his own glass which we used, primarily an old 50mm Pathe. A huge inspiration for the look of the movie was George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” which came out in the same year “Licorice Pizza” is set.
Director Maggie Gyllenhaal and cinematographer Hélène Louvart on the set of “The Lost Daughter”. Yannis Drakoulidis/Netflix
“The Lost Daughter”
Dir: Maggie Gyllenhaal, DoP: Hélène Louvart
Format: 2.8K ArriRaw
Camera: Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke S4
Louvart: We wanted to shoot with flexible tools. The Alexa Mini seemed like the right choice and we decided to use the Cooke S4 lenses which are very good at achieving a “soft and nice” skin tone – not too sharp. We wanted to shoot in Super 16mm but in fact digital became a good choice as well. We wanted to be close to the characters, to move with them, without using a zoom. And the flexibility of the camera was very important for Maggie to be able to get the moments with the children, with the adults, and the emotional aspect of the scenes. For the light we managed to organize some pre-light to be more flexible and “ready to shoot” without wasting time during the start of the day. The light was related to the mood of the characters, especially when we were shooting the memories of the main character, we could get more fantasy on it and also make a difference with the present.
Cinematographer Daniele Massaccesi and director Lana Wachowsky on the set of “The Matrix Resurrections”. Courtesy of filmmaker
“The Matrix Resurrections”
Dir: Lana Wachowsky, DoP: Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll
Camera: Red Ranger
Massaccesi: “The Matrix” has always been a movie that visually was advanced. “The Matrix Resurrections” was 20 years after the first one, things had changed in what the world was so we decided to find a new look, to create a Matrix reality that looked more real that the reality itself.
Cinematographer Dan Lausten on the set of “Nightmare Alley”. Searchlight Pictures
Dir: Guillermo del Toro, DoP: Dan Laustsen
Format: ArriRaw 4.5 K
Camera: Alexa 65 Alexa LF Mini
Lens: Signature Prime Linses
Laustsen: We wanted a very picturesque and moving camera, with deep shadows and single direct light sources, using the contrast and colors of the light with camera movements and wide angle lenses. To do this, I chose Alexa 65 as I think this camera has a good color balance. Its large sensor gives it a very small depth of field. Together with the Signature Prime Lenses we got this intense expression we wanted. However, the Alexa 65 and the Signature Prime Lenses give a very beautiful but sharp image, too sharp for this 1940 period film. We tried to put nylon stockings on the back of the lens like we did in the past but it didn’t work. We ended up using a BPM (Black Pro Mist) 1/4 and 1/8 filter which was put on the back of the lens, inside the camera. The advantage of having a filter inside the camera is it doesn’t affect the black level, but gives a highlight and gives faces a beautiful glow.
Cinematographer Linus Sandgren the set of “No Time yo Die”. MGM
“No Time to Die”
Dir: Cary Joji Fukunaga, DoP: Linus Sandgren
Format: 35mm anamorphic 4-perf; IMAX 70mm 15-perf; 65mm 5-perf
Camera: Panavision XL2; IMAX MSM; IMAX MKIV; Panavision System 65; Arri 765; Arri 435; Arri 235
Lens: Panavision G-series anamorphic; IMAX Hasselblad
Sandgren: First of all, I like to have the look of the film already in the dailies. I like to use celluloid for two reasons 1. Because it expands my toolbox, where the look changes with the size of negative, the type of stock and processing and 2. Each frame is unique. Being analog appeals to me emotionally, because celluloid helps bring out the most subtle shades of color and enriches all colors but especially the skintones, which all works towards a great color depth and contrast. Often times I use the organic abilities within the celluloid, which just expands my palette to work with. What is interesting with celluloid is also that we can predict exactly how it will look, yet you will always be surprised how it actually looks. When being processed, the film itself has enhanced and made it a little more beautiful than we can imagine.
In “No Time to Die,” the main part of the film is shot in anamorphic 35mm, which we felt was the most epic of the 35mm formats and absolutely appropriate for action, thriller and adventure. It’s also the format that helps bring out the most details, at the same time, has a beautiful bokeh which helps with the heightened reality and romantic moments. The reason for IMAX was to maximize the experience for the audience. The width of the film is full field of view in the theater and as we cut to IMAX 1.43:1 sequences, the image opens up below your feet and above your eyebrows and engulfs the audience in the film.
Cinematographer Edu Grau on the set of “Passing”. Emily V. Aragones/Netflix
Dir: Rebecca Hall, DoP: Edu Grau
Format: ArriRaw 1,7K. (2.8k Anamorphic at 4:3 Aspect Ratio)
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Lomo Anamorphic Round Front
Grau: On a film about race and identity, shooting B&W was embedded as one of the main concepts of the movie. Every light and shadow (and every grey in between) was telling the story of our characters, was defining them. We also wanted every visual choice to enhance the story and for the look to be different than anything we had seen. After a lot of testing and searching for the right lenses, we felt in love with the Russian Lomo Anamorphic, because of their painterly quality, the overall dramatic softness and the poetic bokeh and dreamy highlights. They fulfill the world that we wanted to create. The boxy 4:3 aspect ratio helped represent the beehive that the characters were living in and made the characters the center, as the world outside is not as important as the way they see themselves.
Shooting anamorphic with 4:3 aspect ratio meant that we’d loose a lot of sensor, finishing on 1.7k of resolution (which is unheard of in a world obsessed with 4k and beyond) but after seeing it in the big screen we realize that it was really great for the movie and made it even more unique and bold. “Passing” was a contemporary film “passing” as 1920’s. All the elements combined told the story in the way we dreamed of, helping the characters and honoring Nella Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance novella and Rebecca Hall’s contemporary vision.
Cinematographer Pat Scola and Nicholas Cage on the set of “Pig”. Courtesy of filmmaker
Dir: Michael Sarnoski, DoP: Pat Scola
Format: 2.8K Prores 4444
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision B / D series anamorphic.
Scola: The first step in developing the look for “Pig” was understanding tone of the film itself. There was something unique and beautiful in Michael’s writing, it was always on the page, but it was difficult to articulate. To me, the film is sort of like a carnival goldfish in one of those cheap plastic bowls. To the fish, it’s everything. Fear, danger, safety, loneliness, curiosity, death etc. A whole universe. To the human sat at the counter looking in, a tiny pot of water. This is how I rationalized “Pig” in my mind. Inside the film, the stakes, the choices, the emotion, everything is heightened. The look and feel of the film needed to make our audience feel every moment inside of the fishbowl, even if from the outside, it’s seemingly safe.
With that in mind, I wanted to help bring a gravity to look of the film, while maintaining a certain level of playfulness without losing any of the humanity between these characters. Like the depth of a novel somehow dropped inside a kids storybook. Coincidently, I had bought a few children’s books earlier that year because the art was interesting. When I opened them back up with “Pig” in mind, it started to take a real shape. I was chasing something that made reality seem far below us but grounded enough to believe every second of this film is happening somewhere.
Frontal element anamorphics have this ability to create a sort of false reality for me. When the lens goes up, the world takes shape differently, which really suited my “storybook/novel “ thinking. So Mike Carter and Panavision Woodland Hills really helped me put FCC together a small collection of B and D series anamorphic mixed with a few spherical Panavision super / ultra speeds. I used diopters for large portions of the film to try and bring more intimate characteristics to the lenses. Particularly when we were chasing more vulnerable, human moments.
On the set of “The Power of the Dog”. Kirsty Griffin/Netflix
“The Power of the Dog”
Dir: Jane Campion, DoP: Ari Wegner
Camera: Alexa LF
Lens: Panavision Ultra Panatar 1.3x Anamorphic
Wegner: When I’m shooting digital, the Alexa sensor is my go-to, it’s such a reliable work horse – a very beautiful work horse. Going into such an ambitious project with extreme weather exteriors and low light interiors, I knew I needed a sensor whose technical limitations I was very familiar with, so I could push it right to the edge of its capabilities without going beyond. When paired with older lenses, a modern sensor I think is particularly beautiful. We chose the Ultra Panatars. Not only do they allow for beautiful landscapes in widescreen but also gorgeous rendition of faces, which precisely describes the two of the things that excite Jane and I the most: complex people in vast landscapes.
Cinematographer Drew Daniels on the set of “Red Rocket”. Adam Lichtenberger
Dir: Sean Baker, DoP: Drew Daniels
Format: Super 16
Camera: Arri SR-3
Lens: Panavision Auto Panatar 1.44x anamorphic lenses for super 16mm; Zeiss Super Speeds; Canon 11.5-138 zoom; Iscorama-54 1.3x front anamorphic adapter
Daniels: Sean and I wanted to shoot on super 16 anamorphic because we both felt it was the absolute only way to make this film. It added an elegance and sophistication that helped offset the grittiness of the story and the locations. We were after a more classic 70s look with zooms, comedic whip pans, invisible dolly shots and elegant one’rs. We shot with Panavision super 16 lenses that were specially designed with a 1.44x squeeze factor to get 2.40 right out of the camera. There are only 2 sets in the world, and only 2 lenses in each set. Shooting the film this way, in addition to using spherical zooms and an Iscorama-54 anamorphic adapter in front of Zeiss Super Speeds really restricted our palette and forced our hands in certain creative choices that really make the film visually unique. I think super 16 anamorphic is an amazing way to retain all the texture and magic of film while adding the classic Hollywood feel that anamorphic delivers.
Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau on the set of “Respect”. Quantrell D. Colbert/MGM
Dir: Liesl Tommy, DoP: Kramer Morgenthau
Format: 4.5k ArriRaw; 16mm Color and B&W
Camera: Arri Alexa
Lens: Panavision T Series Expanded
Morgenthau: I went with Anamorphics and the Alexa Mini LF because I felt it was a tool I could meld into the 3 distinct looks I was going for in “Respect,” all representing three major phases of Aretha’s rise. 1. The 50s: A child singing Gospel in her father’s Church, growing up around Gospel, R&B, Jazz, and the elite of black culture visiting her fathers home. 2. The 60s: Finding her voice and becoming an R&B mega star and leaving her fathers control in the Gospel world. 3. The 70s: Hitting rock bottom and finding solace in the Gospel Album and film “Amazing Grace.”
16mm film recreated some of meta documentary moments, sort of a film within the film. The combination of the otherworldliness of the Anamorphic glass and the multiple looks and added “Live Grain” which created an elegant but truthful visual landscape to tell Aretha’s story. The visuals evolved as Aretha’s world evolved as staged by the director Liesl Tommy.
Cinematographer Claire Mathon on the set of “Spencer”. Courtesy of filmmaker
Dir:Pablo Larraín, DoP: Claire Mathon
Format: 16mm Film and 35mm Film
Camera: Arri 416; ArriCam LT
Lens: Leitz Summilux; Zeiss Utra 16
Mathon: The choice of celluloid film formats with low contrast and no saturated colors helped to give the fable side of the visual storytelling in “Spencer” a slightly haunted feeling. Pablo and I wanted a certain timelessness to be apparent with the film and for audiences to be unable to pinpoint exactly when this takes place. The choice of S16mm adds a smoothness to the image that, to my taste, contributes to the overall beauty and mystery of Diana’s character. The subtle and rich rendering of colors (the greens, the reds) is an important aspect of Diana’s world. The depth of S16mm increases the work on details and the use of short focal length lenses add to the feeling of isolation and imprisonment that we working to evoke throughout the film. We made the choice of celluloid film for aesthetic reasons but also for the lightness and the ergonomics of the S16mm equipment. The camera is constantly in motion, frequently gliding behind and circling around Diana. The work on the rhythm of the shots, the use of very short focal length lenses and close-up proximity to Kristen, are part of the mise-en-scene that Pablo envisioned to create tension and emotional intimacy with Diana.
Cinematographer David Raedeker on the set of “The Souvenir Part II”. Agatha A. Nitecka
“The Souvenir Part II”
Dir: Joanna Hogg, DoP: David Raedeker
Format: 16mm film; 16mm digital; 35mm; 35mm anamorphic
Camera: Arri 416; Moviecam; Sony Venice
Lens: Zeiss High Speed; Canon Zooms
Raedeker: “Souvenir II” is the story about a young film student finding herself in the shadow of a destructive relationship. As in “Souvenir I,” different shooting formats reflect on her personal journey and creative liberation, as well as the feel of the setting in the 80’s. However, we wanted to keep the period look subliminal and made sure that it was subtle enough not to draw too much attention and divert from the characters. Changing formats and our different shooting styles felt like a dance with the content itself and in the final scene they both merge into one.
We shot most of it on 16mm film with inserts of student films and a musical number on 35mm color and 35mm anamorphic black and white film. We also filmed some passages on 16mm digital and 35mm digital, as well as interviews on Betacam and High 8. This created a colorful collage of the time and our heroine’s character.
Because Joanna shoots chronologically, and without script or rehearsal, we sometimes employed two cameras to get more coverage for the edit. Many takes lasted as long as the freely improvised scenes were running and to keep performances fresh we did no repeats. Joanna’s way of working was sometimes nerve wrecking, but on the other hand the lack of control taught me to trust the moment, become more observant and look closer, what’s playing out in front of the camera. It’s something I learned to cherish.
On the set of “The Tender Bar”. Claire Folger/Amazon Content Services LLC
“The Tender Bar”
Dir: George Clooney, DoP: Martin Ruhe
Format: 2.8K ArriRaw
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Angenieux Optimo Compact Zooms; Cooke S4 lenses
Ruhe: We wanted to pay homage to ’70s filmmaking and used quite a lot of in picture zooms, sometimes to underline funny moments sometimes for drama. Our goal was to take you back to that time period. We also worked to make our film look like photographs from that time – a little bit in the vain of Ektachrome or Kodachrome photographs.
On the set of “tick, tick… BOOM!”. Macall Polay/Netflix
“tick, tick… BOOM!”
Dir: Lin-Manuel Miranda, DoP: Alice Brooks
Format: Redcode R3D 5:1 – 7k 6:5 – 2x Anamorphic
Camera: Panavision DXL 2 Sony Betacam with a Canon Macro TV Zoom Lens; Canon Super 8 with fixed zoom lens
Lens: Panavision Anamorphic G-Series Detuned
Brooks: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the director, and I wanted the New York City of 1990 to look and feel like each of us remembered it back then. We were both ten in 1990 when “tick, tick…BOOM!” begins. Our memory is from the view of a child where color and light and emotions are all heightened. The main character, Jonathan Larson, is childlike in many ways. We created our visual language from this childlike perspective where the lines between dreams and reality are blurred.
Lin and I were inspired by New York street photography. Panavision has always been a wonderful collaborator for me to find the right tools to tell a story. The special “lens recipe” we created combined with the large format camera allowed for an interesting mixture of techniques to create the feeling of aged, textured photography.
We wanted the viewer to get into Jonathan’s head, including his internal contradictions, as he both struggles, and is inspired, to write his musical. We played with tight, claustrophobic, handheld shots with minimal depth of field to express Jonathan’s overwhelming stress and pressure. But then we went to wide expansive shots to show Jonathan’s dreams and moments of inspiration, such as in the musical numbers “Swimming” and “Sunday.”
We were also inspired by 8 years of Betacam footage of Jonathan we found from the late 80s until his death. Instead of trying to recreate this look with modern technology, we filmed some shots with a real Betacam from the era. We tested many options and selected an old Betacam that the props department had. The first and last scenes of the film were shot this way, creating a nostalgic 1990s home video feel.
“Titane”. Carole Bethuel
Dir: Julia Ducournau, DoP: Ruben Impens
Format: 4.4k pro res / cropped 2:39
Camera: Arri Mini LF
Lens: Zeiss Supreme P
Impens: We wanted something, sharp and harsh and in your face. Little or no distortion – not romantic and soft – so modern lenses and a large format sensor helped to achieve this.
On the set of “The Tragedy of Macbeth”. Courtesy of filmmaker
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Dir: Joel Coen, DoP: Bruno Delbonnel
Format: 4K ArriRaw
Camera: Arri Alexa LF
Lens: Cooke S7s
Delbonnel: I was looking for a modern black and white “look”. The resolution and sharpness of the Alexa LF was exactly what I was looking for. Very crisp. And the Cooke S7 were giving me a roundness in the fall off which was perfect for the way I lit the all movie. A combination of very hard shadows and soft light in the background.
A movie is one interpretation of a story. A different director and a different cinematographer would have a different interpretation of the same script and it would be a different movie. Would it be better? Nobody knows. Would “The Tragedy of Macbeth” be better in color instead of black and white? I don’t know. We just thought that Academy aspect ratio and black and white were a good way to support our first idea, which was: not fighting Shakespeare’s language, be as “abstract” as possible, and finally create a rhythm with light and shadows.
“The Worst Person in the World” cinematographer Kasper Tuxen. Christian Belgaux
“The Worst Person in the World”
Dir: Joachim Trier, DoP: Kasper Tuxen
Camera: ArriCam LT
Lens: Cooke 5/i
Tuxen: Joachim and I believe that film is the best way to show human skin tones. Also, we love the whole process and discipline of the medium. We chose the Cooke 5/i lenses because I needed speed and we felt they added a slight softness without being nostalgic.