The Cinematography Podcast Episode 77: Bradford Young, PART 1
Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young feels every story has a personal connection to tell and translate through the language of images. As an African American, telling the story of Selma was very important and close to him. He’d heard the story of Dr. Martin Luther King’s march from Selma and the fight for civil rights from his aunt and grandparents as a kid. He sees the essence of his existence coming from those struggles. Growing up, at first Bradford thought he’d go into the family mortuary business. But he always felt drawn to the arts and his father encouraged him to pursue it as a career. He went to Howard University to study journalism and soon switched to film. Bradford attended graduate school with director Dee Rees who hired him to shoot her film Pariah, which went to Sundance and won multiple awards at film festivals. But small independent films with black voices don’t get a lot of mainstream attention, and he was told his reel didn’t have enough “scope” to get bigger jobs. When seeking an agent, Bradford was told his talent for cinematography was seen as a “fluke.” He found he had to be resilient and continue to tell his own story through his work with diverse filmmakers. Ava DuVernay was familiar with his work and hired him to shoot her film Middle of Nowhere and then Selma, about the march from Selma to Montgomery to secure equal voting rights for African Americans in 1965. For Bradford, the cultural resonance of Selma was not the Oscar nomination, but that Ava DuVernay, a black woman director, was seen with respect and shown to be an important and powerful voice in Hollywood.
Listen for Bradford Young Part 2- coming next week. He talks about Arrival, When They See Us, Solo: A Star Wars Story and much more.
You can stream When They See Us right now on Netflix.
You can find Selma streaming on Amazon, Vudu, or iTunes.
Bradford Young was featured in the May 2020 issue of American Cinematographer.
Find Bradford Young
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Close Focus: More about streaming services, such as the launch of HBOMax and the coming launch of NBC’s Peacock. Will there be a way to bundle these and will everyone have their own streaming service?
Ben’s short end: A new streaming service called Tubi which is another streaming service for more obscure movies and television shows. Tubi is available for free on a multitude of platforms and smart TVs such as Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation and the web.
Illya’s short end: Software for select Canon DSLR cameras. Canon has released a free download of the EOS Webcam Utility Beta, which allows you to take your DSLR or mirrorless camera, plug it into your computer and you have a high-quality webcam. Fuji has also created one for Fuji cameras available for free download on their website.
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Editor in Chief: Illya Friedman
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Editor: Ben Katz
Composer: Kays Alatractchi