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DP Stefan Ciupek on Guns Akimbo, the challenges of Russian Ark, working with Anthony Dod Mantle on Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours

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The Cinematography Podcast Episode 68: Stefan Ciupek

Stefan Ciupek became interested in film while growing up in East Germany, but his options were limited in what was then a Communist country. His family managed to escape to Poland, and movies became a refuge from difficult times. In fact, Stefan and his mother were able to pirate Western films and re-sell them as bootlegs. His family managed to move to West Berlin, and by the age of 16, Stefan had a videocamera and started studying film in Germany. Stefan became one of the first adopters of digital camera technology, and became an early digital imaging technician (DIT) and colorist. He helped pull off an amazing achievement with 2003’s Russian Ark, a 90 minute film shot entirely in one take, in one location. After his accomplishments on Russian Ark, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle found him and the two worked on several projects, including 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire, which became the first digital film to win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and Best Picture. As digital technology became more technical, Stefan decided he wanted to be more involved in the creative process and returned to cinematography. He shot director Lulu Wang’s first film, Posthumous, as well as several episodes of the upcoming season of The Spanish Princess on Starz.

For Guns Akimbo, Stefan read the script and immediately knew how he would shoot it. Everything in the action movie is highly exaggerated and over-the-top. Stefan used the Red Monstro camera, a variety of different lenses and high key lighting to highlight some of the humor.

You can see Guns Akimbo streaming on Vudu and Amazon.

Find Stefan Ciupek

Episode Sponsors:

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Aputure also makes monitors such as the VS II FineHD 7” Field Monitor. You can buy Aputure products at Hot Rod Cameras.

Special thanks to Jeff Wilkins of Heavy Hardware, who is building a workstation for Hot Rod Cameras’ screening room.

Close Focus: Quite a few of the studios are releasing movies to streaming very early due to the pandemic. It will be interesting to see how this might change the length of time between streaming and theatrical releases in the future.

Ben’s short end: Zoom.us, the online teleconferencing software. Using Zoom during this time has been a great resource, and Ben and his writing partner were able to do a table read of their script and record the entire thing. Technology such as this has been great and may even stick around after the pandemic.

Illya’s short end: Go check out a drive-in movie theater, if you are near one of the 327 still open in the U.S.! The drive-in is now a great place to see movies within your own safety bubble. The Blue Starlite Drivein in Austin Texas was showing the short films that were not seen once SXSW was canceled.

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Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman
@hotrodcameras instagram
@illyafriedman instagram

Ben Rock:  @neptunesalad twitter
@bejamin_rock instagram

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben Katz
Composer: Kays Alatractchi

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