June 24, 2020

Xavier Grobet, ASC on HBO’s Watchmen, going to film school with Mexican filmmakers Rodrigo Prieto and Alfonso Cuarón, early experience on films Total Recall, Revenge, Before Night Falls

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 80: Xavier Grobet

Mexican-born DP Xavier Grobet grew up surrounded by visual images. His mother was a professional photographer, and from an early age, Xavier made his own Super 8 movies every summer with his cousins and family members. He started out going to architecture school, but soon decided his passion was film. Xavier’s generation of fellow Mexican filmmakers, “Chivo” Emmanuel Lubezki, Rodrigo Prieto, and Alfonso Cuarón were also attending film school at one of the two main colleges in Mexico City. One of Xavier’s early experiences was operating the third camera on a French film, Les Pyramides Bleues, with Alfonso Cuarón as the assistant director. Many American productions were shooting in Mexico at the time, so Xavier was able to work on huge movies like Tony Scott’s Revenge and Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once he moved to America, it took awhile to get established again, but he got a big break shooting the Julian Schnabel film Before Night Falls and the series Deadwood. Xavier Grobet’s most recent work has been on HBO’s phenomenal series Watchmen, on episodes three, five, and seven. Going into the world of Watchmen proved to be a huge challenge, because each episode works as its own separate piece, but required a familiarity with the script for the entire series to ensure the consistency and look of the story. He always found ways to shoot from different angles, and used blue lighting selectively to suggest and reveal Dr. Manhattan. It was daunting working within the framework of the show’s look and following its guidelines, but Xavier embraced it and made it his.

See Watchmen on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/watchmen

Find Xavier Grobet: http://xmexdp.com/ Instagram: @xmexdp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: http://camnoir.com/ep80/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

May 18, 2020

BONUS Episode: Oscar-nominated cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao on the movie Shadow and working with director Zhang Yimou on eleven films, including House of Flying Daggers

The Cinematography Podcast Bonus Episode: Xiaoding Zhao

Illya sat down with cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao and Shadow producer and translator Ellen Eliasoph at Cameraimage 2019 to discuss the film Shadow. Director Zhang Yimou and Zhao worked together to create a very distinctive color palette, wanting it to appear to be like a Chinese ink brush painting. The costumes are also all in gray or black for the same ink washed look. It also enabled the color of red blood to show bold and bright against the duller background. For Shadow, Zhang Yimou chose to make most of the action design in constant rain, which proved a huge challenge for Zhao. Getting the proper lighting was difficult, because he wanted to use a softer light on the actor’s faces, but illuminating the hard contrast on a wet and dark exterior was also important. Zhao actually started off life as a professional speed skater, but got injured and couldn’t continue, so he began taking photos and videos of his speed skating team. He found he really enjoyed the work and was admitted to the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. Zhao and Zhang Yimou have made 11 movies together, including the acclaimed House of Flying Daggers, for which Zhao received an Oscar Nomination in 2004.

You can stream Shadow right now on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGetemRDuVY

Find Xiaoding Zhao: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1618536/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr31

Special thanks to Shadow producer and translator Ellen Eliasoph

Zhao was featured in the May issue of American Cinematographer: https://ascmag.com/articles/asc-close-up-zhao-xiaoding

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: http://camnoir.com/bonusshadow/

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

May 13, 2020

Toby Oliver, ACS talks Dead To Me Season 2, working with Jordan Peele on Get Out, horror films The Darkness and Happy Death Day, Mötley Crüe movie The Dirt, and the upcoming Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 74: Toby Oliver

Toby Oliver was an experienced cinematographer in his native Australia for a few decades before moving to the U.S. and establishing himself as a DP. He worked with fellow Aussie director Greg McLean on Wolf Creek 2 and other horror genre movies for Blumhouse Productions such as The Darkness. When shooting any genre or time period, Toby believes color palette is important and enjoys working with production designers to fine-tune the look. This was especially true for the Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt, which takes place across the 1980’s. Consistency and continuity of visuals have also played a big part in Toby’s films, such as Happy Death Day and the sequel, Happy Death Day 2 U. Both films rely on the “Groundhog Day Trope”- as in, the main character must repeat the same day over and over again, so keeping continuity in sets, camera setups and lighting was important. Toby met director Jordan Peele through his connections at Blumhouse. Jordan Peele, as a first time director, needed an experienced DP and hired him for Get Out. They collaborated closely and created the look of “The Sunken Place” in the movie. For Season Two of Netflix’s Dead to Me, Toby tried to keep the look of the show consistent with the first season, just tweaking lighting and camera angles to be more flattering to the actors. It took a little bit of adjustment getting used to shooting series television, but Toby also got to rely on his horror background for some of the creepier scenes.

Dead to Me Season Two is currently streaming on Netflix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmU7ylnmn_M

Find Toby Oliver: https://tobyoliver.com/
Instagram @tobyoliverdp
Twitter @tobyoliver67

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: http://camnoir.com/ep74/

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

March 18, 2020

DP Kira Kelly on working with director Ava DuVernay, her Netflix series Self Made, 13th, Queen Sugar, East Los High

Cinematographer Kira Kelly had years of experience before director Ava DuVernay approached her to shoot her documentary, 13th. For 13th, DuVernay was interested in creating artful, composed shots rather than the typical “talking heads” of most documentaries, and pushed Kira and the team to get creative about how it was framed. The film examines the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, yet the mass incarceration of African-Americans continues to this day as its own kind of slavery. 13th was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2017. Kira collaborated with DuVernay again on the second season of the critically-acclaimed series, Queen Sugar. When she was first starting out, Kira worked as a gaffer before moving into the camera department and establishing herself as a cinematographer, shooting a small independent film called Were the World Mine. Producer/director Carlos Portugal noticed her work and hired her to shoot four seasons of Hulu’s Emmy-nominated series, East Los High.

Kira Kelly’s latest show is a limited series for Netflix called Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer. The series is based on the real-life story of an African American washerwoman who builds a hair product empire to become the first female self-made millionaire. Self-Made is on Netflix beginning March 20. https://www.netflix.com/title/80202462

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: http://camnoir.com/ep67/

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Brought to you by Hot Rod Cameras: Find your next camera, lens, light or accessory at https://hotrodcameras.com/

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January 7, 2020

DP Paula Huidobro on Barry, Tallulah, working with Bill Hader, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Norman Lear

Paula Huidoboro first became drawn to telling a story with images as a young teen while taking photography classes at the local museum of modern art. One of her early learning experiences was as a camera intern for well-known cinematographer “Chivo” Emmanuel Lubezki. Paula was thrilled to work with actor/creator Bill Hader on finding the balance between violence and comedy on the HBO hitman/dark comedy “Barry.”

December 30, 2019

Walt Lloyd, ASC on Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Kafka, Short Cuts, The Hitcher, The Perfect Storm, Pump Up the Volume, Empire Records, Alien Raiders, and much more

Walt Lloyd happened upon John Boorman’s crew shooting Deliverance in Georgia and decided he wanted a job in the movie business. His first big break was as a camera assistant on the 1983 film Never Cry Wolf, directed by Carroll Ballard. One of Walt’s earliest films as director of photography was on sex, lies and videotape for first-time feature filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. Host Ben Rock and Walt Lloyd also have a personal connection- Walt was the DP for Ben’s feature film, Alien Raiders.

December 24, 2019

Alik Sakharov, DP turned director, on Game of Thrones, House of Cards, The Sopranos, Ozark, and the director/DP relationship

Alik Sakharov shot many feature films and television series such as The Sopranos, Rome, and Game of Thrones before moving into the director’s chair. Alik feels cinematography, directing and writing must work together to create a story, and it’s difficult to separate one from the other. He is currently executive producer of the Netflix series The Witcher.

September 2, 2019

Director and Cinematographer Ellen Kuras, ASC: Talks Swoon, I Shot Andy Warhol, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Summer of Sam, Ozark, Wormwood, Catch-22 and more

Ellen Kuras believes that following your gut and listening to your inner voice makes you a great filmmaker. Ellen got her start shooting documentary and indy movies such as “Swoon,” “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “Personal Velocity,” plus several films with Spike Lee including “Bamboozled” and “Summer of Sam.” She discusses working with Michel Gondry, the unique challenges of shooting “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” working with documentarian Errol Morris on “Wormwood” and shooting the Netflix series “Ozark.” Ellen also directed and shot her documentary “The Betrayal-Nerakhoon,” which received an Academy Award nomination. Her current work includes directing some episodes of Hulu’s “Catch-22” and directing the Netflix series “Umbrella Academy.”

August 4, 2019

Ep 41 – Vanja černjul, ASC – Talks Crazy Rich Asians, The Deuce, 30 Rock, Orange is the New Black, and more!

Vanja Černjul began his career in the U.S. filming small independent films like “Wrist Cutters, A Love Story” before breaking into television, shooting the pilot for “Ugly Betty” then going on to DP the first season of “30 Rock.” He developed the realistic, naturalistic lighting looks for “Nurse Jackie” and “Orange is the New Black,” and created the grainy, gritty 70’s look for HBO’s “The Deuce.” Vanja’s biggest project to date is “Crazy Rich Asians,” which has become the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the last 10 years. He talks about its success, working with director Jon M. Chu and finding a gorgeous, unconventional look for a romantic comedy.

July 13, 2019

Ep 39 – Manuel Billeter – Talks the Marvel/Netflix series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Orange is the New Black and working with Alfonso Cuarón

Manuel Billeter discusses his early career and getting his big break working in post production editing “Y Tu Mama También” for director Alfonso Cuarón, who encouraged him to pursue a path in cinematography. He talks about the high profile series he’s worked on, such as “Law and Order,” and “Person of Interest,” how a show getting canceled or getting fired can lead to better opportunities, working in urban settings with night exteriors and the incredible energy it can generate. When creating the unique noir feel for “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage,” Manuel loved the look of sodium vapor streetlights, but most of New York has converted to LED lights, so each individual streetlight was gelled to get the yellower look.