The Contenders

Nominees for 16th Annual ASC Awards

Feature Films:

Roger Deakins, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”

Pedigree: Four previous ASC noms, one award; five Oscar noms; three BAFTA noms

Aesthetic: “This film is black-and-white, with obvious film noir and B-movie references. I found that by using a medium-speed, lower-contrast color stock (Kodak 5277), and printing onto a black-and-white, high-contrast title stock (Kodak 5369), I could get the black-and-white image with silky midtones and the tight grain structure we wanted.”

Bruno Delbonnel, “Amelie”

Pedigree: Nominated for Oscar, BAFTA and Cesar awards, won the European Cinematographers 2001 Award, all for “Amelie”

Aesthetic: “We wanted to get away from realistic light, and I thought about great painters, and how they created the feeling of light. When the sun entered a room, I wanted light to enter from all different directions and hit an object, and make it a new little sun, rather than one main source of light bouncing on different surfaces. This helped me create a different world, which is Amelie’s reality. We wanted light radiating from her.”

Andrew Lesnie, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

Pedigree: Several Australian Cinematography Society awards, one Australian Film Institute award; earned first Oscar nom

Aesthetic: “This shoot was a real labor of love – 15 months of principal photography, pickups and many months of digital timing. I’m especially proud to have worked with chief lighting technician Brian Bansgrove, one of the true legends of the Australian film industry. Brian passed away last December, and I feel this nomination is for him also. He was an extremely close collaborator in designing and prerigging lighting.”

Don McAlpine, “Moulin Rouge”

Pedigree: One Oscar and BAFTA nom; three Australian Film Institute awards

Aesthetic: “Heightened reality was our mantra. Shooting our leading lady in close-up with a 40mm anamorphic wide-angle lens is the most outrageous and successful example of this. Every shot was a studio interior, except one background plate, and the game was to keep as much texture variety as the story would tolerate. ‘Moulin Rouge’ became a celebration of the camera – much of the time, it was in the midst of the action, or it was the action.”

John Schwartzman, “Pearl Harbor”

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: “To stay true to the time period, I avoided many modern lighting instruments, relying instead mainly on arc and tungsten lights. Same thing with lenses – we probably shot this whole film on three lenses. Colorwise, we made an effort to shoot Hawaii as a supersaturated paradise, beautiful and ethereal, before the attack. Then, during the attack, this paradise turns to hell, and we made it a lot blacker, with the color of fire being the only real color.”

Episodic television:

Michael Barrett, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (“Alter Boys”)

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: “Each story is quite different, so our approach from a cinematography standpoint is to treat each episode like a separate entity. As such, there is no one specific color palette or contrast range – some episodes are more colorful, and some darker. In this episode, it was a story about a guy who takes the rap for a double murder committed by his brother, and then kills himself. It was very dark.”

Michael Bonnvillain, “Alias” (“Time Will Tell”)

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: “We shot the episode at the old Castle Green hotel in Pasadena in rooms on the fifth and sixth floors, dressing them to look like Mexico, and then Italy. We brought lights up to those floors on cranes outside the windows, to shoot a sniper’s p.o.v. It was a fine line between letting the window lighting blow out enough so that it evoked those overseas locations, but not so much that it looked like there is tracing paper on them.”

Tom Del Ruth, “The West Wing” (“Bartlet for America”)

Pedigree: Five previous ASC noms, three wins; four Emmy noms, three wins

Aesthetic: “I needed two filmic styles because of flashbacks to a congressional hearing room and a hotel room. The first style dealt with the hearing room, and there I used extremely strong colors for a cold, recessive feel. I also used a lot of top light to mask (actor) John Spencer’s eyes, to make it difficult for the viewer to decide if he was telling the truth. The second style, for the hotel, was more monochromatic, with lots of blue and a combination of orange and violet.”

Billy Dickson, “Ally McBeal” (“The Wedding”)

Pedigree: Two previous ASC noms

Aesthetic: “This was a pretty episode, with a sweet storyline, so we wanted a romantic flavor. I went with warm tones, particularly a mix of gold and blue light and some typical rock-and-roll lighting during the KC and the Sunshine Band number.”

Bill Roe, “The X-Files” (“This Is Not Happening”)

Pedigree: Three previous ASC noms, two wins; two Emmy noms

Aesthetic: “A challenging scene has us in a car on a dirt road when a spaceship comes over the top of the car. We look out and see a valley, all lit up. It was a large area to light – about a mile and a half. We used three B.B. Mobile Production units, which are very powerful, and they threw a ton of light around those hills.”

Cable or pay network movie/pilot/miniseries:

Malcolm Cross, “What Girls Learn” (Showtime)

Pedigree: Four Canadian Society of Cinematographers noms

Aesthetic: “A character dies in the last half of the movie, so we made an effort to avoid pretty colors for that portion, after starting with warm tones. The most complicated thing, though, was a Steadicam shot as we move from the exterior of a farmhouse to a limo pulling up, and then following the characters all the way back into the house, up the stairs and back down again to the outside.”

Steven Fierberg, “Attila” (USA)

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: “The film was shot in Lithuania, with giant battle scenes and sets representing the lands of the Huns and Romans. We had to show a visual difference between the Huns and the more sophisticated Romans. I used redder tones and different, lower angles of light with the Huns. When we shot the Rome scenes, I used more color, especially gold and blue. Also, we used ‘fire lights,’ since the Huns entire world was lit by fire.”

Lowell Peterson, “Just Ask My Children” (Lifetime)

Pedigree: Two previous ASC noms

Aesthetic: “This was a story about two parents wrongly convicted of child abuse. We felt that simple, bold lighting would serve to illuminate these characters in this nightmare. Many scenes were lit with only one or two lights, supplemented with preflashing of the film with the Arri Vari-con. We also used color to contrast the prison scenes with events in the outside world. We injected blue-green into the prison, and golden tones into contrasting scenes, and we used step-printing and camera shutter changes to express the chaos of events.”

Brian Reynolds, “Boss of Bosses” (TNT)

Pedigree: Six previous ASC noms, one Emmy nom

Aesthetic: “We highlighted different aspects of (mob boss) Paul Castellano’s life with different lighting styles – romantic for his love affair, dark for his underworld stuff, and also a period portion showing him as a child during the Depression. The romantic scenes were shot with warmer colors, and the mob underbelly scenes with green fluorescents and harsh, dirty lighting.”

Bruce Worrall, “Prancer Returns” (USA)

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: “We shot the whole movie in 35 days, working extensively in cold weather in Toronto with kids and animals. Collaboration with the director (Joshua Butler), whom I had worked with before, allowed me to shoot for naturalism – not fighting the elements, but instead, exposing them and their proper tones.”

Network movie/pilot/miniseries:

Ernest Holzman, “Citizen Baines” (CBS)

Pedigree: One ASC award

Aesthetic: “The pilot takes place over a 24-hour period, as the lead character is losing his re-election campaign. The director (Chris Schulack) therefore wanted lots of camera movement to emulate the constant frenzy of Election Day. To accommodate that, I designed a lighting concept that permitted us to light the entire environment, no matter how we moved the camera, rather than relighting for each, individual shot.”

Denis Lenois, “Uprising” (NBC)

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: ” ‘Uprising’ had many intense moments. (Director) Jon Avnet had a special interest in tie-ins, i.e., shots where we are on the actors who are delivering a real scene with power and emotion, and at the same time, in the background we see some big crowd scene, like the German army marching or children being deported by the Nazis.”

Peter Levy, “24” (Fox)

Pedigree: First ASC nom

Aesthetic: “The show plays out in real time. Therefore, I shot handheld whenever possible, using long lenses, trying to make it feel more immediate. I limited myself to white light to desaturate things by playing down color, I explored over-exposure in four or five shots, and I avoided backlight. For split-screen elements, I was cognizant of framing issues – making close-ups very dramatic, closer than usual, and making wide shots very graphic.”

Rene Ohashi, “Don Giovanni Unmasked” (PBS)

Pedigree: One previous ASC award, nine Canadian Gemini awards

Aesthetic: “This was a low-budget film, shot Super 16mm on a stage in Toronto. We shot an audience in color, watching a film within the film, shown in black-and-white. Since both portions were shot on the same set in just 12 days, we came up with a prelighting system. We wired the stage with lights rigged to a computerized dimmer board, so that we could switch lighting as we went along for color and black-and-white scenes.”

Peter Wunstorf, “Smallville” (WB)

Pedigree: One previous ASC nom

Aesthetic: “We shot around Vancouver in spring, when it was still rainy, and tried to make it look like Kansas in the summer. I used more lighting on exteriors than I usually do, and lots of coral filters. One problem was the opening meteor shower sequence, seen from Smallville’s main street. We shot that on the first and last days of principal photography, on two different streets in two different towns. The first street, I augmented with liberal HMI lighting, and on the second street, I used wider shots on a sunnier day.”

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