Barry Ackroyd, ‘United 93’

Awards: Two BAFTA nominations for TV and short film work, and several European festival nominations and awards.

Tools: Arricam LT and 235 cameras and an Aaton Super 16mm Minima camera for shooting in cramped spaces; Fuji Super-F 250D and Super-F 500T film stocks; Zeiss Ultima Prime and Variprime lenses and an Angenieux Optimo zoom lens.

Aesthetic: “We tried to give the piece a docudrama feel,” Ackroyd explains. “The brief was to make the everyday stuff so spectacularly ordinary that the film existed in a believable space. Therefore we tried hard to just turn cameras on and do long takes with two cameras overlapping — bringing one camera in over the shoulder of the first camera (operator), capturing simultaneous, but different, action on the (cramped) airplane set. That meant lighting had to be 360 for a believable effect.”

Visual references: “My background and (director) Paul Greengrass’ background is in documentaries and docudramas, so we tried hard to give it that feel, using information about Flight 93 from the Sept. 11 Commission report as our basic brief. We wanted to do our own thing and not reference too many old disaster movies on airplanes. We deliberately did not watch (other films) about this event. We wanted to go in with open minds and capture what started as an ordinary day and then evolved into all this madness.”

Challenges: “Since we built a set out of a real airplane on a gimbal, throwing people around as it moved, and had actors essentially role-playing the whole thing to illustrate how people must have reacted in that situation, it became a very physically difficult shoot (for the crew), operating 35mm cameras with long zoom lenses in that situation. The physical nature of the work was very challenging for all of us.”

What’s next: Ackroyd recently finished filming Stuart Townsend’s directorial debut, “The Battle in Seattle” (skedded for December), and also shot Ken Loach’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” which debuts in the U.S. in March.

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