Cinematographers put focus on prep time

Cinematographers Roger Deakins and Stephen Goldblatt have a lot in common.

Both shot critically acclaimed period films, released this year, that are set in the mid- to late-20th century (“A Serious Man” and “Julie and Julia,” respectively).

Both were born in the 1940s and spent their formative years in England. Both worked on documentaries before starting their feature careers. Each is a member of both the American and the British Society of Cinematographers.

Goldblatt has gotten two Oscar noms and two more from the ASC. Deakins has received a whopping eight noms for Oscars and nine more for the ASC trophy (winning two of the latter). Goldblatt won the Hollywood Film Festival’s cinematographer award in 2007; Deakins will pick up the same honor Monday.

They work in similar ways as well, from pre-production through post. Goldblatt prepped extensively with “Julia” helmer Nora Ephron. “I love prep,” he says. “What you decide saves so much time later on, and spares you from re-shooting.”

“The prep period is especially important,” agrees Deakins. “(‘Serious Man’ co-directors Joel and Ethan Coen) and I really enjoy it. By the time we’re on the set, we’re discussing not what we’re doing that day but rather something we’re doing later that may be a problem.”

Both cinematographers shoot mostly on 35mm film and prefer to do post electronically. “On a film like ‘Serious Man,’ without a huge budget, you’re on a tight schedule and shoot when you have to, even if the light isn’t exactly what you want,” Deakins says. “If you do a digital intermediate (DI) you can change the lighting, the saturation and the contrast.”

On “Serious Man,” work in the DI suite allowed Deakins to seamlessly match scenes shot alternately on bright and cloudy days. “You can do a lot without spending the money to go to an effects house,” he says.

“In ‘Julie and Julia,’ the DI process let us add sunshine to the dull weather we had in Paris,” Goldblatt says. “It helped us accentuate differences between the refined color palettes of Parisian pastels and the more contrasty look of Queens.”

Goldblatt’s next project is Chris Columbus’ “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” which he’s already shot. DI work starts next month near Columbus’ home in San Francisco, at a remote suite set up by Hollywood post house eFilm.

Deakins is scouting New Mexico locations for another film with the Coens, “True Grit.” It will be his 11th with the duo.

Signings & Bookings

GSK and Associates bookings: Cinematographer David Tattersall on Rob Letterman’s “Gulliver’s Travels”; sound mixers Mark Ulano on Paul Haggis’ “The Next Three Days” and Steve Nelson on Alex Zamm’s “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2″; editors Niven Howie on Columbia’s “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” Michael Ornstein on Mikael Salomon’s “Clark Rockefeller,” Scott Vickrey on CBS’ “The Good Wife,” Glenn Farr on “The Mentalist,” Robert Florio on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” Shannon Mitchell on Showtime’s “United States of Tara” and Elena Maganini on Fox’s “Dollhouse”; production designer Warren Alan Young on Lifetime’s “Pregnancy Pact”; costume designer Rhona Meyers on NBC’s “100 Questions”; and costume designer Antoinette Messam and editor Patrick Don Vito on Dermot Mulroney’s “First Love, Then Marriage.”

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Murtha Agency has booked second unit director/d.p. Alexander Witt on Ben Affleck’s “The Town”; art director Guy Barnes on Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In”; production designers Merideth Boswell on Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Sunset Limited,” Mark Friedberg on Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver,” Bob Shaw on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and Dennis Washington on Roger Donaldson’s “Hungry Rabbit Jumps”; and editor Peter Honess on Chris Columbus’ “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”

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Signed by Creative Entertainment Connections: script supervisor Stacy Rowe, first a.d. Jon Campbell and costume designer Mirena Rada. CEC bookings: Steadicam operator Ari Robbins on Darren Lynn Bousman’s “Mother’s Day”; costume designer Eden Miller on Starz’s “Failure to Fly”; d.p. Matthew MacCarthy on Jason Venture’s “Zellwood”; first A.D. Joe Suarez on Tony Krantz’s “The Big Bang”; and makeup artists Craig Lyman on Adam McKay’s “The Other Guys” and Linda Grimes on Fox’s “White Collar.”

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Innovative Artists has signed d.p. John Newby, editor Ben Chulay, and production designers Rachel Kamerman and Corey Kaplan. Agency also has booked the following cinematographers: James Carter on Peter Odiorne’s “Destination Home,” Eric Edwards on Dustin Lance Black’s “What’s Wrong With Virginia,” Dejan Georgevichon NBC’s “Mercy,” Denny Hall on ABC’s “Eastwick,” Sid Sidell on Fox’s “Lie to Me,” Stephen McNutt on Syfy’s “Caprica” and Alex Nepomniaschy on HBO’s “Big Love.”

IA production designer bookings: Graham Walker on Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Unknown White Male,” Richard Berg on ABC’s “Modern Family,” Ray Kluga on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” Doug Kraner on Disney-ABC’s “The Forgotten,” Stuart Blatt on NBC’s “Trauma” and Cece De Stefano on the CW’s “Melrose Place.”

Editors booked by IA: Jake Pushinsky on Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl,” Annette Davey on HBO’s “How to Make It in America,” John Valerio on Fox’s “Sons of Tucson,” Sue Blainey on ABC’s “Happy Town,” David Cook on CBS’ “The Good Wife” and Lauren Schaffer on “Three Rivers.”

IA costume designers at work: Ruth Carter on Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” Christopher Lawrence on Simon West’s “The Mechanic,” Sandra Hernandez on Erik White’s “The Lottery Ticket,” Luke Reichle on ABC’s “The Forgotten,” Frank Helmer on the CW’s “90210,” Rachel Sage Kunin on CBS’ “Three Rivers,” Marissa Borsetto on ABC’s “Modern Family” and Victoria Auth on Fox’s “Lie to Me.”

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Editors booked by Paradigm: Anthony Redman on the CW’s “Life Unexpected,” Anne McCabe on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” Harvey Rosenstock on Erik White’s “The Lottery Ticket,” Robert Dalva on Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter of Mars,” Robert Brakey on Roger Kumble’s “Furry Vengeance,” Jeffrey Ford on Scott Cooper’s “Crazy Heart,” Jeff Wolf on Brad Anderson’s “Vanishing on 7th Street” and Steve Mirkovich on Adam McKay’s “The Other Guys.”

Go to Variety.com/tech for additional signings and bookings.

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