Steelberg tries to disappear a little

'Up in the Air's' d.p. wants his work to complement

For Eric Steelberg, coaxing the audience to identify with characters in the indie sensation “Juno” or the adult drama “Up in the Air” means disappearing a little.

“You don’t want to overwhelm people watching these movies with crazy camera moves,” says Steelberg, “so we don’t do things like move cameras through walls or anything that takes away from the feeling that you’re right there with George Clooney in a hotel room watching his life with him.”

One of the movies that Steelberg saw growing up that caused him to concentrate on a film’s visuals was “The Black Stallion,” shot by Caleb Deschanel. “Working with his daughter Zooey (on “500 Days of Summer”) was really intimidating because I thought that if I didn’t shoot her the right way I’d hear about it from him. Luckily he saw the film and I heard back that he thought it looked great.”

Steelberg’s give and take with “Up in the Air” director Jason Reitman has evolved into minimum communication resulting in maximum results.

“We have a shorthand so we don’t really talk about things a lot,” says Steelberg of their working relationship. “I’ve known him since we were kids in the San Fernando Valley, so we can disagree with each other and it’s a healthy creative thing.”

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