DPs illuminate on their projects this year

Ackroyd kept docu look on 'Locker,' Grau cares for colors in 'Man'

Barry Ackroyd (“The Hurt Locker”)
“From the beginning I had suggested shooting SUPER 16mm, keeping a genuine documentary approach. This allowed us to use up to four cameras on the scenes, giving maximum flexibility and allowing multiple perspectives. This gives the film an intimacy whilst creating a tension between our subjects and their hostile surroundings, giving the editor maximum freedom to manipulate time and space within the story.”

Javier Agguirerobes (“The Road”)
“I barely used any artificial lighting in the exteriors — instead I tried to shape the light I was getting from the sky. In many sequences, even though they were shot during the day, the exposure was controlled to look like dusk. Through the use of color correction filters I tried to get cold and neutral environments.”

Dion Beebe (“Nine”)
“There is a certain responsibility that comes with photographing so many famous and beautiful women — of course, a responsibility to the actors but also the integrity of the story. I was careful not to let photographic technique get in the way of storytelling. I did not receive any pressure from the cast as to how they should be lit or photographed.”

Hagen Bogdanski (“The Young Victoria”)
“We were trying to avoid the traps of conventional period film photography, such as going too artificial, where you often have the feeling that you’re looking at a nice surface. As a cinematographer I cannot change the costume and production design but what I can do in terms of lighting and composing is to try not to fall into these traps of overimposing lighting in too artificial and superficial a way. Of course we had all this gorgeous orange fire candlelight, which you cannot avoid.”

Roger Deakins (“A Serious Man”)
“The biggest technical challenge in the film was the bar mitzvah scene (which is seen from the viewpoint of a stoned 13-year-old boy) – how to get that feeling without going too far. We used swing-tilt lenses, where you can be selective with the focus… I used that in the board scene in ‘The Hudsucker Proxy,’ shooting down a table and keeping all the people in focus. On ‘A Serious Man’ I used them the opposite way to lose focus.”

Sebastian Edschmid (“The Last Station”)
“The theme we have in the movie, that relationship, it is quite modern, so we wanted to find not an old fashioned way to tell that story. We knew that we had a lot of dialog, and we were thinking about how to really give the actors – big names – all the options, give them a lot of freedom. We kept the camera very flexible, did a lot of Steadicam, a lot of handheld. In the Bulgakov chapter we did a lot of handheld with (James McAvoy). We wanted to have speed and freedom.”

Robert Elswit (“Men Who Stare at Goats”)
“All cinema is an illusion and I love creating that. So when you see George (Clooney) and Ewan (McGregor) driving across the Iraqi desert, sweaty and hot, it was actually in New Mexico and literally freezing. It even began to snow at one point and we had to stop and wait for it to melt before we could shoot again.”

Greig Fraser (“Bright Star”)
“Instead of going directly to images, Ben (Whishaw, who plays Keats) and I studied the poetry first. We looked for colors and tones and shapes and light and dark. In doing so, the reading of the poetry, especially the ‘Ode to a Nightingale,’ was referenced and reflected in the visual imagery.”

Stephen Goldblatt (“Julie & Julia”)
“I said to (director) Nora (Ephron) ‘I want to shoot the food in this film. I know how to do it.’ Back in London, when I was struggling to get out of documentaries, I was trying to get into advertising. It was a period when directors like Tony and Ridley Scott, Hugh Hudson and Alan Parker were shooting spots, and the only way I could get into that was to shoot food, which nobody else wanted to do. So for about a year I shot food commercials, I won a prize at the Cannes (advertising) festival, started getting phone calls from all over the world, and moved on.”

Eduard Grau (“A Single Man”)
“I was very impressed with the writing of ‘A Single Man’: the dialog, the characters. I was moved by the very contained and very beautiful love story… From the beginning (director) Tom (Ford) wanted the colors to (match) the characters’ feelings and emotions at each point of the movie… In the DI suite we (changed) the colors to make each moment very noticeable.”

Trent Opaloch (“District 9”)
“It starts out as a corporate video, and then during the alien evictions, you start bouncing around between news cameras and chopper cams and everything like that — it all starts blending together. The reason I see it working is that you’re just being hammered with all of these images. By the time we pull into the third act, you know you’re watching a movie, and yet we still keep cutting back to a dash cam or a surveillance camera, so you’re subconsciously buying what’s happening in front of you.”

Robert Richardson (“Inglourious Basterds”)
“I would not say that this film is specifically a war film. I have been involved in numerous productions where war was central; within ‘Inglourious Basterds’ war sets the stage but the dialogue directs the action – hence capturing the dialogue was paramount – all else followed in its wake. The film can almost be said to avoid categorization as most of Quentin’s work does. No documentary influences invade the frames; this is a purely fictional and, in my opinion, inspirational cinematic experience.”

Dante Spinotti (“Public Enemies”)
(Director) Michael (Mann) has been doing films in HD for the last three or four films, and originally his idea was to have a more classic approach — shoot on film, use more of a traditional film language. But the allure, the attraction of HD was too strong to be pulled aside. When you shoot HD it’s like shooting when you’re screening dailies; you’re seeing what you’re doing, as opposed to sort of guessing. You have in front of you exactly what you’re photographing. This is pretty important.

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