Eye on the Oscars: The Cinematographer

Masanobu Takayanagi has made a career out of visually capturing raw emotion.

He photographed Nick Nolte’s Oscar-nominated turn in helmer Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior,” and served as director of photography on Joe Carnahan’s “The Grey.”

For his latest project, “Silver Linings Playbook,” helmer David O.Russell presented the lenser with the challenge of honestly portraying an institutionalized, bi-polar soon-to-be ex-husband (Bradley Cooper) and a bitter, promiscuous widow (Jennifer Lawrence).

“What (David and I) discussed most was how we would give the actors freedom to move around wherever they wanted,” Takayanagi says. “We knew that the performances would be strong, so we tried to film without imposing anything on them.”

Although the cast had 360 degrees of freedom on set, Takayanagi’s Arricam LT made its presence known.

Throughout the film Takayanagi highlights the inner turmoil of each character by rushing actors, circling around them and capturing their movements head-on via a Steadicam or a handheld camera.

“The (camera) movements really came from David’s instinct,” Takayanagi says. “We didn’t need any strange angles etc. We really focused on getting the performance.”

Takayanagi considers the logistics of lighting a 360-degree set as one of his biggest challenges during the six-week shoot. “We lit our locations through windows most of the time,” he explains. “We also replaced most of the street lamps with our own (lights) so we could shoot at night as well.”

While Takayanagi used Kodak 5219 and 5213 to shoot the majority of “Linings,” he decided to force-process the film stock for the movie’s one flashback sequence that invades the present-day consciousness of the protagonist Pat (Cooper).

Takayanagi explains that by increasing the effective speed and contrast of the negative, he created a greater shift in color and grain: “I just felt it would be appropriate for (Cooper’s) emotion at that moment.”

Eye on the Oscars: The Cinematographer
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