Key credits: “The Ref,” “Beautiful Girls,” “Jesus’ Son”
Connection: Kimmel and director Bennett Miller worked together in 2003 on commercials, but they first met when Miller attended a screening of “Jesus’ Son.” “Bennett was a fan of my work from that point forward,” says the d.p.
Equipment: Kimmel used the Panavision Moviecam Compact, a workhorse camera. “It was basically a simple one-camera movie, but my choice was mainly driven by finding something that could take Cooke S4 lenses,” he says. Kimmel shot with a number of film stocks, but most extensively with the relatively new Vision2 Expression 5229, “a very different look from Kodak, with less color and less contrast, that provided a desaturated, softer contrast that I thought would work for a period film.”
Challenge: The shoot took place in Winnipeg, Canada, bringing ample financial incentives, “but it was a major challenge to make a film in 31 days during the latter part of the year with natural light available for only 7½ hours a day,” says Kimmel. Exteriors had to be shot early in the day, before the onset of darkness.
Setback and solution: The plan for an elaborate red-carpet shoot of the premiere of “To Kill a Mockingbird” fell through. “We had picked a train station, which was very expensive, and would have required a lot of rigging for five or six hours of shooting,” he says. “We didn’t want to lose the scene, which showed Truman, at an event that wasn’t about him, with this insatiable need for attention.” After what was already a three-location day of shooting with everyone exhausted, Kimmel asked the producers to give him one more hour. “I shot it on the steps of the hotel where everyone was staying. We were down to the last eight flashbulbs allowed in the budget, and fired three or four for each of two takes and got just what we wanted — in an hour.”
Creative mantra: “I’m finding the balance between intense preparation and preconception and being able to walk in and watch the actors, often finding something that I hadn’t anticipated.”
Upcoming: Kimmel is weighing three possible projects, but so far hasn’t signed on any dotted line. ” ‘Capote’ set the bar pretty high,” he observes.