×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lensers have little in common

Nommed non-fiction d.p.'s faced wildly different challenges

The Emmy-nominated productions for non-fiction cinematography have little in common but striking results.

Todd Liebler, nominated with Zach Zamboni for the “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” episode shot in post-earthquake Haiti, says each episode of the show varies in “empathetic” style.

“We let the location speak for itself,” Liebler says. The concept is to treat each week’s locale as a character and capture Bourdain’s feeling about it. But just shooting in disaster-ravaged Port-au-Prince was a constant struggle. In public, the populace was camera shy. Once set up to shoot a sunset dinner at a private home amid the rubble, he discovered there was no electricty. He got his shots by setting up his own generator.

Arlene Nelson and Nicola Marsh of “American Masters: Troubadours,” faced a different problem: capturing the now-and-then essence of James Taylor and Carole King. Nelson says they sought “the iconic look of the ’70s,” interpreted as warm colors and romantic key light.

Director Morgan Neville had Nelson shoot with his ’70s-era Nikon lens “for a filmic, print, record-album cover” look. Nelson (who, coincidentally lensed the music mocumentary “A Mighty Wind”) added her own aesthetic. “When we shot Carole and James in the bar, there’s a natural, modern, fresh look,” Nelson says.

For Hurricane Katrina docu “If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise,” necessity forced Cliff Charles to shoot digitally, practically abandoning the 16mm film of the doc’s first part. But Charles adapted and thrived, lighting eight textured backgrounds to “look like a hundred” for “quality, clean, sharp” portraits.

“We definitely wanted a realistic, natural look, to treat the subject matter with dignity and class,” Charles says, “not the look of a hand-held prosumer production.”

The climax of “Whale Wars” finds Marc Carter’s crew following a jet-skiing sea shepherd on a cheeky night mission to hand a Japanese whaler an invoice for his damaged boat. “We used night vision. It’s gritty and grainy, but we didn’t want lighting to tip it off,” Carter recalls.

Overall, Carter strove for a “unified look” with 10 shooters wielding 40-plus cameras on three boats. “I’m most proud of photographing an extraordinary conflict, in a natural, non-invasive way, and make it a great-looking show at the same time.”

Josh Fox, who favors a rock-show-flavored subjective style, went bare-bones for “Gasland” — to the point of “smelling water that smells like turpentine, with one arm holding the jar, the other holding the camera.” He credits editor Matthew Sanchez with developing the “verite style that matches the emotional sensibility of the story.” Fox called the nomination “an endorsement of reckless driving. Texting and driving has nothing on shooting and driving.”

Click here for the full list of Creative Arts nominees.

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: CREATIVE ARTS NOMINEES
Stylish spaces tell their own stories

| Lensers have little in common | Prosthetics pros do a lot with a little | Syfy judge raises ‘Dead’

More TV

  • Natalie Dormer

    Natalie Dormer Joins 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' at Showtime

    Natalie Dormer has been cast in upcoming drama series “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” in a lead role, Variety has learned. Described as a spiritual descendant of the original “Penny Dreadful,” the new series opens in 1938 Los Angeles. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega is embroiled in a story that [...]

  • EP_6_0036.ARW

    Neil Gaiman on ‘Good Omens’ Series and Honoring Terry Pratchett’s Legacy

    Neil Gaiman has spent two years working on the TV adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s novel “Good Omens” and told an international TV crowd this week he dedicated himself to the task to honor a request from his friend and co-writer, who died in 2015. “I didn’t in any real sense of the word [...]

  • TEST

    Desus and Mero Promise 'Cultural Paradigm-Shifting S---' at Series Premiere

    The stars of Showtime’s new late-night series “Desus & Mero” stand ready to unite a bitterly divided nation with rapier wit delivered with Bronx flair. Desus Nice and the Kid Mero were revved up Thursday night as the they gathered with friends, family and crew members in at the Clocktower in Manhattan for the premiere [...]

  • Black Mirror

    Banijay Group, Endemol Shine Renew Sale Talks

    Three months after Endemol Shine told its management it was calling off the sales process, talks are again underway with French company Banijay Group over a possible sale, Variety has confirmed. Banijay had previously made a bid to acquire Endemol Shine, the joint venture between 21st Century Fox and Apollo Global Management that is behind [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Removed From Final 'Empire' Season 5 Episodes Following Arrest

    Jussie Smollett has been removed from the final Season 5 episodes of the Fox series “Empire” in the wake of his arrest Thursday morning. “The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us” said series executives Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and [...]

  • Ava Duvernay poses in the press

    Ava DuVernay, Lisa Nishimura, Casey Bloys Among New TV Academy Exec Committee Members

    Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay is among the six notable industry figures who have been appointed to the Television Academy’s executive committee by new chairman/CEO Frank Scherma. DuVernay, whose recent TV credits include the documentary “13th” and drama “Queen Sugar,” will be joined on the committee by HBO programming president Casey Bloys; former [...]

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content