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Cinematographers

Below-the-Line Impact Report 2012

CALEB DESCHANEL

After June’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” the prolific Deschanel has two more films coming out this year: the NC-17 rated, William Friedkin-directed “Killer Joe,” which has already made the film fest circuit; and Tom Cruise starrer “Jack Reacher.” “I try to find a visual style that will draw the audience into the story and amplify the drama and be one with the story. I want the audience to be immersed in the moments and feel they are a part of it,” says Deschanel of his approach. For “Reacher,” he and director-writer Christopher McQuarrie emulated 1970s action films and shot with anamorphic lenses, including what he calls an incredible chase scene not in the original script that Cruise and McQuarrie devised. Deschanel is now about to prep “Winter’s Tale,” which he calls “a wonderful fantasy film set in New York written and directed by Akiva Goldsman, whose work I’ve long admired.”

ANNA FOERSTER

Foerster is one of the rare female cinematographers in the business and one of the first to work on a tentpole — Roland Emmerich’s upcoming action-adventure “White House Down.” But for her it’s all about the craft, not breaking barriers. Still, working with Emmerich she’s progressed from vfx d.p. to second unit director to cinematographer. Her versatility is also demonstrated by the range of styles she’s taken on: there couldn’t be a greater artistic contrast between last year’s period drama “Anonymous” and the claustrophobic race against time to save the president. The challenge, she says, is avoiding genre cliches. “It doesn’t matter what the budget is. You try to figure out what makes the most sense for the story.”

ANDREW LESNIE

Since winning the Oscar for the first “The Lord of the Rings” in 2001 Lesnie has kept his residency in Middle Earth, working with director Peter Jackson on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” for December release, and then on the franchise’s next installment, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.” “It’s been a long and intense shoot, with a wonderful and committed group of people,” Lesnie says. He contrasts the “LOTR” and “Hobbit” productions: “The second time around, it’s a completely different technical experience, showcasing the amazing developments that have taken place in the digital realm in the last 10 years.” Lesnie also brought his lensmanship to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

SEAMUS M C GARVEY

After working on more intimate films like “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Nowhere Boy,” McGarvey told his agent he wanted to change things up a bit. “I was going through a divorce and I needed to make some money,” he admits. Along came “The Avengers.” “When they offered me the film I was actually quite shocked,” he says. Though he entered the process for different reasons, McGarvey came out with a newfound love of superhero movies. “It was such an education,” he says. “I learned so much about state-of-the-art visual effects. And weirdly, I learned the superhero scenario is storytelling in the purest form.” Currently McGarvey is finishing off Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” which will be released Stateside in November. “He’s made something that’s quite startling and brave,” McGarvey says of the “Atonement” director. “In re-imagining it, we had no period tropes to emulate and it allowed for rich scenarios both in lighting and design.”

PHEDON PAPAMICHAEL

Blockbusters are one thing — Papamichael worked on “Knight and Day” and “3:10 to Yuma” — but he’s been turning down tentpoles lately to explore more intimate films like Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” and George Clooney’s “The Ides of March.” Character dramas, he says, require him to tell story “without getting in the way of the performance with technical complexity, and without showcasing the photography.” In other words, if the audience sees what he’s doing, he’s not doing it right. His next projects: Judd Apatow’s “This Is 40,” which he says required room to improvise on set; and Payne’s black-and-white “Nebraska.” Coordinating with production design and wardrobe to make the best use of the black and white is a top priority, he says, but so is “watching lots of black and white films with Alexander.”

ROBERT RICHARDSON

Shooting Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” was Richardson’s first foray into 3D. Not only did he receive an Oscar for that film, but he says it changed the way he approaches his craft. He now perceives sequences in “dimension,” meaning that he thinks more about the space in which the scene is being photographed. Richardson has shot two films since “Hugo” — “Django Unchained” with Quentin Tarantino and “World War Z” with Marc Forster. In both, he’s recognized a difference in approach to lighting due to “Hugo.” “I learned a tremendous amount about CGI on ‘WWZ,’ creating a realistic world in which the antagonists — the zombies — were computer-generated or enhanced,” Richardson says. “With ‘Django,’ I feel at home with Quentin … The challenge has been to create images that support the level of what Quentin has written and expects.”

GUILLAUME SCHIFFMAN

Guillaume Schiffman has been busy since shooting best picture Oscar winner “The Artist.” He’s worked with seven French directors on omnibus pic “The Players,” a series of shorts about infidelity, starring “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin; helmer Regis Roinsard’s “Populaire,” a 1950s-era French romcom set in New York; and “Elle s’en va,” a road movie with Catherine Deneuve directed by Emmanuelle Bercot. “Populaire,” which was snapped up by the Weinstein Co., was shot on film and desaturated except for red and green. Now, Schiffman is working again with longtime collaborator, director Michel Hazanavicius, on their first film since “The Artist.” He describes it as “a movie about a woman who goes into a civil war but it’s about finding your own identity.”

TOM STERN

Stern’s turn on Gary Ross’ “The Hunger Games” was almost like a sabbatical from his ongoing collaboration with Clint Eastwood. “I feel I’ve been getting the golden age of Eastwood,” says Stern, who started working for the Hollywood icon as a gaffer in 1981 and has been his d.p. since “Blood Work” in 2002. Since then the two have made more than 10 features, including “Mystic River,” “The Changeling,” “Million Dollar Baby” and “Hereafter.” “Clint’s unchanged motto is, ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,’ ” says Stern. “He takes very good care of us. There are certain environments in film where it’s always life and death. We don’t do that. We take the time we need to do what we need to do, then do it.” Stern is now finishing up “Trouble With the Curve,” directed by Eastwood’s longtime producer Robert Lorenz, and starring Eastwood. “He has a real focus when he’s acting,” says Stern. “Even though he’s an uber-macho sort of guy in general, it’s a sensitive place to be.”

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