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Cinematographer Peter Simonite Talks On-Set Education, Night Filming

What does it take to rise through the ranks of the camera department to the vaunted position of director of photography?

“Lots of learning,” says Peter Simonite, d.p. on “The Perfect Guy,” which is wrapping its 34-day L.A. shoot this week. “I had long training as an assistant and an operator. You learn from doing on set, and I’ve worked with lots of cinematographers over the years” — a list that includes Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki, Terrence Malick’s go-to d.p., on “The Tree of Life” and “To the
Wonder.”

“Guy,” a Screen Gems noir thriller directed by David M. Rosenthal (“A Single Shot”), which stars Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy, shot mostly at night using Sony digital cameras and anamorphic lenses. “David wanted the film to be dark,” says the d.p., and much of the shooting used available light to create a “mysterious” look.

“L.A. is a beautiful place to film at night,” adds Simonite. In the middle of the shoot the crew got the word that California would increase its annual production incentive to $330 million. “Everyone was really thrilled about that,” he says.

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