Reteaming with “Dope” director Rick Famuyiwa, cinematographer Rachel Morrison was enthusiastic about delivering the 1991 story of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Clarence Thomas to a new generation in the HBO movie “Confirmation.”
To bring the story to life, she deployed several tricks of the cinematographer’s trade.
Because archival footage was integrated into the saga, Morrison faced the challenge of matching newly shot images with old. To that end, she used a vintage standard-definition Panasonic camera to mirror the lower quality of ’90s TV pictures.
And to heighten the theatricality of the hearings, she shot Thomas (Wendell Pierce) and Hill (Kerry Washington) with anamorphic lenses, which distort an image, while shooting everyone else with conventional, spherical lenses.
The d.p. also refined the lighting on the actors’ faces, focusing on edges and features that provided a reflection of the characters’ emotional states.
“Since there weren’t actual landscapes to work with,” Morrison says, “I treated the faces as landscapes, to humanize the drama.”