Exposure: Wally Pfister

April 16, 2014 by  
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As a strong right hand to filmmaker Christopher Nolan for more than a decade, director of photography Wally Pfister, ASC, garnered considerable notice and accolades, culminating with an Oscar for his work on Nolan’s Inception. Pfister’s style is story driven yet naturalistic, even when portraying images of the fantastic, such as the memorable night exterior of illuminated bulbs in The Prestige. This approach helped ground the Batman trilogy with visual credibility, in the process raising the bar for photo-real visual effects in order to integrate them seamlessly with his work. Read more

Exposure – Jim Berney

March 20, 2014 by  
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After obtaining a master’s in computer science and working at DARPA (part of the U.S. Department of Defense), Jim Berney entered the industry at Metrolight Studios in 1995 as a technical director. Berney then spent a decade-and-a-half at Sony Pictures Imageworks, rising to become CG supervisor and then visual effects supervisor. Along the way, he has helped launch a certain young wizard on his way to Hogswarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, took a trip to Middle Earth for The Two Towers, toiled on the Matrix sequels and nabbed an Oscar nomination for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. His latest effort, Divergent, is (surprisingly) his first that originated digitally. The Chicago-set feature’s amalgamation of in-camera and CGI reflects both Berney’s strong technical background and his on-the-job experience for traditional film effects, as writer Kevin H. Martin discovered. Read more

Exposure – Akiva Goldsman

February 3, 2014 by  
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Akiva Goldsman

Akiva Goldsman is well aware he has used up a good chunk of his professional currency over the last two decades as an Oscar-winning screenwriter and producer. “God forbid I need [to ask for another] favor in Hollywood; I’m screwed,” offers Goldsman, who called upon long-time professional friends like Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, and Jennifer Connelly to help bring his feature directorial debut, Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of Mark Helprin’s epic 1983 novel, to life. Read more

Exposure – Spike Jonze

January 2, 2014 by  
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Anyone who’s ever seen a Spike Jonze movie – Where the Wild Things Are, Adaptation, and Being John Malkovich among them – knows how difficult they are to categorize. They come along every five or six years and crash-land, like performance art from another planet. That’s probably as it should be for a Hollywood director whose background includes magazine editor (the awesome Dirt), skateboard company owner (Girl) and music video pioneer (too many accolades to mention). Read more

Exposure – The Coen Brothers

December 10, 2013 by  
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It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Blood Simple, the ferociously compelling debut from Joel and Ethan Coen, thrilled audiences at a little film festival called Sundance. In the ensuing three decades, the brothers have more than lived up to that film’s promise, flexing their creative chops across a bouquet of Hollywood genres – B-gangster film, screwball comedy, western, prison road movie – with a look and feel so unique they all seem “Coenesque,” even though no two look or sound the same. Read more

Exposure – Alexander Payne

November 1, 2013 by  
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Producer/director/writer Alexander Payne grew up in Omaha, Nebraska in a family of restaurateurs. He was fascinated by cameras at an early age, but his parents’ preference for a law degree put filmmaking aside until after he had earned a degree in history and Spanish at Stanford. Graduate school at UCLA followed, and Payne’s thesis film screened at Sundance and attracted offers from studios and agents. Five years later he released his debut theatrical feature, Citizen Ruth, introducing many of the hallmarks that have come to characterize a Payne film, including a poker-faced blend of comedy and drama and complex characters who are grounded in the real world. Read more

Exposure: Alfonso Cuarón

October 4, 2013 by  
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Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón first met cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, ASC, AMC, at film school in his native Mexico. But it wasn’t until more than a decade later, after Cuarón had worked as an AD on numerous films, that the pair collaborated on Cuarón’s first feature, Love in the Time of Hysteria. They continued their association on the Showtime series Fallen Angels, followed by the features A Little Princess, Great Expectations and Y Tu Mamá También. Cuarón agreed to helm Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, then contributed the “Parc Monceau” segment of Paris, je t’aime (both shot by Michael Seresin, BSC), with the former proving to be a critical and commercial success, before reuniting with Lubezki for Children of Men. That parable of the near future made a virtue of sustained single shots, with complex staging and camera moves that compare favorably to Welles’ masterful pair of long takes in Touch of Evil and Hitchcock’s Rope and Under Capricorn. Read more

Exposure: Ann Biderman

September 20, 2013 by  
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With a career replete with hard-hitting stories, from television, beginning with NYPD Blue to the creation of the cult cop drama Southland, to features like Copycat, Primal Fear, and Public Enemies, it’s easy to think the Oz behind the résumé’s curtain is a macho John Milius type. But, in fact, writer/producer Ann Biderman is mainly about interesting screen creations, having said in past interviews she never felt the need to focus on feminine subject matter. Biderman’s world is filled with flawed characters struggling in stress-filled and hazardous situations. Her latest creation, Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, is about a professional fixer whose job – and father – clash with his beloved family. It debuted in June on Showtime to huge ratings. Ted Elrick spoke with Biderman about TV past and present, and how the best part of her job is when the writing’s done. Read more

Exposure: M. Night Shyamalan

June 7, 2013 by  
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For his latest film, After Earth, M. Night Shyamalan tells the exciting tale of a son desperately trying to save his father, who is trapped in a wrecked spaceship on an apocalyptic Earth. Packed with action sequences, such as the ship’s being bombarded by asteroids and the son’s battling monstrous leopards and a cave creature, Shyamalan called on veteran cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, ASC, BSC, whose credits include Mars Attacks, A History of Violence, and perhaps the best film in all of the Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strikes Back. Interestingly, Suschitzky’s father, Wolfgang, shot such iconic action films as Douglas Hickox’s Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price, and Mike Hodges’ gritty Get Carter, starring Michael Caine. For After Earth, Shyamalan took the untested Sony F65 straight from the assembly line to capture the action in the humid jungles of Costa Rica. Ted Elrick talked with the writer/director about his first experience with a true high-resolution workflow, and how green-screen-heavy movies can impact creative flow. Read more

Exposure: Joseph Kosinski

April 3, 2013 by  
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After the success of Alien, in 1979, director Ridley Scott became involved in an attempt to adapt the science-fiction classic Dune to the big screen. In attempting to convince acclaimed fantasist Harlan Ellison to pen the screenplay, Scott remarked, “The time is ripe for a John Ford of science-fiction films. I’m determined to be that director.” Read more

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