The October 2009 issue of American Cinematographer magazine, has a special focus on lighting.
Written and directed by Jane Campion, Bright Star chronicles the love affair between Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), the young woman who lived next door. The story spans four years and, true to the spirit of the Romantics, highlights the splendor of all four seasons. Australian cinematographer Greig Fraser spent much of his prep time learning the light in England, where most of the picture was shot. In a Q&A with senior editor Rachael K. Bosley, Fraser recalls, “As soon as I arrived in England, I realized had no understanding of how the light worked there, so every morning during prep, I went out with a stills camera and a film camera to just see what happened as the day developed. The light in England is beautiful and soft, totally different from Australia. In Australia, it feels as though the sun is almost burning you, but when the sun comes out in England, it feels like something growing. I wanted to try to express that visually.”
Mad Men (AMC)
Chris Manley, ASC recently earned his first Emmy nomination for his work on this critically acclaimed series, which will begin its third season on Aug. 16. Set in the 1960s, the ongoing saga of Manhattan advertising executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has been lauded not only for its writing and performances, but also for its stylish cinematography, costumes and production design. Manley will discuss his work on the series' second and third seasons, and our coverage will include a lighting diagram of the Draper home.
Surrogates (Touchstone Pictures)
Oliver Wood crafted a futuristic look for this sci-fi thriller from director Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown, U-571, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), starring Bruce Willis as a cop who investigates a series of unusual murders in a world where humans isolate themselves and interact exclusively through robotlike proxies, or surrogates. Wood will discuss his approach to the production’s highly stylized lighting and production design, which extrapolates the look established in the source material, a five-issue comic-book series written by Robert Venditti and drawn by Brett Weldele.
Bronson (Magnolia Pictures)
Larry Smith, BSC created intense and disturbing imagery for this prison drama from Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn, whose other credits include Fear X and the highly regarded Pusher trilogy. A critical hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Bronson is based on the real-life exploits of Britain’s most infamous inmate, Michael Peterson, who rechristened himself Charles Bronson (after the American action-film star) before embarking on a decades-long mission to defy prison authorities while serving a lengthy sentence for armed robbery — most of which he has spent in solitary confinement. In dramatizing Bronson’s saga, Smith and Refn employed unusual lighting schemes and extreme lens perspectives that recall the work of Stanley Kubrick (whose final film, Eyes Wide Shut, was shot by Smith) and Kenneth Anger.
The October issue’s departments will also offer illuminating insights:
Short Takes will detail the making of the music video “Into Your Arms,” directed and photographed for the band Maine by Aaron Platt, who combined the Red One camera with motion-control techniques while shooting at California’s Ontario Airport.
Production Slate will present an overview of the new Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, which will air on PBS in the fall. Nearly a decade in the making, the project is a visual feast, featuring some of the most extensive, breathtaking images of the national parks system ever captured on film. It contains the most contemporary footage of any Burns film since Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, and was shot principally by chief cinematographer Buddy Squires (who has filmed all of Burns' documentaries), longtime Florentine cameraman Allen Moore, Lincoln Else (a former park ranger at Yosemite) and Burns himself.
This section will also offer coverage of Georgia O’Keefe, a Lifetime Network biopic shot in New Mexico by Paul Elliott for director Bob Balaban.
Post Focus will detail the visual –effects workflow for the recent miniseries Red Dwarf: Back to Earth, which was shot with the Red camera and incorporated more than 200 visual –effects shots from vendors around the globe.
ASC Close-Up will offer a profile of Society member Lowell Peterson, whose cinematography credits include the television series Knots Landing, The Client, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Profiler, Six Feet Under and Desperate Housewives.