John Schwartzman, ASC has more than 35 studio feature films to his credit, including Seabiscuit, which earned him an Oscar® nomination, and The Rock, Armageddon, Saving Mr. Banks, and Dracula Untold – all shot on film. One of the executive producers on his most recent assignment, Jurassic World, was Steven Spielberg. So when Schwartzman proposed shooting on film, it seemed like an obvious choice.
“I had some previous experience shooting very big budget movies in Hawaii, on Pearl Harbor,” he says. “I knew the contrast ratios of day exteriors in Hawaii, and almost everything we were going to shoot in Hawaii was day exterior. We were there for the big vistas and the scope and all of the things that you can’t do on stage. Nothing else was going to capture the 18,000 footcandles in the highlights of the sky, and the 20 footcandles in the shadows of the jungle, in the same shot. I didn’t have to choose to preserve either the highlights or the shadows. I knew that if I placed my exposure where I thought it should be, I was going to have all of that information there. Film was simply the right tool.”
Entourage, the HBO series about a crew of young, working class New Yorkers and their adventures in Hollywood, finished its strong eight-year run in 2011 with a total of 26 Emmy® nominations and numerous wins. Rumors of a feature film began swirling even before the series finale, and by early 2014, with the support of executive producer Mark Wahlberg, cameras rolled. The feature film depicts Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as he makes his feature directorial debut, and includes the principal cast members reprising their roles, as well as a star-studded list of celebrities making cameo appearances.
The project reunites director/creator Doug Ellin and cinematographer Steven Fierberg, ASC. Fierberg (The Affair, Secretary, Love and Other Drugs) shot the first 25 episodes of the show, setting a distinctive look that was built around the ensemble nature of most scenes, subtly underscoring a blend of comedy and drama that audiences loved.
“I’m a believer in organic filmmaking,” he says. “I like to give my interpretation in the moment. If you’re surrounded by good production design, and you have a good director, cast, grader and editor, everything just seems to happen. It's a perfect balance between just enough planning and the director letting his/her actors go, and then you being there to capture organically."
Annis is an in-demand cinematographer who specializes in unique imagery for music videos and commercials. His recent credits include clips for Florence and the Machine, KWABS, Bryan Ferry and Gary Clarke Jr. and commercials for Powerade, UNIQLO, Sony and Adidas.
Joe Swanberg and Ben Richardson have made three movies together – Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas, and now Digging for Fire. The film is a dramedy, co-written with Jake Johnson who also stars in it, about a man in a mid-wife crisis and a woman trying to figure out where mother/wife ends and she begins.
“We've got a good shorthand going at this point,” Richardson said, “which makes us pretty efficient with shot design. So, this time we decided to go all the way and shoot 35mm with the camera on the dolly.”
Together, Haris Zambarloukos, BSC and Kenneth Branagh have made the otherworldly Marvel pic Thor, the stylish Michael Caine vehicle Sleuth, and the spy thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Each of those projects also was made on 35mm film. Their latest collaboration, a live-action update of Disney’s Cinderella, adds yet another completely different project to their body of work.
When he got the call, Zambarloukos was initially hesitant. “When I read the script, I began to realize what a great opportunity it was,” he says. “It’s an ancient, timeless story with versions in many cultures. Within Disney’s version of the tale is a tragic orphan story that is almost Dickensian. And after our first meeting, I realized why Ken wanted to do it – it’s a chance to make a classic, the first of its kind, in a new way. It’s a big responsibility.”
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