Scenes from Umrika. (Photos by Petra Korner)
Cinematographer Petra Korner’s latest feature, Umrika, starts out in a small mountain village in India in the mid-1970s. When Ramakant, a young boy from the village who discovers that his brother – long believed to be in America – has actually gone missing, he begins to invent letters on his behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, while setting out on a journey to find him.
The script has humorous and dramatic aspects, but Korner and director Prashant Nair agreed that it should be photographed with a classic dramatic approach.
Joe Anderson portrays Garrett Tully. (Photo by Rodney Taylor, ASC.)
When Rodney Taylor read the script for Supremacy, he saw a story that could benefit from Super 16 origination and a gritty, handheld aesthetic. The cinematographer mentioned Black Swan, The Hurt Locker and a couple of other recent Super 16 films in his first meeting with Deon Taylor, the basketball player-turned-director. He immediately liked the idea, even though the film had been budgeted for digital video.
Supremacy is the hard-hitting story of a white supremacist, recently paroled, who takes an African-American family hostage. The filmmakers found some Gordon Parks documentary photographs that had an edgy, dimly lit mood with an ominous hint of violence, and used them as a starting point for developing a look for the film.
Photo: Electric City Entertainment
When Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck – the pair that made waves with their first feature Half Nelson in 2006 – approached cinematographer Andrij Parekh with the script for Mississippi Grind, he was instantly drawn to the material. And as it was to be their fourth collaboration, the trio were on the same page when it came to the look.
“They showed me a lot of 1970s films,” says Parekh, an NYU Tisch graduate. “From that, the inspiration for Mississippi Grind was clear. They were attracted to Robert Altman films like California Split, John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, and Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. All films I love. That’s the style and feeling we tried to give to this film – long, slow zooms mixed with handheld.”
Director Gavin O'Connor and Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS
In Jane Got a Gun, a woman must turn to her former fiancé for help in defending her new family. The film, which stars Natalie Portman and Ewan MacGregor, gave Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS an opportunity to work in the Western genre, something many cinematographers dream of doing.
“There’s something unique and iconic about cowboys riding horses across the landscape, or tracking low angle on people confronting each other in a cowboy hat with a couple of guns,” she says. “I think all DPs would love to tackle the genre at some stage.”
(r-l) Beck Bennett and Reid Scott
Actor and fine art photographer Chris Lowell was well aware that a young man struggling with the death of his parents could be considered a filmic trope, particularly in the low-budget realm of movies. So, for his feature film directing debut, Beside Still Waters, which won Best Narrative Feature at the 2013 Austin Film Festival, he sought to elevate it above the usual fare by shooting on KODAK Motion Picture Film, going so far as to have the aesthetic of celluloid imbue his main character in the ensemble comedy-drama with a sense of longing.
“Our protagonist is woefully nostalgic and stuck in the romanticism of the past, and it is holding him back,” Lowell explains. “Film was able to evoke those feelings for us.”