Danny Moder didn’t set out to be a cinematographer, but filmmaking is in his DNA. His grandfather, Dick Moder, was a director and his father, Mike Moder, spent nearly four decades on the production frontlines of films like Jeremiah Johnson, Beverly Hills Cop, and Crimson Tide. And it was on that 1995 Tony Scott action flick that Moder got his first taste of life on the set, after nagging his father “enough that he let me try it out for a summer job, working as a production assistant.” From there, he was hooked.
In the nearly two decades since he began his career, Moder has amassed nearly 40 credits, most recently as the cinematographer on Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart, which stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, and Julia Roberts, who also happens to be Moder’s wife of a dozen years.
Wally Pfister, an ACADEMY AWARD®-winning cinematographer, recently turned his talents to directing. The result is Transcendence, a film that ponders the fraught relationship between humans and the technology they create. The film stars Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, and Johnny Depp, who plays a scientist who defies death when his consciousness is transferred to the digital realm. Prior to Transcendence, Pfister was best known for his work as a cinematographer on the films of Christopher Nolan, including the stunning, spectacular imagery in films like Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception. All those movies were shot on Kodak film, in some cases on large formats, like 65mm and even IMAX. Pfister and cinematographer Jess Hall, BSC chose to shoot Transcendence in 35mm anamorphic format with a photochemical finish.
During your cinematography career, did you know that someday you’d direct? It was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t know that it would be a big Hollywood feature, but I can say that I knew I’d give it a shot one day. Even when I was working as a camera operator, the actors and their performances fascinated me, and I wanted to explore that in more depth. I’ve always been a musician, so I’ve really sunk my teeth into the music and sound aspects of directing, too. I’ve very much relished the writing process as well. The combination of the words and the way an artist like Johnny Depp brings them to life – let’s just say that I really had a lot of fun throughout the entire project.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is the latest cinematic tale from Lasse Hallström, the director behind personal films like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, Once Around, and My Life as a Dog, and more recently, The Hypnotist, Safe Haven and Dear John. The new film is a culture-clash yarn set mostly in southern France, where a traditional family-run French restaurant is forced to adapt when a family from India immigrates and opens a restaurant across the street.
The Hundred-Foot Journey was photographed by Linus Sandgren, FSF, a Scandinavian whose imagery was seen in last year’s hit American Hustle, as well as in Promised Land, Gus Van Sant’s 2012 film about the effects of hydrofracking.
On an expansive rural ranch, director Andrew Renzi stood before the majestic Montana landscape to capture a serene study of the cycle of life for the documentary Fishtail. Rancher Tylee Abbott runs a full head of cattle here. Abbott is also a Western American art dealer. It's in his blood — he is kin to painter William Tylee Ranney, whose brush strokes immortalized old trappers, wide prairies and landscapes.
“I have a lot of love and appreciation for that way of life,” says Renzi, who in his youth worked on Abbott's ranch during summers. “Tylee and I came together with this idea of doing a contemporary re-appropriation of traditional Western American art into the film medium. I wanted to make a documentary that was observational and sort of ethereal through exploring subject matter, like the birthing of cows, to give us a sense of life cycle rather than have it be strictly procedural about what people do on a ranch. It is something we hope that people can soak in and surrender to its pace.”
On and off for eight years, director Zeresenay Mehari worked to make Difret, his narrative feature debut, a reality. A graduate of University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Mehari’s script depicted a bright, 14-year-old girl who is abducted into marriage, an ancient tradition that is not uncommon in Mehari’s native land of Ethiopia. In the story, the girl fights against this injustice, shooting her would-be husband in the struggle. A tenacious lawyer from the city defends the girl, who is caught between the civil laws and old traditions. After a couple of false starts, he found financing for the film. Angelina Jolie is among the executive producers.
Mehari connected with cinematographer Monika Lenczewska, a graduate of the American Film Institute whose credits include multiple lauded short films, numerous commercials, and the feature films B for Boy and Imperial Dreams. Lenczewska was impressed with the script, and when Mehari mentioned he wanted to shoot on 2-perf 35mm film, she officially signed on.
Download as PDF