Susan Sarandon. Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.
Super 16mm was always the optimal format for Ping Pong Summer, according to writer/director Michael Tully’s Sundance-premiering feature about a family vacation in the summer of 1985. He and director of photography Wyatt Garfield wanted to make sure they weren’t making fun of the ‘80s, but rather wanted it to feel like an actual movie from their childhoods.
“We were going for a sincere take on the bizarre, indulgent aspects of the 1980s,” says Garfield. “We wanted to embrace the colors of that decade, but we knew that if we shot it digitally all those colors would come through too saturated, and it would quickly become a contemporary, synthetic homage. We relied on film to contain and soften all the saturated colors and keep the palette nostalgic.”
TOM CRUISE as Cage in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ sci-fi thriller “EDGE OF TOMORROW,” distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. Photo by: David James
In Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise’s character endures an experience reminiscent of Groundhog Day. He relives his dying day over and over, hoping to eventually gain the skill and smarts to break the loop and conquer his enemies. But the similarities end there. In Edge of Tomorrow, the world is a high-tech yet recognizable future where human soldiers equipped with robotic suits must fight off invading aliens.
Oscar®-winning cinematographer Dion Beebe, ASC, ACS (Chicago, Collateral, Memoirs of a Geisha, Land of the Lost, Green Lantern, Nine, Gangster Squad) had previously worked with director Doug Liman (Swingers, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumpers, The Bourne Identity) on a few commercials, but never on a project of this scale. They worked toward a visual strategy through careful preproduction testing.
Director Julian Higgins and cinematographer Andrew Wheeler recently reunited for the short film Winter Light, which is based on the writings of James Lee Burke. The story is a modern-day revisionist Western set against a winter landscape in Montana.
Wheeler and Higgins first began working together while attending AFI. Their thesis film Thief, which was shot on 35mm, won a 2011 Student ACADEMY AWARD® Gold Medal. The filmmaking duo also took top honors in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n film contest for Here and Now in 2013.
Scene from The Normal Heart
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.
Fishtail camera set up by Joe Anderson
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.”