Focus On Film (Page 2)

Danny Moder Touches The Normal Heart

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.

The Fishtail Basin Ranch Gets Its Story Told on Film

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.”

Difret: Ethiopian Story Earns Praise at Sundance, Berlin

Tizita Hagere Photo by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari

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.

Dan Mindel Eyes The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield stars as Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures' "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," also starring Emma Stone. (Photo By: Niko Tavernise) Copyright: ©2013 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.

Cinematographer Daniel Mindel, ASC, BSC is known for lending a sense of realism to big-budget fantasy films like Mission Impossible III; Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. His latest adventure is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in which Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) must face off against a roster of supervillains while trying to work out his adolescent angst. The cast also includes Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Campbell Scott and Sally Field.

Director Marc Webb returns to the director’s chair, fortified by the success of The Amazing Spider-Man. That film was shot native 3D, but this time around, the origination medium was Kodak 35mm anamorphic film.

Creating the Gritty Look of Low Down

Elle Fanning in Low Down. (Credit Low Down Production.)

Christopher Blauvelt is a third-generation filmmaker who still treasures his grandfather’s Graflex 4x5 still camera. His grandfather was a grip, his grandmother worked in the costume department, and his father, uncle and brother are all in the camera department. His father gave him a POLAROID camera when he was 4 years old, and he’s been shooting ever since.

In addition to his family connections, Blauvelt worked as an assistant under the tutelage of the late Harris Savides, ASC. “Harris opened up new worlds for me,” Blauvelt recalls. “He challenged everything about the way things were done. He shared his knowledge for the most obscure and amazing movies.”