Wes Anderson’s string of idiosyncratic, personal films includes Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom and now, The Grand Budapest Hotel. At the camera for all of these films was Robert Yeoman, ASC, and in each case, they chose to tell their stories on film.
“I’m such a believer in film,” says Yeoman, whose resume also includes Drugstore Cowboy, Dogma, The Squid and the Whale, and Bridesmaids. “I prefer the look and the on-set discipline. I find that when shooting digitally, the camera doesn’t cut, and people’s attention seems to wander. I look around the set and everyone’s on their phones. The process has been polluted. I think film causes people to concentrate on the shot. When the camera is rolling, everyone knows the importance of the moment and is paying attention. This energy is translated onto the film.”
For the wintry, subdued tones of Inside Llewyn Davis, writers-directors Joel and Ethan Coen turned to Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC. Delbonnel’s elegiac work on the picture is nominated for an Oscar®, BAFTA, and ASC Outstanding Achievement Award, and he took home the Bronze Frog at the 2013 Camerimage Festival. He has earned three previous Oscar® nominations for Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In a career spanning more than 20 narrative films, Delbonnel has shot film on every project but one.
Inside Llewyn Davis was reportedly made for a relatively modest $11 million, over the course of 42 days, mostly on practical locations. The filmmakers envisioned a tale infused with sadness and regret, set in the folk music milieu of Greenwich Village in 1960. In the story, talented singer-songwriter Llewyn Davis endures a variety of difficulties – such as the recent loss of his duo partner to suicide, and the inadvertent escape of his benefactor’s cat. Trying desperately to make it big, he travels to Chicago for a last-ditch audition for an influential promoter.
When director Ralph Fiennes decided to bring The Invisible Woman to the screen, he turned to cinematographer Rob Hardy, BSC to help him transport his audience to Victorian England. Based on Claire Tomalin's 1990 biography of the same name, The Invisible Woman is centered on the true story of Charles Dickens’ relationship with actress Nelly Ternan. Dickens (also played by Fiennes) was 45, married, and at the height of his storied career when he met 18-year-old Nelly (Felicity Jones). The film chronicles their thirteen year secret love affair, which ended with his death.
Fiennes and Hardy had not worked together before, but instantly connected with a shared vision for the film. “Ralph is wonderfully obsessed with detail and wanted the story told in the most truthful way possible,” notes Hardy. “I had never shot a piece set in the Victorian era, and was itching to do one because I wanted to find a way to visually translate what that time may have been really like without romanticizing it. Adversely, the only reference point I had going into the project was an American photographer named Saul Leiter, who photographed the streets of New York in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The colors in those photographs were incredibly vibrant but also very succinct and painterly, which is something unique to film. So I went to a meeting at Ralph’s apartment and brought a book of Leiter’s work. I handed it to him, and he immediately said, ‘come with me,’ and took me upstairs. There on his walls were five original Leiter photographs. We knew in that moment we had found the way forward.”
The Hunger Games is a sci-fi phenomenon set in a dystopian society that pits adolescent boys and girls in a battle to the death. Praised for its literary approach to plot and character, the tale was first brought to the screen by director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) and cinematographer Tom Stern, ASC, AFC.
Now, the second book in the series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, has been translated for cinema. This time, the director is Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, I Am Legend) and the cinematographer is Jo Willems, SBC, whose credits include the features Limitless and Hard Candy, television pilots like Touch and Awake, and many music videos for top artists such as Prince and Justin Timberlake.
HBO continues its run of cinematic originals in 2014 with the eight-episode series True Detective. Written by acclaimed novelist Nic Pizzolatto and set in southern Louisiana, the series stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two detectives thrust together in a 17-year search for a serial killer.
Cary Fukunaga directs with Australian cinematographer Adam Arkapaw guiding the visuals. Arkapaw, with the features Lore, The Snowtown Murders and Animal Kingdom under his belt, recently garnered an EMMY® Award for his work on the 2013 series Top of the Lake.
Download as PDF