Focus On 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.”

Creating an Edgy, Anti-Comedy Look for Tammy

Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from Tammy (Photo by Michael Tackett.)

When a sample film clip on screen drew a collective, audible gasp in the screening room, director of photography Russ Alsobrook, ASC knew he would be shooting the comedy Tammy on KODAK Film. The cinematographer and the film’s principals had been at Burbank-based lab/post house FotoKem during preproduction doing digital versus film origination comparisons.

“It’s like we’ve forgotten how great film looks when you see it in comparison,” Alsobrook remarks. “We looked at each other, and it was a done deal. There was no question we were going to shoot fi lm. It has a rich, creamy look to it that you just can’t get any other way.”

Deshaies and Bonello Reunite for Saint Laurent

Photo by Carole Bétuel © Mandarin/Europacorp.

Saint Laurent chronicles 10 years in the life of designer Yves Saint Laurent, beginning at age 30. It sheds light on his genius, as well as on his darker side. Co-produced by EuropaCorp and Mandarin Cinéma, the film reunites cinematographer Josée Deshaies and writer-director Bertrand Bonello.

Deshaies, a native of Montreal, Canada, got her first job as a director of photography with Bonello, a French director, on Qui je suis in 1996. This led to collaborations between the two that would span more than 18 years and five critically acclaimed feature films including Something Organic, The Pornographer, On War, Tiresia, and House of Tolerance.

Creating Dreams for Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife”

Scenes from “Afterlife.” (Photo by Emily Kai Block.)

Cinematographer Evan Prosofsky and director Emily Kai Bock talked at length about dreams while in prep for Arcade Fire’s wildly popular music video “Afterlife.”

“We kind of resented the thought that dreams have to be sepia-toned and Gaussian-blurred,” says Prosofsky.

“Troubles” Avoided for Syfy’s Haven in Nova Scotia

A scene from Haven. (Photo: Michael Tompkins)

The Syfy series Haven, based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid, takes viewers to the mythical town of Haven, Maine. There the series follows FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who arrives in town to follow a routine case but soon finds herself caught up in the town’s many mysteries. Audrey quickly discovers that Haven is a longtime refugee for people affected by a range of supernatural afflictions known as “Troubles,” and she herself has a surprising connection to the town.

The series, which just completed its fourth season, is shot entirely in Nova Scotia, Canada, in and around the town of Chester. When the decision was made to shoot in Nova Scotia, Executive Producer Shawn Piller (Stephen King’s Dead Zone, Greek) turned to cinematographer Eric Cayla, CSC, whom he had worked with on a previous series.

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