“I don’t believe in playing it safe. And on Breaking Bad, we were all encouraged to take chances. I was constantly stretching the limits of film with my lighting. The storytelling business is a representational art form, not a reproductive art form. Throughout the history of filmmaking, cinematographers have been there to visually represent the emotional moments of the stories that we’re telling. We’re expected to use poetic license, to create. Nobody’s house is as dark during the day as Walter White’s at the end of Breaking Bad. But that was the right look to support the story at that moment. That’s where the DP’s skills and sensibility come in. The film stocks today are tremendous–the best they’ve ever been–and the transferring technology is incredible. Right now, they’re bumping every frame of Breaking Bad up to 4K. It looks just amazing.”
Michael Slovis, ASC photographed the final five seasons of Breaking Bad, earning three Emmy nominations along the way. His previous credits include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, for which he won an Emmy, as well as episodes of 30 Rock, Rubicon and Fringe. He also directed four episodes of Breaking Bad, and episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Chicago Fire.
“Love is a source of freedom, which emerges through one’s metaphysical response. It is an invisible force that makes the world around me fascinating. Hence, I continue to explore the hidden mystical beauty through mediums like painting, writing, observing and filmmaking.
“From its inception to today, filmmaking has set its profound identity, and in the process, it is considered to be the best metaphysician – ahead of common sense, philosophy and even the disciplines of physics.
“Film handles the subtleties and range of natural light beautifully with a wonderfully smooth rendering of highlights and shadows. And the process is entirely simple and direct. Shots are composed looking through a high-quality optical viewfinder that shows color, contrast and the qualities of light exactly as they exist in nature without any electronic intermediary. There is a direct connection between one’s brain and an image coming through the lens and off of a mirror. For work that should last through the ages, I love film and I intend to keep shooting it for a long time.”
Buddy Squires is an Oscar®-nominated filmmaker and Emmy®-winning director of photography best known for his cinematography on the films of Ken Burns. Squires’ cinematography credits include seven Oscar®-nominated films with two Academy Award® winners. He has 10 Primetime Emmy® nominations to his name. In 2007, Squires was awarded the International Documentary Association’s Career Achievement Award. His credits include The Civil War, Jazz, The Central Park Five, The National Parks, Ethel, New York, The Donner Party, Ansel Adams, Mark Twain, Nanking, The War, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, Strangers No More, Baseball, Prohibition, The Dust Bowl, and the upcoming Salinger.
“Just as a painter loves his colors, brushes and empty canvas, I love my light, camera and film to paint pictures. My job is to fulfill the director’s vision. When designing the look of a project, I give priority to what the script demands, and then consider the budget and ways to accomplish the images without compromising quality. I still prefer the realistic film look, and I don’t rely too much on modern post production. I trust what my eye sees, so the audience becomes immersed in the story.
“Today, everything including film’s language, looks, subject and presentation has changed. I consider myself lucky to be a participant in this era. Cinema has become more realistic, and to address this evolution, I am always ready with my camera, Kodak stock and lights.
The goal of all cinematographers is to create images that will be printed forever in the audience’s mind. Everything you do and everything you see will come through in your approach. I use the meaning of a certain color, contrast, or diagonal in the frame to manipulate or channel the audience’s feelings. I might not be consciously thinking of these things, but it comes from somewhere inside me. I’m fascinated by still photography, and I love the various formats that have developed over the history of photography. When it comes to format, the more choices we have, the better. We chose to film The Master on 65 mm film with photochemical processing because the characteristics of the images echoed the iconic still photography of that period. The images are amazing.”
Mihai Malaimare, Jr. is a native of Romania who attended the National University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest. His work can be seen in promotional spots for Drake, Eminem and Nicki Manaj, and his feature credits include Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, Tetro and Twixt, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.
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