287 episodes

The Cinematography Podcast is the program about the art, craft and philosophy of the moving image and the people who make it happen. Your job title doesn't have to be cinematographer to be featured on the show. We interview a wide variety of filmmakers including, actors, directors, producers, production designers, editors, storyboard artists and those in related filmmaking careers. This is not a film school, more like a professionally produced radio program found on NPR, each episode brings an interesting perspective to an often overlooked and widely misunderstood craft. Recorded in Hollywood, California at the world headquarters of Hot Rod Cameras. Hosted by Ben Rock and Illya Friedman.

The Cinematography Podcast The Cinematography Podcast

    • TV & Film

The Cinematography Podcast is the program about the art, craft and philosophy of the moving image and the people who make it happen. Your job title doesn't have to be cinematographer to be featured on the show. We interview a wide variety of filmmakers including, actors, directors, producers, production designers, editors, storyboard artists and those in related filmmaking careers. This is not a film school, more like a professionally produced radio program found on NPR, each episode brings an interesting perspective to an often overlooked and widely misunderstood craft. Recorded in Hollywood, California at the world headquarters of Hot Rod Cameras. Hosted by Ben Rock and Illya Friedman.

    Talk to Me cinematographer Aaron McLisky, ACS

    Talk to Me cinematographer Aaron McLisky, ACS

    The Cinematography Podcast Episode 232: Aaron McLisky

    Cinematographer Aaaron McLisky is thrilled that Talk to Me, a small Australian independent horror film, has found such a huge audience. It has become A24's highest grossing horror movie in North America. The movie is about a group of friends who discover how to become possessed by spirits with an embalmed hand, creating a thrilling party game. The main character, Mia, has recently lost her mother, and her grief makes the idea of finding her mom on the other side both compelling and dangerous. But soon, the supernatural forces can't be controlled any longer.

    Aaron had heard rumors about the Talk to Me script and was intrigued to find out more about the project when directors Danny and Michael Philippou direct messaged him on Instagram. The twin brothers had no feature film experience, but are self-taught YouTube filmmakers. Their channel, RackaRacka is huge, and features a series of horror/comedy shorts completely shot and edited by Danny and Michael.

    During the development and pre-production of Talk to Me, Aaron and the brothers discussed how they wanted the film to look cinematically and frequently workshopped and filmed sequences. Aaron always wants to elevate the story through cinematography, making sure that every frame and every camera movement speaks to a world that's truthful to the characters. He wanted to be sure that the camera work elevated the tone of the horror movie, by showing or withholding information as needed. As a former editor, Aaron constantly thinks about editing- how certain sequences will go together and how much coverage might really be needed. Once production started, he found it exciting to be bold, keeping coverage of each scene minimal, and confident that they didn't need more. He kept scenes lit with practical lighting and green fluorescents as much as possible, making Mia seem sickly and possessed. During the possession scenes, Aaron chose to contrast the sequences with unmotivated lighting, and as Mia's psychological decay progresses, the film subtly becomes darker and more desaturated in the grade.

    Aaron was born in Australia but lived in Indonesia for much of his childhood. He fell in love with photography there and knew he wanted to study film, so he returned to Australia. After completing his degree, he got a job at a production company as an editor, eventually moving into directing commercials and music videos, but he didn't enjoy it. Aaron found he was always more interested in visual images as a storyteller, so he decided to start over as a cinematographer. He was fortunate enough to shoot a music video for YouTube stars, The Bondi Hipsters, who then asked him to be the cinematographer for their television series. Aaron also served as the primary cinematographer of the FX series, Mr. Inbetween.

    Talk to Me is still playing in theaters and is available to purchase on VOD.

    Find Aaron McLisky: Instagram: @aaronmclisky

    Close Focus: The Union Solidarity Coalition has created an auction to assist crew members who are struggling during the WGA/SAG strike.

    Ben's short end: Friend Ed (Eduardo) Sánchez directed a short called El Vampiro, as part of a horror anthology called a href="https://satanichispanicsfilm.

    • 49 min
    Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty cinematographer Todd Banhazl, ASC

    Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty cinematographer Todd Banhazl, ASC

    The Cinematography Podcast Episode 231: Todd Banhazl

    When cinematographer Todd Banhazl, ASC was hired by creator Adam McKay for Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, he knew he wanted to capture the look and feel of TV broadcasts from the 70's for season 1. As the timeline of the show moved into the mid-80's in season 2, Todd wanted to embrace the gloss and glamour of the era, with more dynamic camera moves on the court.

    Perhaps the most striking aspect of Winning Time is its signature look. The show integrates and embraces the camera formats used during each time period in the show. They used 8mm and 16mm film and for season 2, VHS-C camcorders. Each scene was also always covered with two 35mm cameras, so that the period look of Winning Time doesn't weigh on the viewer too much. The series is based on the book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.” McKay and Todd wanted the show to be as loud, bold and maximalist as the personality of Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

    Todd and McKay tested the different camera looks for months before shooting the pilot, and they fell in love with mixing the formats. Todd made a look book approved by HBO, and shot the pilot that way. Next, they had to figure out the editing and post process, to make sure that the look stayed dirty- they wanted film grain, hairs and video imperfections to stay in and even be emphasized. Todd thinks they found the line where the look doesn't overwhelm the story. He enjoys creating art where the form and the way it's made is part of the emotional experience.

    For Todd, finding crew is much like a casting process. A TV shooting schedule requires finding people who you can trust and rely on. When it came time to find other cinematographers, he wanted to hire artists that he respected for their work, and he wanted his fellow DPs to be able to put their own stamp on the show. John chose to work with Mihai Mălaimare Jr. (a former guest of the Cinepod) for season 1 and John Matysiak (also a former guest) for season 2. He has always admired Mihai's work, and Todd felt that he and John had the same taste.

    In season 2 of Winning Time, Todd had the chance to direct episode 3, “The Second Coming,” which tells Larry Bird's backstory. The episode also deals with Larry Bird's father's suicide, and he and the crew had a lot of conversations about how to be deeply respectful and responsible about portraying an event that really happened. Even though there has been some criticism of the show by a few of the real people portrayed in Winning Time, Todd feels that their job on the series is to treat the real-life characters with humanity and empathy.

    Todd grew up in the suburbs of San Dimas, and he knew he always wanted to work in the movies. As a kid, he made home movies all through junior high and high school. He studied film at San Jose State, where he became the class's defacto cameraman. After film school, he went to AFI graduate school where he realized that cinematography was the career he wanted. Todd worked his way up, shooting music videos, camera assisting, and then becoming a director of photography. Blow the Man Down, a critically acclaimed feature he DPd, won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival. Todd was also the cinematographer for 2019's Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez.

    You can watch Winning Time streaming on Max.

    Find a href="https://www.toddbanhazldp.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Killing It cinematographer Judd Overton

    Killing It cinematographer Judd Overton

    The Cinematography Podcast Episode 230: Judd Overton

    Killing It is a satiric comedy on Peacock starring Craig Robinson as Craig Foster, an aspiring entrepreneur struggling to start his business. The show pokes fun at the absurdities of American capitalism, class, race, health care, and how it's all stacked against the little guy.

    Cinematographer Judd Overton shot all episodes of Killing It for both season one and season two. His approach to shooting the comedy has always been to keep it relatable and naturalistic, even though the characters are going through things that might seem ridiculous. With three cameras, it was also important to create a space for the actors to do their best work- they would often improvise and try to sharpen their jokes on set. Shooting with longer lenses gave them room to move. The composition and lighting also have to play together for the humor to hit. Each of the characters in Killing It have their own episode, and the lighting is influenced by the places they're in, such as a strip club or a huge mansion. Judd feels that planning is essential, and he had to think on his feet to be able to change blocking or the time of day a scene was shot. One scene in Killing It from season two required a lot of stunt work and fight scene blocking in an automotive chop shop, but the comedy beats weren't working. Without the comedy beats, the fight scene just wasn't going to play. They had to stop, reblock and shoot again to work out how to make it feel funny.

    Judd grew up in the outback of rural Australia, and his family would buy VHS movies for entertainment and watch them over and over. The kids would then reenact the movies, filming it with a camcorder, and edit them together. Growing up in the driest permanently inhabited place on earth meant that documentary crews would frequently come through, and Judd would go and watch them work. It inspired him to become a cinematographer, so he learned photography in high school and then became a camera assistant through the Australian Cinematography Society. He later attended the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), won several awards for his student work and started getting offers to DP on larger films.

    Judd's next project is a feature film called Totally Killer, a slasher comedy that will be the closing night film at Fantastic Fest in Austin. It releases October 6th on Amazon Prime.

    You can watch Killing It streaming on Peacock.

    Find Judd Overton: Instagram: @juddovertondp

    Close Focus: Highlights about the Venice Film Festival, featuring some films from problematic directors such as Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Luc Besson.

    Ben's short end: A new AI tool called Metaphysic is being used in director Robert Zemeckis' upcoming movie, Here. Metaphysic does generative real time AI de-aging, such as the Tom Cruise deepfakes. However, the company is ethical and has a partnership with the talent agency CAA, so that every actor owns their own AI likeness.

    Illya's short end: Marvel is promoting season 2 of Loki and releasing season 1 on a 4K Blu-ray DVD, with lots of extras.

    Listen to Ben's new horror series a href="https://www.audible.

    Director Alex Winter on his documentary, The YouTube Effect

    Director Alex Winter on his documentary, The YouTube Effect

    The Cinematography Podcast Episode 229: Alex Winter

    It's an "All Things YouTube and the Creator Economy" episode! We welcome returning guest, director Alex Winter whose latest documentary is The YouTube Effect. You may know Alex Winter for his role as Bill in the Bill & Ted movies, but these days he's an accomplished documentary filmmaker. Many of Alex's films explore the role of technology in our society, such as Downloaded, about the rise and fall of Napster, to Deep Web, about the online black market Silk Road.

    The YouTube Effect explores the origins of the website, which began in 2005, and its rapid growth into one of the most powerful media platforms today. Interviews with early YouTube creators such as Anthony Padilla of the channel Smosh, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, and former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki are featured in the movie. The documentary also dives into the many layers of controversy around YouTube, both good and evil. As a free, easy to use public platform with little to no regulation, YouTube is a forum open to all, inspiring the Arab Spring protests and Black Lives Matter movement. But as we've seen in recent years, YouTube also spreads propaganda and can radicalize vulnerable people to dangerous causes.

    Coming from the world of film, director Alex Winter sees both similarities and differences between the creator economy of YouTube vs. the traditional media economy. He thinks that the entertainment industry has made a mistake in trying to monetize in similar ways to YouTube. The shift into streaming by media companies hasn't monetized well for anyone, nor is it sustainable- hence the current WGA and SAG strike. Both industries currently find themselves at a crossroads: they need to balance valuing money over the well-being of the workers/creators, and for YouTube's part, to allow regulation in order to stop actual harm to our society.

    YouTube is a public forum owned and controlled by one of the biggest corporations in the world- Google- with 4.6 billion views a day. People can watch all of their news, all their entertainment, all their TV, even all of our recorded human history there. It's both a search engine and the largest media conglomerate on earth. And the creator economy continues to thrive. As The YouTube Effect points out, by allowing people to simply add their own content, there's no barrier to entry to get started on YouTube. Ad dollars are attached to how many views the content receives. The downside is that YouTube creators feel the grind to constantly make content, because they'll get replaced instantly by someone else.

    We're in a new phase of YouTube's power, Alex notes, which includes monetizing disinformation and propaganda. YouTube provides no guardrails and no standards and practices for what is posted on the site, and very little on the site is monitored or taken down. As a monopoly, the company has no competition and very little incentive to delete content. As he explores in The YouTube Effect, channels such as Prager University- a right-wing non-accredited online “school”- is heavily funded by dark money, promoting conservative agendas. This disinformation will spread quickly- the Florida Board of Education has just approved PragerU Kids videos to be shown in K-12 schools.

    Alex believes that YouTube needs regulation to prevent the spread of dangerous propaganda that's funded by ideological interests with deep pockets.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie cinematographers C. Kim Miles, Clair Popkin and Julia Liu

    Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie cinematographers C. Kim Miles, Clair Popkin and Julia Liu

    The Cinematography Podcast Episode 228: C. Kim Miles, Clair Popkin and Julia Liu

    Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie explores the life of actor Michael J. Fox in his own words. It's a moving and heartfelt documentary as he talks about his rise to fame in the 1980's with the TV show Family Ties, the Back to the Future movies, and what his life is like living with Parkinson's Disease. Fox's story is told with personal interviews, archival footage and reenactments.

    Cinematographers C. Kim Miles, Julia Liu and Clair Popkin all worked separately on different portions of Still, and all three are Emmy-nominated for their work on the documentary. Julia served as the primary DP for the interviews with Fox, discussing the look with director Davis Guggenheim. They storyboarded the interviews, including shots and lighting, with ideas for moods to evoke different parts of Michael's life. Guggenheim wanted most of the interviews to feel like they were locked off, just like the title. It provided a contrast to the archival footage, where Fox is incredibly acrobatic and frenetic.The interview and b-roll of present-day portions of Fox's life were not completely verite- Julia would approach each action with a plan, and do a few takes.

    DP Clair Popkin joined the team when Still already had edited raw assemblies of scenes with archival footage cut in. It provided him with a clear idea of how to match and transition interview scenes in and out of the archival video clips. Clair had worked with Guggenheim on several documentary projects in the past, and he was able to step in and shoot the interview portions Julia wasn't available for.

    Finally, cinematographer C. Kim Miles shot all of the reenactment portions of Still. He met with Guggenheim, who he considers to be the king of planning, but also flexible enough to shoot off the cuff on the day. Since the reenactments came in at the end of the process, Kim found it tremendously helpful to see the rough cut and match the look. He was able to create a softer, more idyllic look for Fox's past memories. Kim and the crew spent 20 days shooting the reenactments, and Fox personally thanked everyone for their part in telling his story.

    For both Julia and Clair, it was very exciting to work with Fox. It was not just a job- everyone was also a fan, and Julia was thrilled to meet him. Clair felt so much joy and positivity from Michael J. Fox, who was also a consummate professional.

    Find Julia Liu: @jucliu

    Find Clair Popkin: @clairpopkin

    Find C. Kim Miles: @kimiles

    Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie is currently on AppleTV+

    Close Focus: Bradley Cooper's prosthetic nose in Maestro, the upcoming biopic about Leonard Bernstein, has been criticized. The Anti-Defamation League declared Cooper's nose acceptable.

    • 42 min
    Black Bird cinematographer Natalie Kingston

    Black Bird cinematographer Natalie Kingston

    The Cinematography Podcast Episode 227: Natalie Kingston

    The Apple TV+ series Black Bird is cinematographer Natalie Kingston's first experience shooting a television show. As the sole DP for the 6-episode series, she enjoyed the ability to create the look of Black Bird from scratch and maintain it throughout the nearly 100 day shoot. Her hard work has paid off with an Outstanding Cinematography Emmy nomination for the episode, “Hand to Mouth.”

    Black Bird is based on a true story about Jimmy Keene, who is sentenced to 10 years in a high-security prison on drug dealing charges. He's given a chance of a fully commuted sentence and a clean record if he can befriend and obtain a confession from convicted serial killer and rapist Larry Hall. Acclaimed crime writer Dennis Lehane wrote all the scripts for Black Bird, and he allowed the actors and crew some creative freedom with their lines and storytelling.

    With multiple directors, Natalie was responsible for maintaining the integrity of the visual language in Black Bird. She chose to keep the camera work visceral, grounded and non-judgemental, with only purposeful camera movement. On other projects, she had always operated the camera as well, but because of the scope and hours of material to shoot, Natalie found it was more efficient for her to step back and allow the camera operators to handle the bulk of the camera work. It was a completely new way of working to stay behind the monitor, but it became a collaborative effort with the rest of the camera crew.

    Natalie grew up in Louisiana, making up her own home movies with her parent's camcorder and checking out children's stage play books from the library. She knew she definitely wanted to do something in the movies. Cinematography specifically became her passion because she enjoyed being on set and in charge of making someone think and feel a certain way. After college, she got a job at a local TV station, where she created her own documentary show, learning how to shoot, edit and build the fundamentals of telling a story. After that, Natalie began working on small local productions to pay the bills, building up to documentary films and features in Louisiana.

    Find Natalie Kingston: Instagram: @nataliekingston

    Black Bird is currently on AppleTV+

    Close Focus: AMPTP had come to the table with a few concessions to the Writers Guild. But the WGA hasn't agreed to any concessions yet.

    Ben's short end: The editing system AVID is being acquired by a private equity firm for 1.4 billion dollars.

    Illya's short end: Behind the Brand podcast with Bryan Elliot.

    Listen to Ben's new horror series Catchers, available NOW only on Audible!

    Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras

    Sponsored by ARRI: ARRI has a virtual volume stage in London, where a Chemical Brothers music video/...

    • 58 min

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