Camera Operator: Summer 2022

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SOC.ORG VOL. 31, NO. 3

SUMMER 2022

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

FOR ALL MANKIND • SNOWFALL SOC CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT PRESENTED BY HULU 1


RANGER

O F F - R OA D B A S E

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U.S. WEST COAST: 1-888-80CRANE • U.S. EAST COAST: 1-888-CRANE52 • DIRECT: (941) 492-9175 • CINEMOVES.COM •EMAIL: INFO@CINEMOVES.COM SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS

FEATURES

4 TAKE TWO

6 SOC CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT Presented by Hulu A conversation with Joseph Arena, SOC; Stewart Cantrell, SOC, James Layton, ACO & Kenny Niernberg, SOC Moderated by Michael Bravin

14 SMOOTH OPERATOR by Brian Freesh, SOC

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26 ESTABLISHING SHOT A conversation with Reid Russell, SOC & Jan Ruona, SOC by Kate McCallum

30 CORPORATE CORNER The Studio at B&H

SOC Creative Spotlight A conversation with operators Manolo Rojas, SOC & Pauline Edwards, SOC Hosted by Kristin Petrovich

Insights, Tips & Stories

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22 CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

26 ON THE COVER: James Layton, ACO, with Elle Fanning as Catherine in THE GREAT. Photo by Andrea Pirrello/Hulu

Jessica Miglio, SMPSP

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

Freedom to Fail An conversation with operators Tim Spencer & Mike McEveety by David Daut

22 SNOWFALL

32 ITS

Ray Mickshaw/FX

18 FOR ALL MANKIND

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Courtesy of Apple

Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

SOC Instagram Takeover by Mick Froehlich, SOC

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Society of Camera Operators Membership Dan Gold, Dan Turrett, Gretchen Warthen

Board of Governors OFFICERS

Corporate Members Craig Bauer, George Billinger, Mitch Dubin, Dave Frederick, Simon Jayes, Sarah Levy, Bill McClelland, Jim McConkey, Matt Moriarty, Dale Myrand, Dan Turrett, David Sammons

President George Billinger 1st Vice President Mitch Dubin 2nd Vice President Matthew Moriarty Secretary Daniel Turrett Treasurer Bill McClelland Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Gold

Education Colin Anderson, Will Arnot, Craig Bauer, Bonnie Blake, Dave Chameides, Mitch Dubin, Dave Emmerichs, Mick Froelich, Craig Haagensen, Geoff Haley, Sarah Levy, Simon Jayes, Jim McConkey, Larry McConkey, Matt Moriarty, Jeff Muhlstock, John “Buzz” Moyer, Jamie Silverstein, Dave Thompson, Chris Wittenborn

BOARD MEMBERS George Billinger Mitch Dubin David Emmerichs Michael Frediani Daniel Gold Geoffrey Haley Nikk Hearn-Sutton Bill McClelland Matthew Moriarty John “Buzz” Moyer Sharra Romany David Sammons David Thompson Daniel Turrett Gretchen Warthen

Technical Standards & Technology Eric Fletcher (Chair), Andrew Ansnick, William Arnot, Luke Cormack, David Emmerichs, Steve Fracol, Dan Gold, Jamie Hitchcock, Simon Jayes, Doc Karmen, Mark LaBonge, Rocker Meadows, Matthew Moriarty, John Perry, Manolo Rojas, David Sammons, Lisa Stacilauskas, Gretchen Warthen

COMMITTEES Awards Craig Bauer, George Billinger, Dan Gold, Geoff Haley, April Kelley, Bill McClelland, John “Buzz” Moyer, Dale Myrand, Jan Ruona, Benjamin Spek, Dave Thompson, Rob Vuona

Inclusion Sharra Romany (Cochair), Nikk Hearn-Sutton (Cochair), Olivia Abousaid, Shanele Alvarez, Alfeo Dixon, Pauline Edwards, Alexandra Menapace, Jeremiah Smith, Lisa Stacilauskas, Gretchen Warthen, Mande Whitaker

Charities Brian Taylor, Ryan Campbell Historical Mike Frediani

Social Media & Content Ian S. Takahashi (Chair), Sharra Romany, Gergely Harsanyi, Ryan Lewis, Brandon Hickman, Emily Lien, Agnelia Scuilli, Gloria Bali, Julio Tardaguila

Kenny Niernberg, SOC Kristin Petrovich Manolo Rojas, SOC Jan Ruona, SOC Reid Russell, SOC Tim Spencer

STAFF AND CONSULTANTS

PHOTOGRAPHY

Executive Director Kristin Petrovich Finances Angela Delgado Calligrapher Carrie Ima

CAMERA OPERATOR MAGAZINE Publishing & Executive Editor Kristin Petrovich Art Director Cyndi Wood Studio Liaison & Clearances Kim Fischer Writers David Daut & Kate McCallum Copy Editor Cyndi Wood Social Media Producer Ashlie Sotelo, Your Voice Social Advertising Jeff Victor Video Editor Alex Hemingway

CONTRIBUTORS Ashlie Sotelo Joseph Arena, SOC Michael Bravin Stewart Cantrell, SOC David Daut Pauline Edwards, SOC Brian Freesh, SOC Mick Froehlich, SOC James Layton, ACO Kate McCallum Mike McEveety

Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu Beth Dubber/Hulu Hilary Bronwyn Gayle Ryan Green Justin Lubin, SMPSP Ray Mickshaw/FX Jessica Miglio, SMPSP Gene Page/Hulu Erika Parse Andrea Pirrello/Hulu Allyson Riggs Ueli Steiger, ASC Lacey Terrell Ollie Upton/Hulu Gina Victoria Merie Weismiller Wallace, SMPSP Nicole Wilder

ADVERTISING & SUBSCRIPTIONS Advertising: Membership@SOC.org Digital subscriptions: SOC.org/co Newsletters: SOC.org Camera Operator is a quarterly publication of the Society of Camera Operators

Registered trademark / All rights reserved

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SHAPE WATER Gone Girl

THE OF American Horror Story:DOWNSIZING Freak Show THE POST Birdman iOS MONITORING AT YOUR Sully Only the BraveLa La Land

DARKEST HOUR Animals Nocturnal THE DISASTER ARTISTby the Sea Manchester TechnicalWONDERSTRUCK Achievement Awards

SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


For Geoffrey Haley, Comms is an ‘absolute necessity’

“The Clear-Com wireless headset system is an absolute necessity to my professional survival. Regardless of where in the world my next movie takes me, my Clear-Com headset will always be by my side.” Geoffrey Haley Feature Film Camera Operator on global franchises including Marvel, The Fast and the Furious, Star Trek, Jumanji, Joker, The Gray Man and The Hangover Trilogy

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

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Take Two SOC Instagram Takeover with Mick Froehlich, SOC Hosted by Ashlie Sotelo An SOC Instagram Takeover is an entire week of posts dedicated to a specific camera operator and their work. It gives the operator a chance to connect with the SOC community and provides the SOC with an avenue to further advance the art and craft of the camera operator.

 WATCH THE INSTAGRAM LIVE

Mick Froehlich, SOC—nominee for Camera Operator of the Year in Television for his work on Season 1 of Hawkeye—took over SOC's Instagram for a week in June. In his posts, Froehlich shared behindthe-scenes insights on Hawkeye, tips on family life as a camera operator, and a look back at some of his most memorable handheld action and film projects. Froehlich’s takeover concluded with an Instagram LIVE where he answered questions submitted by the SOC community. He talked about operating handheld on the Technocrane, how genres affect the operator's mood, operating virtual production, family life, and more. Check out SOC’s Instagram @societyofcameraoperators to see the full series of posts, videos, and behind-the-scenes insights and watch the Instagram LIVE.

MICK FROEHLICH, SOC After spending the first six years of his career as camera assistant and operator for multi-camera talk shows and non fiction work, Mick moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue a career as a camera operator for motion pictures. Having worked on projects such as End of Watch, Girls Trip, Hidden Figures, and The Matrix Resurrections, he was most recently was nominated for the SOC Camera Operator of the Year in Television for Marvel’s Hawkeye. Photo by Justin Lubin, SMPSP

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SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


BOLERO THE STATE-OF-THE-ART WIRELESS INTERCOM SYSTEM FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT FILM PRODUCTION

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CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

5 www.riedel.net


SOC Creative Spotlight Presented by Hulu

A conversation with Joseph Arena, SOC; Stewart Cantrell, SOC; James Layton, ACO & Kenny Niernberg, SOC Moderated by Michael Bravin Streaming has changed the game when it comes to television. Not bound by rigid time slots and other conventions of traditional television, streaming opens up doors for new kinds of stories to be told with a more cinematic texture. On June 5, the SOC hosted a conversation with camera operators from some of Hulu’s most popular and critically acclaimed original series to talk about their work: Joseph Arena, SOC: Dopesick Stewart Cantrell, SOC: Only Murders in the Building James Layton, ACO: The Great Kenny Niernberg, SOC: The Dropout

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SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


Multimedia Feature The conversation ranged from anecdotes and advice about getting started in the industry to weighing the pros and cons of new remote operating technologies that have emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The live virtual audience also had the opportunity to bring some of their own questions to this panel of operators and shine a light on issues like the importance of managing crew morale and mental health on a TV or film set. We’d like to thank each of the operators who participated, our moderator Michael Bravin, and everyone who tuned in to join the discussion. ...

Watch the conversation here on SOC.org

 WATCH NOW

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

ENJOY THE SOC CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT FEATURING THE CAMERA OPERATORS OF DOPESICK, ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING, THE GREAT, AND THE DROPOUT

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Courtesy of Joseph Arena

Lacey Terrell

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JOSEPH ARENA, SOC Learn more about Joseph's career and projects at IMDb.com.

SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG

Gene Page/Hulu

 WATCH THE TRAILER


Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

Courtesy of Stewart Cantrell

 WATCH THE TRAILER

Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

STEWART CANTRELL, SOC Learn more about Stewart's career and projects at IMDb.com.

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

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Beth Dubber/Hulu

Merie Weismiller Wallace, SMPSP

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KENNY NIERNBERG, SOC Learn more about Kenny's career and projects at IMDb.com.

SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG

Merie Weismiller Wallace, SMPSP

 WATCH THE TRAILER


Ollie Upton/Hulu

Courtesy of James Layton

 WATCH THE TRAILER

Ollie Upton/Hulu

JAMES LAYTON, ACO Learn more about James' career and projects at IMDb.com.

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

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Courtesy of Michael Bravin

MICHAEL BRAVIN, MODERATOR Michael is a Canon Fellow based at Canon Burbank, Canon’s customer experience and training center. Michael has over 35 years of experience in broadcast, motion picture, and television production, beginning as a producer/director, then later as a technical engineer, educator, and on-set consultant, and then as a technical marketing executive. An early pioneer in the development of digital cinema cameras, lenses, and workflows for the transition from film to digital cinematography, he is a go-to technical resource for the production and post production industry when implementing new technology in the creative space. Michael has a passion for educating and inspiring the next generation of creators and storytellers. He is an Associate Member of the ASC and SOC, a member of SMPTE and HPA, and a founding member of the Digital Cinema Society. Michael lives in Burbank, CA, with his wife and has two grown daughters.

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SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


ALEXA 35 is a native 4K Super 35 camera that elevates digital cinematography to unprecedented heights. With 17 stops of dynamic range, ALEXA 35 can handle more diverse and extreme light conditions, retaining color in the highlights and detail in the shadows, and simplifying post workflows. The new REVEAL Color Science takes full advantage of the sensor’s image quality, while ARRI Textures enhance in-camera creativity. Easy operation, robust build quality, and new accessories round out the ALEXA 35 platform.

www.arri.com/alexa35

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

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Smooth Operator

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

by Brian Freesh, SOC

Brian Freesh, SOC, shooting an episode of GASLIT

“It’s like doing a dance with someone. When you’re with the right partner, something kind of magical happens.” —Margot Robbie A leading shot of a single actor, not more than 30 feet in a straight line. I’ve done it hundreds of times, one more should be cake, right?

To preserve performance, we roll on rehearsal. Sweating every moment and focused intently on using every part of my body to hold frame size, I wince with every shadow, every focus buzz, every little problem in the frame. No problem, shake it off. Take two.

But in this case it’s also a wide close-up, the glass inches from talent’s face. Less than an inch or so outside minimum focus, shadows just outside of frame, etc. . . . and my actor now has to react to a soul-crushing scene while looking through the camera and myself. But I’m going to ask her to walk at a perfectly consistent pace to make it easy for me to match? Not. A. Chance.

As we begin, I just happen to briefly get distracted by the performance. She’s only giving a look, but there is so much inside that look: sadness, shock, a haunting sense of immense loss. I am completely stunned. It’s an absolutely captivating performance.

So with nearly no margin for error, I have to adjust with her subtle speed changes perfectly, or blow the shot. Oof.

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So captivating, it turns out, we’re nearly at the end of the take before I realize we’ve gone more than a step. I nearly flinch, wanting to correct what surely must be a botched shot. But no, somehow the entire shot had been perfect. Cut. Beautiful. Moving on!

SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


TECHNICALLY SPEAKING Back in high school, some career-assessment software determined my ideal career was—I kid you not—technical manual writer. Well, what do dumb computers know anyway? So off to art school I went instead. For the film program, of course, where eventually I fell in love with camera operating. But that career assessment did leave me with a fantastic takeaway: I am extremely technical-minded. So I started to lean into that. I mean, do what you’re good at, right? I became hyper-focused. I took every elective related to camera and/or camera movement. I worked in the equipment checkout, learning the ins and outs of all the gear we had. I practiced with every tool at my disposal: fluid heads, geared head, dollies, Steadicam, and handheld. I studied frames and movement in movies, over-analyzing their technical execution. I volunteered to operate on every student project, to the detriment of my declining grades.

That shot is hardly the most difficult shot ever, but it was a bit of an epiphany for me. I started off so focused on the technical side of things: not too close, not too far, hold horizon, no shadows, don’t hit the actor with the camera, don’t force my AC to hit me with their fist, etc. But in the end, we got that shot on the second take largely because I stopped operating and started simply watching the movie. And that was possible because I’d developed an unspoken synergy with my actor, we’d gotten into a perfect sync, unspoken and unplanned, for at least a few moments. That’s definitely not always easy, and it was only day four of the shoot. But, after dozens of music videos, that kind of thing had become second nature. And now I’d consistently found myself working in narrative, which is great, because that’s why I went to an art school instead of technical-manual-writer school in the first place. (Take that, dumb computer software!) But narrative is a very different world than music videos, at least it is most of the time.

Eventually, I graduated anyway—a five year BFA is standard, right?— and worked at a camera rental house for several years, cementing my technical proficiency with much of the best camera equipment in the industry. Finally I started freelancing as a camera assistant, and from there to camera operator—one who really knew his way around a camera and the gear around it, but somehow, in all those years at art school, had not become an artist (you win this round, dumb, dated career-placement software).

It’s true, though—I don’t listen to it, I don’t even dance. I can’t tell if a note is sharp or flat, still can’t identify a bridge or a hook to save my life, and certainly don’t connect with any music emotionally. But working on music videos suddenly required me to make pretty pictures to go with completely different styles of sounds strung together in ways that meant very little to me so, shock and awe, I didn’t know how to do it. Fortunately, I found a simple workaround: The artists themselves sure do have their own emotional connection to the music, so I learned to ignore the sounds themselves and just focus on the artist’s energy. I could see and, more importantly, feel how the artist was affected by the music and what it meant to them, and I used that to move the camera. Eventually I’d get a sense of the energy and mood of the song and could then move with the music, dance even, mostly letting the artist lead, but sometimes taking over when it felt right. I didn’t realize it yet, but this would become my superpower.

Nicole Wilder

Enter music videos, which—brace yourself—feature . . . music. I know, shock and awe! But to me it sorta was, because I’ve never really been into music. (I know, I know, shock and awe, I’m a monster!)

Brian Freesh, SOC, on the set of DUMMY By sheer chance, my second TV show was a musical. You can’t tell me there is a more perfect transition from music videos to narrative. So for the songs I did my music video thing, and for the bulk of the narrative portions of the show my task was to still bring that musical feeling with the camera, but obviously without music. Sound familiar? Yeah, for me this is the sweet spot, reacting to the emotions of the characters in the scene, unencumbered by so much distracting noise. I knew the script, I knew the actors and they knew me, I knew the characters and what they were experiencing, so I was able to slip into the scene seamlessly. Not just as an operator, but as a participant. Or—if you want to be clichéd about it—as another character.

FINDING SYNERGY

ENHANCING THE STORY

By now you might be curious about the relevance of the earlier shot description. (If you know me personally, you’ve been rolling your eyes.)

When you can detach from the technical side of operating and just watch the movie, you become an engaged audience member, the first

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These moments may be small but they are mighty! They can happen between takes, an understanding between you and your talent, but they mostly happen when the camera is rolling and you’re in the scene, just you and the actor. It becomes a dance, without music, without words. Until the camera cuts you’re the only two telling the story. Too sentimental? Sorry, not sorry.

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

And no, of course it’s not always just you and the actor, in fact most of the time it’s not. Depending on the shot, there is likely a boom operator, dolly grip, crane operator, electrician operating a light, grip holding a bounce, and so on. There’s a team of people behind every shot, no matter the tools you use. Every member of that team is integral to telling the story as best as it can be told. But that connection between you and your actor, particularly your lead, is the heart of that team while the camera is rolling. The stronger that connection, the better the storytelling.

MAKING THE CONNECTION Brian Freesh, SOC, with Channing Tatum on the set of DOG audience member, an actual participant in the scene! There is so much storytelling potential when you have this synergy with your actor. You and your actors can turn a series of basic actions into the emotional core of a scene that brings tears to the eyes of the audience. On one show I had another particularly emotional scene with a character experiencing a major loss. The plan was to do a wide master and then some handheld coverage on two lens sizes. Standard enough, but my lead’s process was to get into the mindset of the character privately and then just go for it, so we didn’t want to waste that by doing the wide first. No problem, first we’d do the long lens handheld close-up on very treacherous ground without blocking . . . . Fortunately, I had a fantastic lead and we had developed a bit of synergy already. Take one was an adventure to be sure, but in the end I felt really good about it and only had minor notes for myself and was preparing to go again when the director came over. He told our lead that he thought she was amazing, that he didn’t think he needed anything else, but we had time and could go again if she wanted. I hoped she did, but alas, she said she was good.

Filmmaking is a collaborative medium across all of the roles on set, and as camera operators we have to be able to communicate effectively with nearly all of those roles, perhaps most chiefly with our talent, especially if we want to gain their trust and learn to trust them. A how-to on gaining trust and building bonds with actors is well beyond the scope of this article—and likely my abilities—but if you’re not strongly empathic and don’t happen to be your actor’s type or something, then you might be wondering how to build a connection in the first place. More often than not, it’s just recognizing a lucky opportunity. I once spent a grand total of an hour with an intimidatingly big celebrity. Right when he arrived, another actor asked about Steadicam and the celebrity claimed he’d been around when they were introduced. I knew that to be false and, very warmly, gave him a Steadicam history lesson, which sort of blew his mind. Boom! Trust gained. I even sent a greeting from him to an operator he used to work with a lot but hadn’t seen in decades.

And just like that we moved on to the wide. Insanity.

Another lucky bond was with a guest star who was largely in their own world, often not into what we were doing. I happened to have worked with them for maybe two hours the year before, though we didn’t meet. But on day one of their guest role, I introduced myself by mentioning the previous project. Their eyes lit up! We chatted about that project at length and boom, trust. From then on, anytime I needed them, they were there with a smile, no waiting.

She and I received many a pat on the back for that—as did my dolly grip and focus puller, rightfully so—but what really made that work so well was the ability for my actor and I to move together to tell that story better than we could have planned. There’s magic in that that manifests in small ways. Like when you start gently adjusting the camera to get a little more into their eyes, and they feel it and open for you. Or when they do something new and open a bit to show it to you, but then you reach for it so they don’t have to compromise.

Obviously you won’t always get a lucky break. But the good news is actors, even celebrities, are just people like anyone else. I got lucky in these examples, but I also treated those celebrities like I would treat meeting someone casually at a bar. It’s easy to be intimidated by someone’s status, especially when starting out in this industry, and we’re also trained to revere actors at all times, treat them as royalty. But underneath that they’re collaborators, too, and most of them appreciate being treated like regular people.

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SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


Allyson Riggs

Brian Freesh, SOC, on the set of ALL TOGETHER NOW

There are any number of ways to connect with someone and gain their trust. As almost everyone who’s ever tried socializing can attest, every person is different, every show is different, which means making every connection is different. Your needs and your actor’s needs are going to be different. It’s important not to force it, and it’s important not to impede other important set relationships. You absolutely want to gain trust with those you need to, but you don’t want to push past boundaries. Read the room, know when to speak up, and absolutely know when not to. But when all that is done and you’re about to roll, you and your talent are scene partners and you need to be able to trust each other implicitly to create and grow a synergistic connection. Because when we let go of the details and just flow in the scene together, the storytelling becomes pure, maybe even magic. If you are fortunate to have a like-minded actor—and I find that most of them are—then you’re connecting before you even meet and are all but destined to be great dance partners. May your dance card always be full. Yes, it’s sentimental. Get over it and go make magic!

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

Courtesy of Brian Freesh

For example, I filled in for another operator on the last couple of weeks of a months-long show where every cast and crew member knew and trusted each other, and I was an outsider. Our lead was one of the hardest-working team players I’ve ever met. Just before our first big Steadicam shot I told her not to worry because I hadn’t put an actor in the hospital in weeks! Got a great laugh and boom, trust. Later in the shoot she had a tight squeeze between me and a wall for a shot and turned it around. She told me not to worry, it had been a few weeks since she’d put an operator in the hospital! You can feel free to be funnier than me, but you get the idea, we were just a couple of normal people.

BRIAN FREESH, SOC Brian Freesh, SOC, is a camera and Steadicam operator who swears he doesn’t hate music and has grown quite an appreciation for it, thanks to his career. Though he often wonders if he should have been an engineer of some sort, or astronomer, or maybe even an astrophysicist (dream big, kids!) Realistically, he suspects he’s not smart enough for those, anyway, and would probably have just ended up writing technical manuals instead. Brian has worked on shows such as Dummy, Station Eleven, and Gaslit, as well as movies including Wander Darkly, Dog, and the upcoming Babylon. He also works in commercials and probably operated on at least one of your favorite music videos.

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For All Mankind Freedom to Fail

An interview with Tim Spencer & Mike McEveety By David Daut

 WATCH THE TRAILER On the set of FOR ALL MANKIND. Photo courtesy of Apple

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“What are we saying here?” That’s the question that motivated the camera operating team of Tim Spencer and Mike McEveety in their work on For All Mankind, for which they were nominated for Camera Operators of the Year in Television.

TECH ON SE EwTith

IC Sony VEN tension Rialto Ex System

Set in an alternate history where the Soviets beat the United States to the Moon, For All Mankind explores the question of “what if the space race never ended?” For All Mankind was created by Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi and is streaming on Apple TV+. The series highlights characters who have to navigate the turbulent waters of politics and foreign relations as they attempt to push humanity toward the stars, taking risks, knowing they might fail, knowing they might make enemies, but knowing that the risk is worth it. Though the stakes of a television production are not necessarily as dramatic as the looming threat of nuclear war, that freedom to take chances creatively—the leeway to potentially fail and then try again—is crucial to achieving something of real worth. In their conversation with Camera Operator, Spencer and McEveety went deep into both the benefits and the potential pitfalls of modern filmmaking technology. As much as these developments have unlocked new opportunities to tell new types of stories, there is risk in letting that technology get in the way of creative problemsolving and a collaborative spirit. As with the progression of time in the series, technology marches ever onward, but when it comes to telling stories about humanity, we humans must continue to find a way to work together.

...

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

Read the story here on SOC.org 19


Courtesy of Apple

On the set of FOR ALL MANKIND

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Courtesy of Apple Courtesy of Apple

On the set of FOR ALL MANKIND

On the set of FOR ALL MANKIND

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 WATCH THE TRAILER

Snowfall SOC Creative Spotlight A conversation with Manolo Rojas, SOC & Pauline Edwards, SOC Hosted by Kristin Petrovich Snowfall, FX’s crime saga set in Los Angeles against the backdrop of the crack epidemic, weaves together a tapestry of stories from characters whose lives are affected by the drug—whether that’s dealer-turned-kingpin Franklin Saint or CIA operative Teddy McDonald working undercover in Mexican cartels to root out communism in Central America. Snowfall was created by John Singleton, Eric Amado, and Dave Andron and stars Damson Idris, Carter Hudon, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Michael Hyatt, Amin Joseph, Angela Lewis, and Isaiah John. From left, Damson Idris as Franklin Saint and Sergio Peris-Mencheta as Gustavo Zapata in SNOWFALL. Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FX

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SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


Multimedia Feature In this Camera Operator conversation, Manolo Rojas, SOC, and TECH ONwSitEhTRialto Pauline Edwards, SOC—the camera operating team for Snowfall’s ICE Sony VEN fourth season—talk about their histories in the film business, what tage One m • Van e t s y S n iss Super Extensio –4) • Ze led them to their work on Snowfall, and how the diverse crew for 1 s e d o is owa s (Ep Speed, K T1 Lense rd a d n a t this series became its own sort of family that stood out from many eiss S 0) • DJI Speed, Z odes 5–1 is p (E r / a min of the sets they’ve worked on in the past. Chapman Cine Pro Heads • Remote apman/ Ronin 2 r IV & Ch le t s u H Leonard ollies Peewee D rd a n o e L

Also highlighted in this conversation is the chemistry and trust that’s required between operator and DP, how distancing protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic ironically brought them closer as an operating team, and what it meant for them to be recognized as the 2022 Camera Operators of the Year in Television. ...

Watch the conversation here on SOC.org

 WATCH NOW 

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

MANOLO ROJAS, SOC & PAULINE EDWARDS, SOC, INTRODUCE THE SOC CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT CONVERSATION ABOUT SNOWFALL 23


Gina Victoria Ray Mickshaw/FX

Manolo Rojas, SOC, and Pauline Edwards, SOC, shooting SNOWFALL.

From left, Carter Hudson as Teddy McDonald and Damson Idris as Franklin Saint

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A Lens for Every Shot.

ZEISS Supreme Prime Lenses

Introducing the ZEISS Supreme Prime 15mm Lens With 14 focal lengths from 15 mm to 200 mm, the ZEISS Supreme Prime lenses unite coverage up to Full Frame and beyond with a high speed aperture in a small, lightweight lens. Their look is characterized by a gentle sharpness and a very smooth transition between the in-focus and out-of-focus areas. The Supreme Primes give the creator absolute control over the image by revealing subtle nuanced details in deep shadows and bright highlights. For more information: www.zeiss.com/cine/supremeprime


Establishing Shot

Ueli Steiger, ASC

An Interview with Reid Russell, SOC & Jan Ruona, SOC by Kate McCallum

Reid Russell, SOC, on horseback for NOMAD: THE WARRIOR

This year, the nominees for the SOC Camera Operator of the Year in Television featured teams of operators for the first time in the history of the awards. Reid Russell, SOC, and B camera operator Jan Ruona, SOC, were nominated for their outstanding work on Blindspotting, Season 1, Episode 1, “The Ordeal.” Camera Operator reached out to learn more about their backgrounds and how they came to work together on this series. Camera Operator: Congratulations on your nominations! We’d like to learn more about you both. Where did you come from, what was your education, and how did you get involved in operating?

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Reid Russell, SOC: I was born in New York, and from the age of seven I grew up in the South Shore of Boston. I had dreamed of being a camera operator since my youth. I was absorbed with using my camcorder for shooting fake commercials and experimenting with stop-frame animation, as well as documenting family vacations and activities. In junior high I chose doing video projects over essays, and in high school I volunteered at our local cable access channel as a camera operator. I graduated with a BS in communications from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a certificate in film. In 1993 I moved to Lake Tahoe and worked for Fall Line Films, where I shot and edited 16mm snowboard and wakeboard movies. I also operated for MTV Sports, ESPN2, and worked on the travel show Passport to Adventure for PBS. I was the videographer for Inside Tahoe, which aired on loop on the local tourism cable station. I was responsible for videotaping all the mountain and lakeside activities and commercials for the sponsoring

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restaurants. I shot and edited the weekly ski report for Sacramento and Bay area news as well. I moved to Los Angeles in 1999, joined the IATSE Local 600 and worked my way from loader, 2nd AC, 1st AC, and finally camera operator again. A couple of years later I invested in a Steadicam and have been at it since 2008.

Ruona: As an assistant, being hired on The Game by David Fincher and shot by Harris Savides, ASC, felt like the first real break into Hollywood filmmaking. Later came Life of Pi by Ang Lee and shot by Caudio Miranda, ASC, in Taiwan, India, and Canada. Every chance to work with top-level filmmakers and technicians felt like a huge achievement.

Camera Operator: What do you each consider you first big break?

Erica Parse

Russell: My first big break operating came when I was working as the key 2nd AC on the feature film Nomad: The Warrior in Kazakhstan. Billy O’Drobinak, SOC, was the A camera operator and was leaving to witness the birth of his son. There was a POV shot from horseback and I had a good idea of how to pull it off, having been raised with horses since I was seven years old. Billy O’ recommended me to the director, Ivan Passer, and after providing a test I was crouching like a jockey holding an ARRI III crystal base with both hands while a stuntman sat behind, his arms wrapped around me holding the reins as we galloped off to engage with the other actors and stuntmen on horseback battling in a nomadic game called kokpar. The footage made the cut and that solidified my urge to press onward to being a Local 600 operator.

Reid Russell, SOC, with Helen Hunt

CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

Courtesy of Jan Ruona

Jan Ruona, SOC: I grew up in the Bay Area. Both my father and grandfather were engineers who also had still cameras and a Super 8 camera that I got to play with as child. I was fortunate to go to a high school that was a magnet school for communications and had a radio station and television production classes. This allowed me to always find a way to get behind a lens. I received a BA in independent film from San Francisco State University. I started working in the camera department on documentaries and small independent art films while finishing my degree. The film work in Northern California was circuit of commercials, industrials, and music videos. It was when I started working on feature films that I realized I should move to Los Angeles to get an opportunity to move up. Now after twenty-plus years in camera, I’ve worked my way up from assistant to operator. Jan Ruona, SOC Camera Operator: Who were your mentors along the way? Russell: Ueli Steiger, ASC, my main mentor and friend to this day, is the one who convinced me to move to Los Angeles after showing him my 16mm sports action reel. I started as his camera intern on The Patriot 2nd unit and climbed all the rungs of the camera department ladder under his tutelage. Amy Vincent, ASC, was also a big influence in my early days as well as recently. Joaquin Sedillo, ASC, gave me my first job operating A camera on the feature Sherman’s Way as well as my first TV show as B camera/Steadicam right after the writers’ strike ended. Carlos Gonzales moved me up from 1st AC to A camera operator on the Nickelodeon show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. I also learned a great deal from Dan Kneece, SOC, and Gary Camp, who is like a brother. I also have to acknowledge 1st ACs Jamie Felz, Jaime Stephens, Cheli Clayton, and Penny Sprague. They were not only amazing focus pullers but also great leaders and so pleasant to work with as I was coming up. Ruona: Working with Patrick McArdle up in San Francisco, I learned many valuable lessons about how to navigate not only the camera department but also the set. After moving to Los Angeles I was fortunate to work with Jeff Jur, ASC, who not only moved me up to 1st AC on Carnivale but then moved me up to full-time operator on Lodge 49. Don Devine, SOC, was Jeff’s A operator. So for years I was fortunate enough to work with Don as his first AC and then additional operator on additional units he shot. Throughout my assisting career I had been privileged to work with outstanding operators like David Thompson, SOC, who taught me how to quietly help guide the storytelling process but also how to embrace the beauty of chaos.

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Camera Operator: How did you end up working together on Blindspotting? Russell: First AC Ian Barbella had recommended me to Tarin Anderson for a commercial as we were getting back to work after the industry-wide shut down. After that four-day commercial, Tarin asked me to do Blindspotting Season 1.

Courtesy of Jan Ruona

Ruona: Luck. I had done some work with our DP Tarin Anderson on Vida, so I guess she thought I would be a good fit for the Blindspotting crew. Tarin, Reid, and I discussed the look of the show and listened to each other on set to help complement one another.

Jan Ruona, SOC Russell: To continue doing the greatest job on set yet. Doing more features and/or projects that have compelling stories that challenge me is what I’m focusing on now. Courtesy of Reid Russell

Ruona: Action Films . . . or a musical . . . or sci-fi . . . or whatever project that presents interesting opportunities.

Camera Operator: Could you share any specifics on how you work together? Your collaborative work style? Russell: Once we discussed the look and tone of the show, Jan and I ran with Tarin’s ideas and honed the visual rules with each other. Jan and I were always checking up on each other and discussing our shots, how they would cut together, and what improvements we could make to drive the story or punctuate a moment. Ruona: Communication. Reid and I are able to watch and listen. For example, after a scene is blocked, we bring our ideas and insights to one another. We work on our cameras complementing one another helping Tarin and the director to flesh out their vision. Camera Operator: What are you doing now? Russell: Just day playing since wrapping Season 2 of Blindspotting. However, there is a feature on the horizon that would bring my mentor Ueli out of retirement to do one last movie with his mentor, Oscarwinner Eugenio Zanetti. That would feel pretty special and mean another trip to Argentina. Ruona: Just finished Season 2 of Blindspotting. Camera Operator: Any particular goals for the future?

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Reid Russell, SOC, began his career living in Lake Tahoe and traveling the world shooting 16mm snowboard and wakeboard films as well as the travel show Passport to Adventure on PBS. These adventurous projects took Reid to Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and France. After relocating to Los Angeles he continued his journey in the camera department, working in such places as Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Argentina. He continues to work as A camera/Steadicam on features, commercials, and television shows.

JAN RUONA, SOC Jan Ruona, SOC, started her career working in San Francisco loading film and assisting camera on independent films and commercials. She worked hard to move up the ranks as a camera assistant and began working as an operator in both feature and television. Her credits include productions such as Milk, Ender’s Game, Mad Men, Fences, Jurassic World, What Men Want, Respect, and Paper Girls.

SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG

Jessica Miglio, SMPSP

Reid Russell, SOC

Courtesy of Reid Russell

REID RUSSELL, SOC


CINE GEAR EXPO Atlanta OCT 7-8

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CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

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Corporate Corner Shift Dynamics: Bringing New Creative Energy to Nashville’s Production Scene film industry in Music City. Whether it’s a car-to-car shoot with Mitsubishi or a robot project with the NFL, no vision is too big. “Shift Dynamics was created from our fascination with camera movement and what it does for the viewer,” founder Kirk Slawek explains. “We wanted to build a specialized inventory that was accessible for the industry to take projects to the next level, and our collaboration with The Studio at B&H has helped us reach new heights to find the best cinema technology resources for our work.” Located minutes from downtown Nashville, Shift Dynamics houses an inventory of top-tier gear including Leitz Thalia and Zoom lenses, ARRI Alexa Mini LF, Sony VENICE 2, and soon, the new Alexa 35. With the ability to build custom packages and plans, it’s truly every camera operator’s dream. Each project worked on brings a new challenge to shape a solution and package that fits unique needs and visions. “As a DP and operator, having the tools, resources, and expertise at Shift Dynamics in Nashville relieves so much stress and lets me focus on the project,“ says Gear Seven DP Justin Wylie. “Their boutique-style inventory brings capable tools and their team is dedicated to finding the best solutions to problems that come up.” Courtesy of Ryan Green

Visit shiftdynamics.co for full equipment inventory and to check out past projects.

Sony VENICE 2 and Leitz Thalia ready to go during a Shift Dynamics shoot.

Located in Nashville, Shift Dynamics provides custom camera solutions through cutting-edge technology and a team with years of experience. With pursuit vehicles, robotics, and an exclusive inventory of camera packages, they seek to support productions of all sizes, styles, and budgets. Collaborating with sister companies Gear Seven, a Nashville-based production company, and Arc Studios, a virtual production studio, Shift Dynamics is setting a new standard for the

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Courtesy of Ryan Green

Pushing creative limits and solving problems through premium cinema technology? Sounds like Shift Dynamics.

Justin Wylie, Gear Seven DP, setting up a Sony VENICE 2 for a robotic shoot at Arc Studios.

SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


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CAMERA OPERATOR SUMMER 2022

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ITS: Insights,Tips & Stories Video excerpts from SOC Active members sharing personal insights into camera operating, tips learned during their careers, and stories from the set.

Breaking Down Scenes Instinctively

Practice Makes Perfect

Camera operator Kenny Niernberg, SOC, says that for the experienced camera operator, breaking down a scene and covering the shots is powered by instinct.

Camera operator Jan Ruona, SOC, shares inspirational advice from her father on the importance of practicing: “perfect practice makes perfect.”

Tips on Day Playing

Working with Stand-ins

Camera operator Bonnie Blake, SOC, provides tips on day playing as an operator, including the importance of listening and connecting with the camera crew.

Camera operator Mitch Dubin, SOC, discusses the role of standins in executing a shot and how important it is for the operator to communicate with them.

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SOCIETY OF CAMERA OPERATORS · SOC.ORG


Being a member of the Society of Camera Operators gives you access to the Camera Operating Series in partnership with AFI; priority and discounts on training; invitations to events and screenings; over seventy hours of videos; members only mentorship program. JOIN NOW

The Society offers multiple levels of membership: Active, Associate, Student, Educator, and Corporate. For a full description of benefits, costs, and qualifications, visit soc.org/membership.

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