ICG Magazine - April 2022 - New Technology

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EMERGENCY Photos by Quantrell Colbert / Amazon Studios

ICG Magazine: This film attacks race relations with both laugh-out-loud comedy and terrifying drama, sometimes within the same scene. Why this world to tell your story? Carey Williams: I was servicing a great script that KD Davila wrote. But as a director, I always have to be 100 percent invested and have a North Star. When I first did this as a short [Sundance 2018], I didn’t know who the characters of Sean and Kunle were. It was more about turning a serious situation on its head with comedy. But the feature needed to resonate with people for more than 90 minutes, and it was clear to me the core element was this young Black male friendship. On top of that was the space to explore varying opinions among Black people over a given subject, as well as to show young Black men that it’s okay to show vulnerability. There’s so much fear and anxiety around all of these things, and it was exciting for me to delve into these finer nuances of friendship, race, manhood, et cetera in this movie. The first thing that grabs you, visually, is the lensing. The use of shallow depth-of-field and focus to reinforce character is awesome, especially for a low-budget indie. Mike Dallatorre:

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We shot spherical using ALEXA Large Format and Panaspeed T1.4 primes. Carey’s dream was to shoot anamorphic. But even with my history at Panavision, I couldn’t get a hold of a set of anamorphic lenses – they’re just way too popular. I knew we were going to be in the van [with Sean, Kunle, Carlos, and Emma] for a lot of this movie, and that the large-format capture would allow us to be close and intimate without getting that distortion that makes you feel like you’re looking through a surveillance camera [laughs]. Carey’s what I would call a “lensing director.” He thinks carefully about how lensing impacts the story. He had a [Sony] A7 with a Panavision mount and a wireless transmitter, so he could show me and the operators [via iPad] exactly the frames he wanted. I would also vary the lenses on the close-ups for Sean and Kunle because they are such different people. Same field of view but with slightly different perspectives. The best example is the night exterior when they’re arguing right before Maddie [Emma’s sister] runs up and hits them with the stick. Kunle says, “We’re not going to be roommates,” and that’s a pivotal moment. Carey Williams: I wanted this film to feel authored, like someone is taking you through this journey. And you

can do that really well with the lensing – rack here, pull focus there, direct the viewer toward what you want them to see, and more importantly, what the characters are feeling in that moment of the story. Mike was so great in helping me achieve that kind of strong cinematic language. We go to some dark places, and we were like: “Hey, we’re going to hold your hand, drop you in, and make sure we honor exactly what these people are experiencing every step of the way.” The first bold use of color and lighting is when Sean imagines what the legendary tour will look like. How did you visually distinguish each of those locations, given the budget and schedule limitations? Carey: I’ve got to give it up to our production designer, Jeremy Woodward, and his art department, who were great in giving each of those sets this feeling of heightened reality. Remember, these are Sean’s fantasies of what each place would be like, not necessarily the real thing. Combined with Mike’s lighting, which pushed just enough into hyperreality, they come alive. For those scenes, you have to really lean on collaborators like Mike and Jeremy to bring their special sauce. Mike: I did


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