Canadian Cinematographer May 2022

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VOL. 14 NO. 3


canadian society of cinematographers



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with Ian Lagarde csc and Renée Blanchar

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS with Bobby Shore csc and Suzie Lavelle bsc isc

BARN with Adam CK Vollick



table of contents

M AY 2022 ISSUE VOL. 14 NO. 3





With Bobby Shore csc and Suzie Lavelle bsc isc By Fanen Chiahemen



With Ian Lagarde csc and Renée Blanchar





With Steve Cosens csc and Daniel Grant csc By Trevor Hogg, Special to Canadian Cinematographer







With Adam CK Vollick (associate member) By Roman Sokal, Special to Canadian Cinematographer

Cover: Le monde de Gabrielle Roy

By Karim Hussain csc

bilingual article english and french



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Honest Beauty b y fa n en c h ia hem en


he new series Conversations with Friends follows a set of Dublin college students navigating fraught romantic and family dynamics. At the centre of the series is Frances, a smart 21-year-old aspiring writer (played by Alison Oliver) and provocative, self-assured Bobbi (Sasha Lane), whose tight friendship is tested when they become entangled with Nick and Melissa (Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke), an attractive couple in their 30s. The series, airing on BBC Three and Hulu as of this month, was adapted from Irish author Sally Rooney’s 2017 novel of the same name, and helmed by the same creative team as the critically acclaimed romantic drama Normal People, adapted from Rooney’s 2018 novel.

Conversations with Friends was shot mainly in Belfast last year, with Irish DP Suzie Lavelle bsc isc (Vikings) and Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (Room) crafting the look of the first five episodes, while Bobby Shore csc took over for Episodes 6 through 10 working with director Leanne Welham (His Dark Materials).


C A N A D I A N C I N E M A T O G R A P H E R | Arricam MAY 2022






Kodak 5219 500T



conversations with friends Belfast,












Shore says he had not sought much television work in the past few years, but something about the creative team’s approach to Conversations with Friends enticed him. “I think I actually shied away from TV quite a bit because I find that the schedule can dictate and drive so much of the creative vision, where it becomes about shooting 14-hour days and pointing as many cameras at the action as possible,” Shore offers. “And what I loved about this show was the phrase Lenny always used – lo-fi, low key and honest. So shooting single camera, shooting 2-perf 35mm, shooting 10- or 11-hour days, and having eight days per half an hour episode, we just had time to really be very intentional and specific with the ways that we approached the visual language, giving the actors a lot of room and time for blocking and to find the performance, and for me and Leanne to really hone in on the right frame and lighting for each shot.” “All of prep was spent poring over the script, going over the locations and asking a lot of questions: ‘Should this be handheld? Should it be locked off? What lens should this be on? What does the light want to feel like? And putting in the time and effort into planning everything we thought would work tonally, so that on the day we could throw the whole plan out and still know exactly how to approach the scene,” Shore says. “And as the episodes and the story progress, we wanted to bring our own perspective to what was happening while being very truthful to the aesthetic, tone and feeling that had already been set. It was really interesting to shoot episodic television like that; it felt very creatively engaging.” Lavelle, who was also the DP on Normal People, did extensive lens testing in prep with Abrahamson. “We had used the K35s on Normal People, so myself and Lenny knew the glass well, but neither of us had used them with film,” she says. “So we shot tests with our main cast to find the right lens for each character. I also do pretty comprehensive light/contrast and flare testing at this stage.” “What was really interesting was there wasn’t this need to visually embellish the image. It was an extremely simple, non-technical approach, and there was something just inherently textural and analogue about it all in terms of the image quality, which shooting 2-perf on older lenses perfectly complemented,” Shore maintains.




Using the Arricam LT, Shore’s camera operating provided another way to achieve the desired look. “It was very important to be emotionally close to Alison while still maintaining both her relationship with Nick as it develops, and her relationship with Bobbi as it evolves,” Shore explains. “So it became a very interesting back and forth in terms of figuring out the right place to put the camera in any given scene. We wanted to be with Alison the entire time but also portray both relationships as they develop together.” Lavelle and Abrahamson had made the decision during prep to use long lenses for wide shots “as a way of placing our characters in their worlds,” Lavelle says. “So we shot lots of long lens tests around our city locations at day and night and ended up using 180 mm prime for a lot of our scenes when Frances walks through the city. It really helped us immerse Frances in Dublin. “We were very interested in the effortless feeling you can get from shooting film, and we felt the 2 perf field of view – which is only 1.6 times bigger than S16 – felt very naturalistic and had a bit of European arthouse feel, which I think suited Lenny’s style of quiet filmmaking, where we try and keep the filmmaking invisible,” she adds. Motivated camera moves and sources were an integral part of the visual grammar of Conversations with Friends, according to Shore. “No crane shots, no unmotivated camera angles. In the 45-day schedule, we mainly shot either handheld or locked off, and we used a dolly move only twice,” he says. A naturalistic lighting approach was adopted as well, with available light used as often as possible with only bounce boards or some negative fill.



“I wanted the light to always feel as real and natural as possible,” Lavelle says. “Lenny was very interested in using front light, and I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to do that well in a set build whilst trying to keep the floor clear of equipment and having a free roaming handheld camera. Due to COVID, we ended up building the sets for Frances’ Dublin apartment and Nick and Melissa’s house. It was a challenge to get enough light in the studio to be able to soften it enough to keep it natural. I am a big fan of tungsten lights, and for this show I used predominantly tungsten heads and didn’t bring any small fixtures into the sets. Tried to keep all the gear outside and light through the windows, giving the actors as much realism and freedom as possible.” Shore recalls one of Lavelle’s edicts about lighting. “She kept on referring to wanting to embrace the cold light of day,” he says. “And that didn’t have anything to do with the colour temperature at all. But more so to ask how do we portray the intimacy in the show with a lot of thoughtfulness and respect while also making the actors very comfortable. And what she meant by cold light of day was a lot of front light. And immediately as she said it and then showed me a reference, I was like, ‘I totally get what you’re saying. It’s like there’s nowhere to hide.’ If you’re going to show two people as they’re falling in love and getting physically intimate and close with one another, what better way to do it than in a frame and an image that’s softly front lit where you can see every detail? This translated into shooting a lot of the intimacy scenes with a roving handheld camera, sometimes shooting takes as long as 10 minutes – a full 400ft mag at 2 perf – and lighting the space more than lighting the actors. We would capture every detail, every moment we needed, but in a long take while often intentionally jumping the line and moving all around the actors to best find those most important moments of closeness.”

If you’re going to show two people as they’re falling in love and getting physically intimate and close with one another, what better way to do it than in a frame and an image that’s softly front lit where you can see every detail? – Bobby Shore csc “Leanne was obviously very aware of this aesthetic choice and would be very open and collaborative to making sure that we could block things in a way where the motivated light source could become something frontal,” Shore says. “And it’s interesting because I think intuitively it goes against everything that you’re taught as a DP where everything should be backlit and everything should be kind of pretty. I feel like the look of this show was unbelievably right. And very, very honest. But I think also very beautiful, too, in its simplicity.” Achieving this soft, naturalistic quality of lighting on the sets took a lot of firepower, according to Shore. “Every window had at least two Arri T12’s outside of it, pushing through multiple frames of diffusion usually a layer of grid cloth and then bleached muslin, along with more than 40 SkyPanel S60 space lights to create a soft ambient skylight pushing into either side of the set and lighting up the translight that wrapped around it. Because the sets were built as real locations, with no wild walls or ceiling, we needed to push in a ton of light to make it feel like it wasn’t lit at all.”

A somewhat simpler approach was taken for the night work. “We would usually turn on a practical or two and then hid light mats wherever we could on the floor, stuffed into a corner somewhere, and covered in layers of raw muslin to create a source-less looking light that would feel really naturalistic. “Because so much of the night exterior work was either long lens or roaming handheld, we’d sometimes just shoot with whatever lights already existed on the street, or I’d work really closely with the wonderful art department and place practicals (often sodium vapour lights) into each location in a way that would work with how we planned to shoot the scene,” he adds. Coming onto a thematically intimate show halfway through the season, Shore had to build trust with the cast relatively quickly. “Alison was one of the most open and giving actresses I’ve ever had the chance to work with,” he says. “One of the reasons why I love to operate is that I think physical proximity to the actors is the most important aspect of building trust and respect amongst one another and can really create a space for the actors to feel safe and secure enough to be vulnerable. Alison, to her credit, really opened up to me quickly. “The cast was great,” Shore continues. “They were just so nice and so warm and welcoming, especially Alison and Sasha. It felt like such a strong collaboration. Suzie and Lenny really instilled a good sense of creative freedom as well, obviously within the framework that they had developed, but it always felt very collaborative. It felt like there was a very specific sense of trust amongst everyone and was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had.”




Arri Alexa CANAD I A N C Mini I N E M A2.8k T O G R4:3 A P H EProRes R | M A Y4444 2022





Hawk V-Lite Vintage ‘74 Anamorphic 2x

le monde de gabrielle roy


ased on the life and work of one of Canada’s most celebrated authors, the eight-episode series The World of Gabrielle Roy, coproduced by Manitoba’s Les Productions Rivard and Quebec’s Zone3, retells the significant moments of Roy’s childhood in Saint-Boniface. Acadian writer-director Renée Blanchar (Belle-Baie, Le silence) and Quebec director of photography Ian Lagarde csc (Bête noire, La contemplation du mystère) reveal their artistic approach to this series celebrating the Franco-Manitoban author of such works as The Thin Flute (Bonheur d’occasion) and Enchantment and Sorrow (La détresse et l’enchantement).


nspirée de l’œuvre et de la vie de l’une des plus célèbres écrivaines canadiennes, la 1re saison de la série Le monde de Gabrielle Roy, co-produite par Les Productions Rivard du Manitoba et Zone3 du Québec, se déploie en huit récits qui racontent l’édification de celle-ci à travers des moments signifiants de son enfance à Saint-Boniface. La réalisatrice et scénariste acadienne Renée Blanchar (Belle-Baie, Le silence) et le directeur de la photographie québécois Ian Lagarde csc (Bête noire, La contemplation du mystère) nous dévoilent ici leur propre cheminement artistique à travers la mise en image de cette œuvre basée sur les écrits de l’autrice franco-manitobaine de Bonheur d’occasion et de La détresse et l’enchantement.

bilingual article english and french t r a d u c t i o n / t r a n s l at i o n b y g a s to n b e r n i e r









MIRRORING GABRIELLE’S LIFE Renée Blanchar: The World of Gabrielle Roy is a televisual adaptation of the author’s romanticized vision of her childhood. That creative space between reality and fiction allowed us to avoid a literal reconstitution and create a more dreamlike world for aesthetic and artistic purposes. In order to avoid a certain historical objectivity, which can sometimes bring a feeling of heaviness, we went for the subjective human experience of a young Gabrielle (Léa-Kim Lafrance-Leroux) as she goes through life. We complemented that with a more conventional approach to capturing the adult world with her child’s view of things. By visually capturing feelings and a sense of time from a ten-year-old child’s point of view, we sought to magnify the images and impressions that Gabrielle the author will revisit later in her writing. Ian Lagarde csc: Renée’s texts cemented my desire to be part of this project because her writing was so sincere, lively, touching and full of Gabrielle Roy’s spirit. Her attention to detail, to the historical context and to her characters’ psychology provided some clearly cinematic opportunities, which is exceptionally rare on a TV shoot with a small budget. We had 26 days to shoot the series and on some of them we needed to shoot up to 12 pages of script. RB: Shooting the series entirely in Manitoba completely opened my eyes to the extraordinary resilience of Franco-Manitobans, and at the same time my admiration for Gabrielle Roy’s journey increased tenfold. There is a lot of dignity among francophones, and I was insistent on including that dignity in the first season. They may be a poor family, but they’re dignified. The house is modest but there is love. Clothes are worn out but well mended. All of that was part of the aesthetic approach. In that sense, like the Roy family, we tried our best with our budget constraints, which became our strength at the end of the day, to capture their spirit on a small budget. IL: When Renée contacted me about shooting the series, I was really touched because Gabrielle Roy is a literary giant whose work is so influential in francophone Canada. In Quebec we tend to forget that this Francophonie extends beyond our borders. It’s something we really need to look at. I’m also ashamed to admit that I had forgotten Gabrielle Roy was Franco-Manitoban. I thus saw this opportunity as an artistic and cultural reunion, a way to reset my francophone mentality somehow.



REFLÉTER LA VIE DE GABRIELLE Renée Blanchar : Le monde de Gabrielle Roy est une adaptation cinématographique/télévisuelle de la vision romancée de l’autrice sur son enfance. Cet espace créatif entre réalité et fiction nous a permis de nous éloigner d’une reconstitution littérale pour proposer un monde plus onirique au profit d’un véritable parti pris esthétique et artistique. Afin d’éviter une certaine objectivité historique, qui peut parfois apporter cette impression de lourdeur, nous avons proposé la subjectivité de l’expérience humaine, celle de la jeune Gabrielle (Léa-Kim Lafrance-Leroux) qui fait le plein d’expériences. Ainsi, à une manière plus conventionnelle de filmer le monde adulte, on a cherché à complémenter ou à opposer un regard à hauteur d’enfance — celui que porte Gabrielle sur les choses. En traduisant visuellement le regard, les sensations et la temporalité d’une enfant de dix ans, nous avons voulu magnifier les images/impressions que Gabrielle l’autrice revisitera plus tard dans son écriture. Ian Lagarde csc : Les textes de Renée ont cimenté mon envie de faire partie de ce projet, puisque son écriture était sincère, vivante, touchante et clairement habitée par l’esprit de Gabrielle Roy. Son attention au détail, au contexte historique et à la psychologie de ses personnages, donnait des épisodes efficaces, inspirants et clairement cinématographiques. Ceci est à la fois exceptionnel et complexe, dans un contexte d’horaires de tournage télévisuels avec peu de budget. Nous avions 26 jours de tournage prévus et devions tourner parfois jusqu’à 12 pages de textes en une journée. RB : Le fait de tourner entièrement la série au Manitoba m’a complètement ouvert les yeux sur l’extraordinaire résilience des Franco-Manitobains et du même coup, mon admiration pour le parcours singulier et l’œuvre de Gabrielle Roy s’en est trouvée décuplée. On ressent beaucoup de dignité également chez les francophones et cette dignité-là, j’ai tenu à lui faire une place dans la première saison. C’est une famille pauvre, mais digne. La maison est modeste, mais il y a de l’amour. Les vêtements sont usés, mais bien reprisés. Tout cela a fait partie de l’approche esthétique. Dans ce sens, à l’image de la famille Roy, on a tenté de faire de notre mieux avec nos contraintes budgétaires – ce qui a été une force en fin de compte - en essayant de mettre de l’âme partout, à défaut de l’argent. IL : Quand Renée m’a contacté pour tourner la série, j’ai été vraiment touché, puisque Gabrielle Roy est un monument littéraire dont l’œuvre a profondément marqué l’identité de tous les francophones du Canada. Au Québec, nous avons tendance à oublier que cette francophonie s’étend hors de nos frontières. C’est un enjeu sur lequel nous avons beaucoup de travail à faire. J’ai d’ailleurs assez honte d’avouer que j’avais oublié que Gabrielle Roy était franco-manitobaine. J’ai donc vu cette occasion comme une rencontre artistique et culturelle ; une occasion de me refaire une tête francophone, en quelque sorte.





RB: The first season is set in the family home on Deschambault Street. This is where many incidents that led Gabrielle on the path to becoming an author play out. A reminder of a more prosperous time for the family, the Roy residence is a place where one feels protected, but it is also an old, suffocating place, practically devoid of children, that reflects the dynamics of the family and their economic hardship.

RB : L’arène de la première saison, c’est l’antre familial, rue Deschambault. C’est là où se jouent plusieurs des enjeux liés au parcours de Gabrielle et à son devenir d’autrice. Vestige d’une époque plus faste pour la famille, pratiquement vidée de ses enfants, la résidence des Roy est un endroit où l’on se sent protégé, mais c’est également un lieu étouffant, vieux, patiné, en phase avec la dynamique familiale et sa précarité économique.

The set was approached from a “psychological” standpoint, that is to say, taking the family history into account. For example, the office of Gabrielle’s father Léon (Gaston Lepage) is in fact the old dining room. When Léon lost his job, he took possession of this room. Gabrielle’s bedroom, the unplanned youngest child, was an extension of the parents’ bedroom. So, it was important to shoot on a sound stage. I was strongly influenced by The Queen’s Gambit, because of the wallpaper, among other things, and the decor that evolves with the character. Also Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, because houses play an important role in those two films. They almost become a character.

Le décor a été abordé d’un point de vue « psychologique », c’est-à-dire en tenant compte de l’historique de la famille. À titre d’exemples, le bureau de Léon, le père de Gabrielle (Gaston Lepage), est en réalité l’ancienne salle à manger. Lorsque Léon a perdu son emploi, il a pris possession de cette pièce. La chambre de Gabrielle, la petite dernière qu’on n’attendait pas, a été aménagée dans un prolongement de la chambre des parents.


En ce sens, l’option du studio s’est rapidement imposée. Mes plus fortes inspirations, certainement The Queen's Gambit (à cause du papier peint, entre autres et du décor de la maison qui évolue avec le personnage), aussi Little Women de Greta Gerwig et Portrait d’une jeune fille en feu de Céline Sciamma, car dans ces deux films, les maisons jouent des rôles très importants. Elles deviennent pratiquement des personnages.




IL: Gabrielle’s actual house is now a museum in Saint-Boniface, and it would have been difficult to shoot there. The street is too modern, and the interior would have had to be redone. So we adopted a hybrid approach. House exteriors were shot in St-Pierre-Jolys, where the scouting team found a house very similar to Gabrielle Roy’s. But many of its modern elements were visible in the frame. Without the budget to fix it in post, production designer Patricia Christie and her team had to create some sort of enclave of greenery, which gave us ten times the number of possible shooting angles, luckily, because we had imagined a lot of dolly and Steadicam movements there. House interiors were shot in a studio, except for the attic, which we also shot at the house in St-Pierre-Jolys. Here again, Patricia was brilliant; I was so impressed by her attention to detail. For example, she insisted on using real windows that interacted with light in a more natural and convincing way than Plexiglas. And contrary to what I thought, the Roy family had electricity at that time (1920), and we were able to install several small warm lights inside the house, allowing us to create a colour contrast with the light coming from outside.

IL : La vraie maison de Gabrielle étant aujourd’hui un musée à SaintBoniface, il aurait été difficile d’y tourner réellement. La rue est trop moderne, l’intérieur aurait été à refaire, bref, nous avons privilégié une approche hybride. L’extérieur de la maison a été tourné à Saint-PierreJolys, où l’équipe de repérage avait trouvé une maison très similaire à celle de Gabrielle Roy. Toutefois, plusieurs éléments modernes étaient bien visibles dans son environnement, parfois carrément invasifs dans le cadre. Le budget ne permettant pas de reléguer cette partie de l’image à la postproduction, Patricia Christie (production designer) et son équipe ont dû créer une sorte d’enclave de verdure, qui a décuplé les possibilités d’angles au tournage. Heureusement, parce que la stratégie formelle impliquait beaucoup de travellings et un peu de steadicam. Les intérieurs de la maison ont été tournés en studio, sauf le grenier, que nous avons aussi tourné à la maison de Saint-Pierre-Jolys. Encore une fois, Patricia s’est acquittée de la tâche avec brio. Son attention aux détails m’a impressionné. Par exemple, elle a insisté pour utiliser des fenêtres réelles, aussi traditionnelles/imparfaites que possible, qui interagissaient avec la lumière de manière beaucoup plus naturelle et convaincante qu’un simple plexiglas. Et la famille Roy avait l’électricité à l’époque (1920), contrairement à ce que je croyais. Nous avons donc pu installer plusieurs petites sources chaudes, à l’intérieur de la maison, qui nous permettaient de créer un contraste de couleur avec la lumière provenant de l’extérieur.


Notre palette de couleurs s’est principalement inspirée des Prairies, des couleurs de l’époque et des oeuvres de l’artiste Pauline Boutal, une contemporaine et amie de Gabrielle Roy durant sa vingtaine. – Renée Blanchar

AN INSPIRED PALETTE RB: Gabrielle Roy’s words are really the heart of this first season. It’s full of her rhythm, poetry and worldview. Her words made me reflect on the concept of contrast, the house versus large open spaces, family poverty versus Winnipeg’s wealth, a young mother (Martine Francke) versus an older father. This idea of contrasts fed into our aesthetic approach to the series. Our colour palette was manly inspired by the Prairies, colours of that period and works by artist Pauline Boutal, a contemporary and friend of Gabrielle Roy during her 20s (Romane Denis). Originally from France, Boutal immigrated with her family at age 13 and became an important visual artist in Western Canada at the beginning of the century. The emphasis was on the patina, washed out colours… we assigned subtle colour hues to certain characters, according to their destiny. For example, for Alicia (Charlie Fleurant), the sister who dies, purple was in her clothing and on the bedroom wallpaper.



UNE PALETTE INSPIRÉE RB : Les mots de Gabrielle Roy sont au cœur de l’inspiration de cette première saison. Ils ont insufflé le rythme, la poésie, le regard de la jeune Gabrielle sur son monde. Or, la dimension la plus fondamentale, peut-être, par rapport à la réalisation, c’est que ses mots m’ont amenée à réfléchir sur la notion de contraste ; la maison versus les grands espaces, la pauvreté de la famille versus la richesse de Winnipeg, une mère (Martine Francke) encore dans la vie versus un père « vieux ». Cette idée de « contrastes » a nourri nos réflexions sur l’esthétique de la série et la manière de raconter l’histoire en image. Notre palette de couleurs s’est principalement inspirée des Prairies, des couleurs de l’époque et des œuvres de l’artiste Pauline Boutal, une contemporaine et amie de Gabrielle Roy durant sa vingtaine (Romane Denis). Française d’origine, Boutal a immigré au Manitoba avec sa famille à l’âge de treize ans et s’est avérée une artiste visuelle importante de l’Ouest canadien au début du siècle. L’accent était volontairement mis sur la patine, les couleurs délavées… nous avons attribué des teintes à certains personnages, en fonction de leurs destins, mais il fallait que cela reste subtil… À titre d’exemple, le mauve pour Alicia (Charlie Fleurant) - cette sœur qui va mourir - était présent dans ses costumes et sur le papier peint dans la chambre à coucher.




IL: Gabrielle Roy’s writing is very personal, intimate and elegant. It evokes a subtlety that inspired the look of the show. We decided early in the process to favour warm colours for the series, with a few exceptions. The series is about childhood and discovering the world, the tension between enchantment and disillusionment; we wanted this innocence and this intensity to be reflected in a lively, colourful and contrasty image. During prep, Renée talked a lot about her writing as a collection of impressionistic “bubbles.” So, early in the process, I thought about shooting anamorphic. After comparing several lenses, Renée was brave enough to choose the Hawk V-Lite Vintage ‘74. They are very expressive lenses that matched the spirit of the script and the vision that we had for the series. Personally, I was really happy with this choice. Ever since we started shooting almost exclusively in digital and became obsessed with higher resolution, I’m often trying to “break” the resolution and give a nice patina to these high-performing sensors that can have a very clinical look.

IL : L’écriture de Gabrielle Roy est très personnelle, intime et élégante. Elle évoque une douce subjectivité qui nous a inspirés dans l’élaboration du look. Nous avons décidé, assez tôt, de prioriser, sauf pour quelques exceptions et un épisode entier, des couleurs assez chaleureuses et pas trop désaturées. C’est une série sur l’enfance, sur la découverte du monde, sur la tension entre l’enchantement et le désenchantement ; nous voulions que cette innocence et cette intensité se reflètent dans une image vivante, colorée et contrastée. Durant la préparation, Renée parlait beaucoup de son écriture comme d’une collection de « bulles » impressionnistes. J’ai donc cru bon, assez tôt dans le processus, de lui proposer de tester l’option anamorphique. Après avoir comparé plusieurs séries d’objectifs plus ou moins expressifs, Renée a eu le courage d’opter pour les Hawk V-Lite Vintage ‘74. Ce sont des objectifs extrêmement expressifs, qui correspondaient bien avec l’esprit des textes et la vision que nous avons développée pour la série. Pour ma part, ce choix m’a vraiment fait plaisir. Depuis que l’on tourne presque exclusivement en format numérique et avec l’obsession pour une résolution toujours plus grande, ma quête se résume souvent à tenter de « casser » la résolution et donner une « patine » à des capteurs de plus en plus performants, qui peuvent souvent donner des résultats trop cliniques.


Lenses are obviously just one tool, but for the look we wanted, the Hawks have the advantage of giving a personality to the image. The 55 mm Macro became my favourite lens for the series, if not of all the lenses that I have used in my life. Conventional wisdom tells us that anamorphic shooting is more complex and time consuming, thus more expensive. I really think it was the opposite in this case. On our longest days, having these lenses allowed us to stay on schedule while creating images that we could be proud of. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Winnipeg William F. White team who graciously supported us in the process. RB: For lighting, we opted for a chiaroscuro option because of the period and also to reinforce this idea of contrast. The 2:1 ratio allowed a nice rendering of the large open spaces, as well as of richer compositions for the interiors. With anamorphic, we could tone down the cleanliness of the decor and the interiors in general, while doing justice to the grandiosity of the Prairies. We favoured shorter depths of field to detach the characters from the backgrounds and to emphasize a certain impressionism over a more realistic approach. We are really in Gabrielle Roy’s world. IL: For lighting, I had the incredible luck of working with Laurence Mardon. Despite a limited budget, his resourcefulness and his endless creativity inspired the whole team. He’s a real gentleman who joined us because he sincerely liked Renée’s scripts and Gabrielle Roy’s work. Robert Auclair, a high-level key grip; Patrice Lapointe, an incredible dolly pusher; and Matt Schween, an excellent Steadicam operator, captured the fluid and almost instinctive movements, sometimes completely improvised but always immersive. Without 1st assistant camera Tegan Kolodinski, none of this would have been conceivable. And of course, the work of Julien Alix, talented colourist and long-time collaborator, was also crucial in giving more volume to the images and pushing the look of the series further. I have a precious, almost telepathic collaboration with Julien. Without these bonds of trust, it would feel like plunging into the void with each project. RB: When I saw Ian’s work, I wanted to work with him because he is both gracious and audacious. For this project, I sought to work with new people with the hope that they would take me out of my comfort zone. I achieved this with Ian. I particularly liked that we took time to do the camera tests together. I must say that I had a lot to learn in that area and he was a good teacher. I find that everything he managed to do in terms of ambiance and lighting in the studio (the house) within the time frame that we had is absolutely terrific. I would even say it’s a small miracle. He is a true talent.



Évidemment, les objectifs ne sont pas le seul moyen d’y arriver, mais je sentais que pour cette série, il fallait y aller franchement. Par ailleurs, les Hawk ont l’avantage de donner une personnalité immédiate à l’image. Le 55 mm Macro est devenu mon objectif favori de la série, sinon de tous les objectifs que j’ai utilisés à vie. C’est un véritable bijou. Par ailleurs, le « bon sens » traditionnel prétend que de tourner en anamorphique est plus complexe et chronophage, donc plus coûteux. Mais j’ai la sincère impression que le contraire s’est avéré, ici. Dans nos journées aux horaires les plus intenses, le fait d’avoir des objectifs aussi « vivants » nous a permis de maintenir le rythme, tout en créant des images dont nous pouvons être fiers. J’en profite d’ailleurs pour remercier l’équipe de William F. White, de Winnipeg, qui nous a gracieusement accompagnés dans le processus. RB : En matière de lumière, le choix d’une approche clair-obscur s’est imposé à la fois à cause de l’époque, mais également pour renforcer ce parti pris de contraste au cœur de la réalisation. Le ratio 2 : 1 permettait une belle exploitation des grands espaces ainsi que des compositions plus riches dans les intérieurs. L’anamorphique permet de « casser » le côté propret du décor et des intérieurs en général tout en rendant justice à l’aspect grandiose des prairies. Nous avons privilégié de courtes profondeurs de champ afin de détacher les personnages des arrière-plans et d’accentuer un certain impressionniste qui nous éloigne d’une approche plus documentaire/ réaliste ; nous sommes vraiment dans un monde, celui de Gabrielle Roy. IL : Pour l’éclairage, j’ai eu la chance inouïe de travailler avec Laurence Mardon. Malgré le budget limité, sa débrouillardise et son inépuisable créativité ont inspiré l’équipe complète. Laurence est un réel gentleman, qui nous a rejoints parce qu’il aimait sincèrement les textes de Renée et l’oeuvre de Gabrielle Roy. Robert Auclair, chef machiniste de haut niveau, Patrice Lapointe, incroyable dolly pusher, et Matt Schween, excellent opérateur steadicam, nous ont permis de développer une stratégie de mouvements fluides et presque instinctifs, parfois carrément improvisés, mais toujours immersifs. Sans la réactivité de Tegan Kolodinski, 1re assistante caméra, rien de tout cela n’aurait été envisageable. Et bien sûr, le travail de Julien Alix, coloriste de talent et collaborateur de longue date, a été aussi crucial pour donner plus de volume aux images et pousser le look de la série plus loin. J’ai une précieuse collaboration presque télépathique avec Julien. Sans ces liens de confiance, on aurait l'impression de plonger dans le vide à chaque projet. RB : Quand j’ai vu le travail de Ian, j’ai eu envie de travailler avec lui parce que ce qu’il fait est à la fois gracieux et audacieux. J’avais besoin, pour ce projet, de collaborer avec de nouvelles personnes, en espérant qu’elles me sortiraient d’une certaine zone de confort et qu’elles m’amèneraient plus loin. On peut dire qu’avec Ian, j’ai été servie ! J’ai particulièrement aimé que nous ayons pris le temps de faire les essais caméra ensemble. À ce chapitre, j’estime que j’avais des croûtes à manger et il a été très bon pédagogue avec moi. Je trouve que ce qu’il est arrivé à faire en matière d’ambiance et de lumière en studio (la maison) - dans les temps que nous avions - est absolument formidable. Je dirais même que c’est un petit miracle. Ian Lagarde, c’est un sacré talent.

À l’image de la famille Roy, on a tenté de faire de notre mieux avec nos contraintes budgétaires – ce qui a été une force en fin de compte - en essayant de mettre de l’âme partout, à défaut de l’argent. – Renée Blanchar






b y k a r im h us s ain cs c


y relationship with the Cinefade system began a while before I even knew it existed. While prepping director Brandon Cronenberg’s 2020 feature Possessor, we had a crazy idea that we had never seen done before. When the character of Vos (Andrea Riseborough) would jump in and out of possessing someone, the world around her would start blurry in shallow depth of field, then sharpen up in focus, revealing her surroundings. Effectively a depth of field rack in shot while maintaining a single focal plane, without affecting the lighting. With the technology that we thought was available at the time, this was easier said than done. It would require synchronizing the lighting with the iris control, and during camera tests, our attempts to do so were disastrous. We scrapped the idea for Possessor, with the hope that one day this effect would be possible practically with more R+D and means.


CANADIA N C I N E MAlexa A T O G R A PMini HER | MAY 202 2 Arri Arriraw








firestarter and the cinefade Masterbuilt














Basically, I’ve made a powerful new ally in the everevolving world of cinematography. The Cinefade is one of those dream tools that you always wished you had. – Karim Hussain csc

Little did we know that a few years prior, Cinefade inventor Oliver Janesh Christiansen had a similar idea. Instead of trying to synchronize lighting with the iris, he developed a system where a mechanical remote variable ND in the matte box could be synchronized to individual lenses, their stop rings and values set to match the values on the ND, so in theory, without a visible change to the lighting, the depth of field could change in shot. At the time of Possessor’s prep, it had recently hit the market, primarily in Europe, and was used on a few features and commercials, but as local rental houses didn’t carry it, I was not aware of its existence. Once I was hired to be the director of photography on Keith Thomas’ 2022 remake of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter, we had a few challenges ahead of us. The script was much more streamlined, intimate and character-orientated than Mark Lester’s bombastic 1984 original, so we decided to go for an entirely different look and visual style than the first movie, which I enjoyed for nostalgic reasons like many horror fans of my generation, but also recognized that it was a product of the hyper-drive ‘80s and we were making a completely different movie. While Giuseppe Ruzzolini’s photography on the first movie was quite bright and even, we would approach it from a dark and moody perspective, with some occasional bold splashes of colour and a smoky, soft atmosphere that reflected the burgeoning inner darkness in the characters, with Rembrandt chiaroscuro light for most of the close-ups.

One of the main challenges posed was how to visually illustrate a key plot point, where the characters of Andy McGee (Zac Efron) and young Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) “push” people, that is to say, control them telepathically to get them to perform acts or see things that are not there. In the first movie, they just used a sound cue and a nosebleed primarily. But we wanted to up the game and come up with a practical on-set visual cue. While searching through the ARRI website, I stumbled upon a page that introduced me to the Cinefade. Used mostly up to that time on movies like The Commuter (2018), shot by Paul Cameron ASC, and Mank (2020), shot by Erik Messerschmidt ASC for subtle depth of field change effects and its mechanical remote Vari ND, it was the perfect tool to illustrate how the world bends around the characters of Charlie and Andy when they push. Ultimately many techniques were used in the final product for these sequences, but the Cinefade would be the practical technique we would be employing on set. At least in theory. It was a difficult and rare piece of equipment to get, not commonly used and there were not a lot of units in existence. Very few camera assistants I knew in Toronto or rental houses had experience with it. Before going through the specifics of the “push,” Keith and I had to lock down the basic look of the movie. After doing extensive tests at Keslow Camera in Toronto, we settled on using as our main primes MasterBuilt Classics, which would give us the softer, more vintage look we wanted while providing modern mechanics and T1.4 shallow depth possibility, as well as the use of one of my old standbys, my 1970 original Angénieux 25-250 vintage zoom lens, nicknamed “Lucky Pierre,” along with some Helios 44 lenses for sequences needing more skewered bokeh. Black Pro-Mist 1/8th diffusion on everything that could take it. Since this was for Universal, who don’t insist on using 4K origination cameras, we luckily were able to use my favourite camera, the ARRI ALEXA Mini, though originating at 3.4K Open Gate in ArriRaw and 2.8K ArriRaw for select lenses such as the zoom, which could not cover Open Gate. We shot in Super-35 for a 2:39 frame extraction at the end. Keslow Camera were absolutely amazing in their help and support in getting two Cinefade units to us, along with their C-Motion wireless controllers. Camera tests began at Keslow with A cam 1st AC Chris Gruggen and A cam 2nd AC Eric Pinsonneault, where we began to play with the Cinefade, and it took a certain amount of R+D to get it right. The initial challenge was to see how to fit the Cinefade in a Mattebox (the full system takes up two 4x5.6 tray spaces) while being able to use one additional stage for diffusion, and the possibility to also use a diopter in the 138 mm stage, all at the same time. Chris Gruggen explains: “For matte boxes we ended up only using the Arri LMB 4x5 system. This was because it was one of the only matte box systems that allowed to swing away, and still allow for the Cinefade to fit into its tray system. We tried other swing away units, but the Cinefade wouldn’t fit all the way down and would cause vignetting. The LMB 4x5 was a great fit and let us keep the build of the camera small but the lens changes to be a lot easier. Otherwise, we would have to disconnect the Cinefade cables, then recalibrate everything once we had changed the lens. This way, while in VariND mode, we didn’t have to recalibrate the Cinefade since it didn’t matter what lens we had selected on the handset; it was only changing the filter value in the Cinefade itself.” 31

The other advantage of using the Arri LMB 4x5 system was its ability to tilt, which was definitely useful when it came down to filter ghosting. As with any time you are using many filters and diffusion, ghosting (duplicate images of highlights in reflection) can happen, and with the Cinefade you are adding two layers of glass to your lens, in addition to any diffusion. On Firestarter, before any scene involving fire, we tested the shots with a smaller flame to see if any ghosting could happen. It did occasionally, and anything we couldn’t rectify with tilting, we ended up erasing digitally in post. Ghosting can happen with any use of filters, and in only very specific lighting situations did we occasionally encounter ghosting, which the MasterBuilt Classic primes were very sensitive to. To perfect the complex Cinefade effect – the racking of depth of field while keeping lighting consistent – it was more a game of trial and error. Mostly this effect is used with small start and stop distances on the iris to minimize exposure fluctuations during this effect, but as I am not very interested in going halfway, we wanted to rack from wide open to as far closed down as we could, and vice versa, to get the maximum visual impact, sometimes very fast. As Chris says, “The biggest thing we ran into was having to limit the range of the stop to avoid getting the stop shift at either end of the move. We ended up limiting it to go from T1.4 to T11, and that seemed to help mitigate a lot of the shifting issues we had. This was because the Polarizer in the Cinefade only has so many stops in its range, so going past its range would cause a flickering effect and exposure shifts. The biggest thing I feel helped us was to reprogram the buttons on the handset to do exactly what our plans for it were. This meant changing the MB1 button to Calibrate all Motors, changing MB3 to Choose Lens, and UB2 to Change Filter Mode (Cinefade, Pola, or VariND). We would also have to set the Iris to be controlled by the knob, then we would also set the trigger button (BB1) to press and hold while we turned the knob to set the limits for the iris. This allowed us to streamline the setup and avoid going into the menus as much as possible.



“Since our units were pretty new, we didn’t have access to the Camin MDR unit. We used an RF Cmotion Motor instead. The Camin MDR would have helped keep weight down especially on the Ronin in VariND mode. We ended up having to attach a small rod to the back of the gimbal to hold the motor while it acted as an MDR.” It took many tries to get the feel of how to do the effect as well as we could. During tests, I soon discovered that in Vari ND mode, I could maintain the constant shallow depth of field we wanted for the whole movie (lenses mostly wide open for run of show), but be able to balance out our primes (which were rolling primarily at T1.4) and our zoom, which was minimum T3.2-T3.9 depending on where you were on the barrel, with great ease by lighting for the slower lens, but adjusting by eye with the CMotion Cinefade Vari ND controllers to get both A (usually on a Prime) and B Cam (frequently on a zoom or on a 135mm prime with a doubler) on the same page. This saved a ton of time on set, but also helped compensate for every DP’s frustration that most NDs come in one stop increments, and to make a perfect match to such imprecise lenses in terms of their matching, sometimes you need a 1/3rd stop ND or 1/2 stop ND. Well, with the Cinefade, that’s possible just with the turn of a knob. Realizing this, I made the decision to shoot the whole movie using the Cinefade in Vari ND mode and make it a major part of my workflow. As one of our lead performers was a SAG minor, which when you came down to it ultimately meant we had her for only 6 hours of shooting time per day after all the technicalities, on most days we could not even shoot later than 10 p.m. to midnight with her. So the faster we could move, the better. The Cinefade saved a ton of time on set, in terms of light balancing between setups and avoiding filter changes. Adjustments that normally would take time, were again, done with the simple turn of a knob.

To perfect the complex Cinefade effect – the racking of depth of field while keeping lighting consistent – it was more a game of trial and error. – Karim Hussain csc

Of course, in lighting for Vari ND mode, you have to take into account that the minimum ND compensation the Cinefade can work at is ND.4, so no matter what you are losing one stop and a third from the get-go. I set all of Firestarter to ISO 1280 on the camera to have a consistent digital grain structure and latitude throughout, so when I was lighting, my meter would usually start at minimum ISO 500, which is still pretty good. Considering this, we were actually able to do multiple night exteriors using the Cinefade. Sometimes with the Cinefade, if you go to the darkest extremes of where the Vari ND can go (ND 2.7 if you turn off the “optical safe range”), you can get soft vignettes, darkness on the edges of frame. Sometimes this looks great for a shot, other times it’s not wanted, so then you could use the internal NDs on the camera to get to a starting point to where you’re comfortable, then pick up with the Vari ND to finetune where you want to be, but not go harder than ND 1.8 on the Cinefade. So my exposure control tree now consisted of four units. Two Preston remote iris controllers (for A+B Cam) and two Cinefade C Motion controllers (also for A+B Cam). We placed them on a small stand where we could move them rapidly with ease, as I like to vary between the large OLED 25-inch monitors at village or work off of two calibrated 7-inch monitors in a tiny tent if I need to be closer to the action. Since the CMotion Controllers are very power hungry, we discovered that the best way to make them work without interruption was to power both units off of a single V-Mount battery that we attached to my tree. We were also plagued with every cinematographer’s nightmare on pretty much every day exterior, extremely variable clouds and sets that placed the sun exactly where you didn’t want it to be when the time came to shoot certain scenes. Due to the titular fire starter’s status as a SAG minor, we sometimes had to start scenes and shoot out her closeups along with anything you would see her face in first, in different scenes, then once she was shot out come back to complete day exterior sequences, frequently hours later, once the sun was in a completely different place or it had clouded over or started raining.

We employed the usual arsenals like large HMIs and diffusion flyswatters to try and limit the pain, but in addition to great final colour work by my regular colourist Jim Fleming at Company 3 in Toronto, the Cinefade greatly helped during shots where the sun would cloud over then peek out mid-take, where I could make exposure adjustments without affecting the depth of field as the action happened. It’s called Firestarter, so of course, the challenge of any cinematographer when shooting large explosions or flames is the need to stop down as the flames are at their highest point to maintain detail in them and not over-expose, then gradually open up as they subside to get back to your initial exposure. In the past, that meant always a change in depth of field. But with the Cinefade, we could maintain our depth of field and compensate by eye as the flames rose, then subsided to keep them looking as detailed as possible. It was something particularly helpful for this very specific project. For process trailer shots done through the front windshield of a truck, we set the Cinefade to the Remote Pola setting, where from the camera car monitor, I could myself adjust the polarization live during a take to see the performers in the best way possible through the windshield as the light and surrounding reflections changed in movement. The Cinefade had basically changed the way I exposed images for cinema, as mentioned before. So much so that on the project I shot just after Firestarter, Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool, we replicated the same workflow and Vari ND lens control tree at village for me, using the Cinefade pretty much all the time for A and B Camera. It worked brilliantly. That movie was shot on the sunny beaches of Croatia and the industrial misery of abandoned buildings in Hungary, and the Cinefade shined in all these conditions. Basically, I’ve made a powerful new ally in the ever-evolving world of cinematography. The Cinefade is one of those dream tools that you always wished you had. Hopefully as word spreads, it will become an industry standard available at every rental house, instead of a special-order item that isn’t commonly used or discussed. 33

r e b u i l d i n g

w o r l d

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station eleven

b y trevo r hogg, s p eci al to canadian c i n e m atographer


ix years before the coronavirus pandemic upended the world as we know it, British Columbia-born novelist Emily St. John Mandel released Station Eleven, a dystopian tale that sees humankind decimated by a deadly swine flu. Central to the story is the character of Kirsten Raymonde, who was abandoned as child when the outbreak occurred and is protected by surrogate guardian Jeevan Chaudhary. Twenty years later, Kirsten is a member of a group of wandering actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony, which performs Shakespeare plays as a means of cultural preservation. The Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel has been adapted into an HBO Max miniseries consisting of 10 episodes by Patrick Somerville (Made for Love) and stars Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, Matilda Lawler, David Wilmot, Nabhaan Rizwan, Daniel Zovatto, Philippine Velge and Lori Petty. Making things surreal for the production was the fact it had to go on hiatus and shift from Chicago to Toronto because of COVID-19. As a result, cinematographers Steve Cosens csc (Blaze) and Daniel Grant csc (Night Raiders) took over from Christian Sprenger (Atlanta). Director Hiro Murai (Barry) and Sprenger were responsible for the pilot and Episode 103; Cosens’ first episode, 102, picks up 20 years after the virus has swept the planet, introducing the audience to the post-apocalyptic world for the first time in the series, and his cinematography was key to the world building. “When Hiro and Christian shot the Year Zero, which is the year the pandemic hit, the scripts for the future had not even been fully developed so they weren’t exactly sure what was going to be done tonally for the Year Twenty scenes,” Cosens says. “After seeing those two episodes, I realized that we were speaking the same visual language. Christian was using a lot of natural and available light and nice locked-off frames; there was an elegant simplicity to it. Christian’s episodes were slightly less desaturated but when moving into the Year Twenty material, we were quite specific in terms of where we would bring colour into the wardrobe and production design. In post we finessed the colour and brought a bit more warmth and saturation to the image, keeping it rich but not too colourful.”






Two months were spent in prep while principal photography was mostly shot according to the seasons from February 2021 to July 2021. To get the necessary scope, locations and sets were methodically selected and constructed. “There was a lot of time spent choosing locations that we all knew we could make work and know that we wouldn’t have to compromise shot making or world building. Every time we went to a new location Ruth Ammon, our production designer, was adamant that we could only look in certain directions and she did an amazing job at holding on tight to the aesthetic we had all agreed upon. I always felt aligned with Ruth’s vision,” Cosens says, adding that some locations required storyboards “because we had so much to shoot in a short period of time and we had to be so tight we needed to have a clear sense of what we were going to do on the day, and for sets like the Shakespeare stage Ruth built a maquette with all of the configurations of the trucks and how they opened up into stages. We looked at it and mapped out where to put all of the torches and flames and how and where all of the gas lines would be plumbed. It was important for me to shoot all of the Shakespeare stuff with real fire. I had full control of all of the flames on stage so that I could sculpt with the firelight and create contrast simply by dialing up or down the gas.” A 280-degree condo set was constructed at a warehouse studio situated at Toronto Pearson International Airport where brothers Jeevan (Himesh) and Frank Chaudhary (Nabhaan Rizwan) live with young Kirsten (Matilda Lawler). “Daniel and I worked hard on the lighting of



that set in prep and we used quite a lot of SkyPanels and soft boxes and a combination of front and rear lighting of the Rosco SoftDrop to create different times of day with different qualities of daylight including sunrise,” Cosens says. Station Eleven was the first production to shoot on the newly film-friendly terminal at Pearson Airport, and for Cosens, “it was such a joy to be able to shoot 360 degrees in a real airport with miles of windows and natural light, but it was also tricky because it was almost like shooting exterior where you were slave to the direction and amount of daylight; evening came way too quickly.

You always think you’re going to have more time on a bigger show, but the set pieces get bigger and the machine is bigger so it takes more to change the direction of it. You’re always making calculated compromises to get the day and feel creatively fulfilled. – Steve Cosens csc

“The number of windows were also problematic for visual effects as they had to remove all of the twinkling city lights out of the windows at night because at that point the power is down and most of the world has died,” Cosens reveals. “That meant rotoscoping around a lot of people and furniture.” Shooting at a live airport was difficult. “Particularly anything shot out on the tarmac was incredibly complicated,” Grant remarks. “Technically it was still an active runway, though only reserved for emergencies, but elsewhere at the airport planes were taking off and landing all the time, so any lights or equipment being used out there had to be cleared weeks in advance. One day we had a giant windstorm that basically destroyed the exterior set we were planning to shoot that night, so the only thing we could shoot were scenes inside the jetways at night. Because there is supposed to be limited power in the Year Twenty airport, I needed to create moonlight coming in through the windows of the jetway. I couldn’t use any lights outside the jetways because the wind was too strong, so we used construction Wacker lights so that we could keep shooting.” Even though the production carried two ARRI ALEXA Mini LF cameras, most of the time a single one was used. “This show was more interested in getting nice frames and not compromising one camera for the sake of the other and Sasha Moric did a beautiful job on the Ronin as always,” Cosens says. “We adapted the original LUT that Christian Sprenger used on Episode 1 and 3 and created a few new modified looks that worked better for our Year Twenty material including a LUT specifically designed for fire light.

Christian had originally shot with vintage style MasterBuilt lenses and a low-contrast filter and it had a nice softness that we wanted to maintain; it had a nice filmic quality to it. Although the MasterBuilts were nice the lenses that we shot most with were the Tribe7 Blackwing lenses and I absolutely love these lenses; these are lenses designed to have tuneable characteristics, that is, you can sort of customize the softness of the lenses so that they create a more vintage look. During testing, we realized that the MasterBuilt didn’t handle flame and hot sources as nicely as we wanted but the Blackwings were able to handle the flare and kickback from shooting open flame better. I shot probably 90 per cent of the show on the 37 mm Blackwing 7 and with our diffusion recipe it had such a nice creamy texture when shot at T2- 21/2.” Various SkyPanels were also part of the lighting equipment. “The S120 was a real workhorse, and I used the s360s a lot for daylight or, for example, the lightning at the airport I used six S360s on lifts clustered together with slightly staggered flashes. I used probably 100 8-foot Astera tubes all on a dimmer board for the abandoned K-Mart set,” Cosens says. “For the night stuff, we utilized LRX with 6K HMI Pars or S360s doubled up on scissor lifts.” Many different lighting effects rigs were built with gaffer George Kerr. “One rig I used often was a 4x8 frame with several Astera tubes rigged to it,” Grant explains. “It created several multiple sources that gave the feel of multiple candles or firelight, but also the spacing of the bulbs kind of amalgamates into a single source.”


Steve Cosens csc (centre) and his crew set up a scene in the forest. Ian Watson



Throughout the series, the story shifts between Year Zero and Year Twenty. “That was part of what Daniel and I were trying to solve was how do we make that transition without feeling like we are in a different show altogether,” Cosens notes. “We didn’t need to go so heavy-handed with a distinct colour correction to make that distinction because we thought it would be evident in the cutting.” The sets, wardrobe and light were quite different in the two time periods. “Changing the language of the camera would have detracted from that,” Grant states. “There are several times where we strove to create the same frames in different time periods, to emphasize the way the storytelling bridges these different time periods.”

like-minded way,” Cosens says, explaining that the biggest demands on them were fusing the creative and logistical challenges. “It was like a big road show with a large crew that was always moving from location to location each week and having to settle in and get a lot of material within a short period of time all the while jumping back and forth in narrative time. Jeremy Podeswa was the creative producer, and he had to checkerboard everything and make sure that everything lined up so that the director could get all of the scenes they wanted to get in any given location. Sometimes I would shoot a scene for Daniel in my space, and Daniel would shoot a scene for me in another space. It was because we had an exceptional group of people and a great crew that we were able to move fluidly and agile enough.”

Having to alternate with another cinematographer was not something that Cosens had done before, and he was initially unsure about it. “When I found out it was going to be Daniel Grant, I was relieved because we have similar aesthetics and I knew we’d come at things in a relatively

Cosens and Grant were in constant communication with each other. “At 5 a.m., Daniel would be driving to a location, I would be finishing a night shoot and we would talk to each other in our cars about how to make a location work,” Cosens recalls.



“We did most of our studio work early in the schedule and the last three months were all exterior, so weather became a huge challenge because we didn’t really have any kind of cover set if it was raining,” Grant offers. “The most challenging day was actually the one we had to create a rainstorm. We had a mix of bright sun and cloud that was constantly changing that day, and then thunderstorms. Ironically when the thunder started, we had to shut down and wait for it to pass. I was sitting there looking at all these beautiful clouds and rain as we sheltered from the lightning, and then it would pass and we’d have to start shooting again in full sun. My approach to this was just to shoot in backlight whenever possible, because I was banking on the idea that it would be easier to match a backlit shot to an overcast shot, and for the most part this worked. DIT Andrew Richardson was live grading from his station as we were shooting so he could alter the colour and contrast of the image to cool down and soften the sunny shots.”

always balancing this against having a skin tone that had a nice richness and depth to it. We spent a good amount of time finessing the green of foliage in Year Twenty. I find that green is one of those colours that can start to look very digital in sunlight if it’s too saturated, so we were careful about finding the sweet spot for the verdant landscapes of Year Twenty.

The DI took place remotely between Company 3 facilities. “It was a good collaboration between colourist Cody Baker, Daniel and I to find the final colour,” Cosens states. “Cody Baker was in Los Angeles while I was in Toronto. I love the post colouring process because it satisfies the painter in me. Cody and I played with isolating individual colours of clothing and/or choosing certain colours in the landscape to recede or pull up, and of course we were

For Grant, it was “surreal at times to be filming a story about a pandemic while in an actual pandemic,” he says. “But to be honest, the themes of the story often felt so resonant in our current world situation, that sometimes it was comforting to be able to ruminate on that. The show is ultimately a positive story about rebuilding after catastrophe, and what we want to preserve from the old version of the world, and what we want to leave behind.”


“Like with every production, the pandemic did impact the shoot because you spend so much of the day dealing with the protocols, which definitely slow things down,” Cosens adds. “We were on a very tight timeline, so we had to make it up somewhere, which usually comes down to the DP speeding the show along. You always think you’re going to have more time on a bigger show, but the set pieces get bigger and the machine is bigger so it takes more to change the direction of it. You’re always making calculated compromises to get the day and feel creatively fulfilled.”

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chasing thelight









by roman sokal, special to canadian cinematographer


s a Grammy-winning, two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Neil Young may have toured all over the world, but when it’s time for him to make a film, the cinematographer he turns to can be found in Queenston, Ontario, a rural community nestled against the Niagara River with a population of a few hundred people.





barn Associate member Adam CK Vollick’s work was first noticed in 2004 by Daniel Lanois, producer for such music legends as Bob Dylan and U2. Vollick had photographed a family event that was published into a book, which caught Lanois’ eye, and when the producer summoned Vollick to his studio to do some publicity stills, a new stage of the young cinematographer’s career took flight. “It



was around the same time that his record Belladonna was coming out. He had some press photos done that he wasn’t happy with. It was a right-place, right-time scenario for me,” Vollick recalls. “Daniel said, ‘Hey, Adam, I really loved those pictures you took of the family, and I wonder if you’d come down to my Toronto loft. I have some spotlights and a few things around, a 5,000-squarefoot space with instruments and everything. So come on down and just have some fun tomorrow.’ The rest is history.”









In the years following, Vollick became Lanois’ visual conduit, supplying psychedelic imagery for his live performances, record covers, and even codirecting and lensing Lanois’ documentary Here Is What Is, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007. “Shortly after doing a few shows together, I became his sort of resident visual artist,” Vollick says. “After Here Is What Is was the Black Dub project. We stylistically chose to approach it like the track on Here Is What Is called ‘Harry.’ ‘Harry’ is the birth of my visual voice. It’s a one-take pan around the room of the band performing a song all at once. It was a magic carpet ride we all went on. So we decided to treat the Black Dub films like that. I tapped this extra-sensory perception I have for 3D space; it probably came from all the visual exercises I did trying to see around corners and through time in my Spacetime painting works.” Here Is What Is and the Black Dub films were shot with a variety of cameras, including a PXL2000 Fisher-Price video camera. “We needed to get it into DV format,” Vollick explains. “I sent it away to a guy on eBay I found who modified them to have a regular analogue out jack. Then I plugged that into the DVX100 that we shot everything else with and recorded everything to DV tape so that we could then transfer off of DV tape into the editing suite and avoid that whole cassette thing altogether. There’s no look like it. We also used some pinhole cameras from my short stint installing security systems.” Not long after that, Vollick caught the interest of Young, as well as director Jonathan Demme. “At the time, Daniel’s manager and Neil Young’s manager were one in the same, the legendary Elliot Roberts,” Vollick says. “Elliot showed those [Black Dub] films to Neil, and Neil decided, ‘I’ve always wanted to make a record with Daniel, and I want this kid from Canada to film it.’ That’s where [Young’s 2010 album] Le Noise came from. Then Jonathan Demme, who was in the midst of making a three-picture series of concert films with Neil, saw Le Noise, and I started getting invited to his projects too. With Demme I worked on Journeys at Massey Hall, and I was called in to shoot a concert with Kenny Chesney, which was one of the first livestreams that YouTube ever did, from the Jersey beach. Jonathan put me in a Tom Ford suit and made me the onstage and under stage operator for Justin Timberlake’s Netflix concert film of his 20/20 tour.” Vollick’s imagery was used on the album cover of Le Noise, captured and processed in a grainy, high-contrast, black-and-white still. He has since supplied images for various albums and DVD packaging. “I have contributed a lot of album artwork over the years. Up until then, I’d shot everything besides the weird art with a Panasonic DVX100, which was a standard definition little handheld video camera,” he says. “It was a great thing to learn on, I have come to realize it was kind of like a digital 16 mm, similar in mobility to what the New Wave guys in France would have been using back in the day. It totally influenced the way I learned to see through a film camera. But when we got the call to do Le Noise, hi-def had become a standard. I thought, ‘We can’t continue to shoot with this. We’ve got to step up.’ But I wanted the same feel, a sharp and fast mechanical lens and an unencumbered camera body. So we moved up to the big brother of DVX 100, the hi-def version of it, the HPX170. I knew photographically we can’t centre-cut a 1920x1080 frame and then blow it up to a 12-inch record cover. It’s gonna look like garbage. So I started thinking, ‘What footage do we have that I can stitch together as a panograph?’ There was this one take we did of this song ‘Hitchhiker’ where we shot during the day. It starts with a long pan up from the ground, snaking up a cable to Neil through the open doors. Very eerie backlighting, sage smoke in the air. I thought, ‘This is perfect.’

“There’s another process I created through the way I treated my Spacetime paintings, where I created the grain from scratch, layering a whole bunch of grain together to simulate the kind of organic grain structures, almost reticulation, that you would get when push processing real film too hard,” Vollick says. “I laid that on top of it after I’d stitched it all together, and that became the look of the Le Noise film as well. Ever since then, Neil’s called me for pretty much every musical project he’s done.” Vollick employs a renegade type of approach to his work, shooting largely solo, although he says he is now interested in putting his wholehearted effort into shooting narrative features. Recalling some past shoots with Young – including the 2018 feature film Paradox, starring Young and directed by Young’s life partner Daryl Hannah; Young and Hannah’s 2019 documentary Mountaintop; and Barn, a stand-alone film to Young’s 2021 album of the same name – “I had no crew. Zero,” Vollick states. “It was all about my operating, being there to get it. It was pure vérité. There was so much that came from the in-between moments and the talent around. In the recording studio, you learn that you’ve always got to be rolling. You never know when the muse is going to come and sprinkle the fairy dust. Whenever I have a camera in my hand, I have to be entirely present. Even when I put the camera down, I leave it rolling. That’s my mode of operation, and I think it’s what’s led to my longevity with Neil. I don’t miss anything. If I can help it, there’s always something rolling somewhere. “A secret to all of my studio practices is I have a Sound Devices 10-track field recorder that records high-res and a bunch of wireless mics that I hide around different parts of the studio, the control room and the performance room,” Vollick says. “When I send it all to the postproduction house, I send it along with notes about key events that happen at times of day. Then that’s a master timeline, a ruler, for them to sync the different cameras to and line them up. Then I monitor that recorder on a wireless listening device in headphones so that I could hide, out of sight, in the studio and know everything that was going on.” One of Vollick’s trademark go-to lenses is a 5.8 mm circular fisheye. “I use it like a God’s-eye perspective,” he says. “It has a polished inner barrel. Most lenses have a matte finish inside the barrel so as to eliminate flare. This one is polished, so any flare is greatly accentuated. Because it sees around 205 degrees, every little light that hits the lens causes an explosion of colour. It’s not practical most of the time, but it is a certain effect that can be great in close quarters and such when employed properly.” Vollick’s approach to shooting images is also spiritual in a way, founded on an innate understanding of the connection between human beings and creative energies. “As an artist and a human being, I feel like we’re all a part of one giant thing,” he states. “Without getting too metaphysical about all of this, the idea that we’re apart from one another is kind of a fallacy. Of course we are. You live in your house, I live in my house, but I think that our consciousness is something that is at play in everything. We are all a part of the same fabric of energy, and each of us is a pinhole aperture in that fabric to the light that exists on the other side. So whenever I can make people feel that connection to things, that awe, the realization that our thoughts and feelings transcend objects, media and all that superficiality, with everything that I do, I try to put that kind of fingerprint of life on it.


“With Mountaintop, Elliot Roberts had just passed away,” Vollick reveals. “The nighttime time-lapses that I did, I would let burn at the same exposure into daytime so that we’d have these organic fades to white. I’ve always wished Mountaintop was more beautiful. However, the subject matter was pretty gritty. The songs were pretty gritty. Neil’s mood was pretty gritty. And the story that he cut together about the making of it was pretty gritty.” Vollick acknowledges he has an affinity for natural light. In Barn, he allows strips of sunlight to highlight the faces of the musicians, while maintaining



detail in the darkest of spots. “I feel like I’ve been a student of light my entire life. I’ve been observing it ever since I was a baby,” he muses. “I remember riding in the backseat of my parents’ car when my brother was really little. It’d be that ultramarine blue dawn and my mom was going to work. I remember squinting to change the shape of the oncoming headlights. My early memories are all remembrances of light encounters. I have a nostalgia about how every day of the year looks different than every other day of the year. Every day, every minute is different from the last. I’m hoping someday to shoot by moonlight.”

In the recording studio, you learn that you’ve always got to be rolling. You never know when the muse is going to come and sprinkle the fairy dust. – Adam CK Vollick




© 2022 William F. White International Inc. 48


csc member spotlight

ELIE S M O L K I N csc I loved westerns growing up. When I was a kid, I watched Unforgiven in the theatre. I remember it having a huge impact on me. I used to watch Se7en on DVD on repeat. What a stunning movie. Also Blade Runner was the first time I think I ever registered the possibility of moving light in a movie and how that can affect the emotion and feeling of a scene. How did you get started in the business? Kamal Derkaoui csc gave me a chance camera assisting for him on shows in the summer breaks between school years when I was younger. He knew that I wanted to work in the film industry when I graduated, and he really encouraged it and helped get me a start in the industry. Director Todd

Strauss-Schulson, and producers Janice Williams and Michael London helped get me a start in the feature world on The Final Girls, and then Janice and Michael introduced me to showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara who took a chance on a young DP with no TV experience and a lot of crazy ideas for their new show The Magicians. Who have been your mentors or teachers? Kamal was an early teacher for sure. I learned a lot from him, especially about thinking outside the box to achieve what you want to do creatively even if it seems outside the scope of your budget. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson taught me a lot about camera operating. He has such specific ideas for his movies about framing and movement. It pushed me to learn all the motion control technology and also how to operate/make camera moves

precisely. Shannon Kohli taught me that if I wanted to be a DP, I should take the leap. DP Adam Bricker has been incredibly helpful over the years when it comes to career decisions or bouncing off creative ideas for our own projects. When it comes to life and navigating the freelance creative world, my parents definitely taught me how to take calculated risks and really go for what you believe in. Name some of your professional highlights. I’ve shot commercials, features, and some really cool TV series like The Magicians, I’m Dying Up Here, The Stand, Truth Be Told and a new show called The Offer. Every project that I get to work on feels like a highlight. I always learn something new, meet talented people, and it is a joy to be creating images and telling stories.

illustration by Jo Enaje

What films or other works of art have made the biggest impression on you?



The Aviary (Pacesetter/Saban) The Magicians (SYFY/Universal Studios) The Offer (Paramount+) The Mortuary Collection (XYZ Films) Truth Be Told (Apple TV+) The Mortuary Collection (XYZ Films) Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (USA/Universal Studios) BLINK (Sony/Screen Gems)



Good Behavior (TNT/Warner Brothers)

I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime/CBS Studios)

What is one of your most memorable moments on set? If I have to pick just one, I think it would be from the movie The Final Girls. We were shooting at a Girl Scout camp in Louisiana, and due to some unforeseen events, we found out that the big sequence where the bad guy (who was fully engulfed in flames) was going to chase our heroes through the woods was going to go from three burns down to just one. We had three directions to shoot and had a lot of shots story boarded for this complex sequence, but it was our last night at the location, and we had to get it done with what we had. The director asked if we could shoot all three directions at once and get as many shots from the sequence as possible. We were shooting at 300 fps at night on an indie budget, so that was a tall order for sure. Luckily, we had a small second unit shooting that night, so I decided to pull them, and we went

four cameras strong. I told the director that since we only had one chance at this anyway, we should wait for the sun to just crest and create dawn ambience in the sky to help get us the necessary exposure for the sequence. We lit the sequence and rehearsed it several times. Two cameras were on a long dolly track running profile to the chase, one camera was on a 300 mm wide open as they ran toward it, and one was lying in wait for the moment that the three heroes turned back as they ran. As soon as it was dawn, we rolled cameras and everyone nailed their missions perfectly. Even that 300 mm shot was tack sharp. Then the sun came up, we packed the trucks and the Girl Scouts rolled in for their first day of camp as our set was still smoldering.

ents. Then, we come together after doing our own specific art to make a single, special, one-of-akind thing. I also love the combination of creative and technical. Cinematography is an art and a science in the best of ways.

What do you like best about what you do?

On my Instagram @elie_smolkin and on my website at

What do you think has been the greatest invention (related to your craft)? I think the use of LED lights in our industry is probably one of the greatest more recent inventions. The ability to have every possible colour, intensity, pixel at your fingertips and often all controlled wirelessly from a lighting console (or even a tablet) is something special. I think it has been game changing. How can others follow your work?

That I get to collaborate with all sorts of different people who all have unique perspectives and tal-

Kyle Riefsnyder


on set gallery

On the set of the short film Late Night Church Service with student member Robert Zastre. Abishek Varun

Associate member Ian Macmillan (with camera) and actors Danilo Reyes and Margaret Lamarre on the set of Age of Consent. Max Medvediev

DP/camera operator/gaffer Sarah Thomas Moffat (associate member) on the set of the feature film Broken Angel in British Columbia. Courtesy of Sarah Thomas Moffat

DP Morgana McKenzie (associate member) captures Isla McCoubrey playing young hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser for the feature documentary Wick. Zac Jackson



Associate member Gordon Gair filming with the US Army out of Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska, on their Chinook helicopter for Extreme Ice Machines. David Ottier

Director Melanie Chung with associate member Angel Navarro III on the set of the CBC Gem web series Hello (Again). Samantha Falco


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Director and DP Vic Sarin csc on location in Mexico on the set of his feature Sugar. Arturo Lopez

Associate member Kevin Rasmussen (at camera) on the set of the show Dark Side of Comedy. Nick Mirka

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DP Andres P. Galicia (associate member) with musician Javier Blake shooting the music video for the song “Austin.” Diego Patino




csc outreach campaign More information at



an unprecedented outreach c a m pa i g n CANADIAN CINEMATOGRAPHER | MAY 2022

L-R: Paul Bronfman Ken Anderson Peter Crithary Manny Danelon Grace Carnale-Davis Stosh Durbacz Stephanie Fagan Francois Gauthier Trevor Huys Jennifer Mallette James Martin Rob Riselli Mark Saddleton Jim Teevan Ken Thasan Court Weeks Kate Wisman Jeremy Benning csc Guy Godfree csc Rion Gonzales Philip Lanyon csc Bruno Philip csc Claudine Sauvé csc Penny Watier Susan Saranchuk Gail Picco


t the opening of CSC’s 64th Annual Award Gala in November, Paul Bronfman – Chairman/CEO of Comweb Corp., CoChairman/Senior Advisor of William F. White International Inc., and Chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios Inc. – made an announcement. “Eighteen months ago, just as the pandemic began to take hold, and we saw ugly racial violence broadcast on our screens, the Board of Directors of CSC made the decision that the pursuit of equity and diversity in the film and television industry in Canada was going to be its priority,” Bronfman told an audience of industry leaders, award nominees and industry associates. To that end, the Society has launched The Future is Calling campaign, an initiative to raise $3.75 million that will resource the programming needed to help mitigate those barriers. A 20-person campaign cabinet chaired by Bronfman is leading the charge. Equity behind the camera continues to be a problem acknowledged across the industry. In June 2021, The Hollywood Reporter headlined a story, Canadian Industry Gets “Dismal” Grade for Hiring BIPOC Women. The Women in View 2021 Report says, “women – especially Black women, Indigenous women and Women of Colour – remain significantly under-employed on Canada’s film and television productions.” ACTRA co-chairs told the Toronto Star in 2020 that Canadian TV has “a lot of work to do” on diversity. CBC reported a McGill University study, which found non-white actors are underrepresented in Hollywood and that racial minorities say it's no better here in Canada. “Over the past two years, the CSC leadership has been increasingly concerned about how the racial, economic and gender injustices are acting as a barrier to accessing the industry and, in particular, cinematography,” according to award-winning cinematographer Guy Godfree csc, chair of the Society’s board of directors.

The Future is Calling Campaign is devoted to the development of new and existing talent from marginalized communities, especially in the realm of the “camera arts.” The CSC – in partnership with the film and television industry, government and the philanthropic sector – will build the bridges needed to reach out to marginalized communities across the country, offering unprecedented training opportunities in the Canadian Society of Cinematographers trailblazing internship programs, online education, unique mentorship and ongoing networking support. The Campaign has raised more than half of its 3.75-million-dollar campaign goal. During the next three years, we’ll see the organization: •

Launch a national outreach, internship and mentorship program opening The CSC Education and Gathering Space in Vancouver, The CSC Education Space and The CSC Gathering Space in Toronto, and satellite offices in Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax

Produce four online education series aimed at emerging and pre-emergent cinematographers

Offerarangeofspecialisttrainingcoursesdesigned and delivered by our top cinematographers

Produce Advancing Technology workshops to help working cinematographers and emerging cinematographers stay ahead of the fast pace of change in the virtual production space.

“In my 28 years in this field, I am unaware of a campaign like The Future is Calling,” chief executive officer Susan Saranchuk says. “The response from industry and government has been tremendous. Our board of directors and campaign cabinet are highly motivated. I believe we are well on our way to changing the face of the industry.”

At the same time, we are experiencing a period of industry growth and skilled workers are in high demand. In 2020, Canada’s film and television production industry generated over $9 billion in production volume, contributed $12.2 billion to the GDP and created approximately 244,500 jobs. (CMPA)




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