American Cinematographer - March 2015 - 20

Production Slate

I

Secret Agent Men
By Michael Goldman

Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the tale of an ultra-secret
British spy agency that recruits a young street punk (Taron Egerton)
for its training program, just as an evil-genius billionaire (Samuel L.
Jackson) initiates a twisted plan to wreak havoc on the world. Director Matthew Vaughn invited cinematographer George Richmond to
Munich in the summer of 2013 to shoot tests, determined to find
the right techniques to produce the classic-film feel he was after
while shooting digitally.
"Matthew wanted the feeling of an older movie," Richmond
recalls. "There was never one specific image or reference in mind,
but the script evoked older cloak-and-dagger movies - spies in
pinstriped suits, carrying umbrellas like in [the British series] The
Avengers, and humorous villains [emblematic of] the Roger Moore
era of James Bond. Matthew said all of his [previous] movies had
been shot on film - and always anamorphic - so the first thing he
wanted to know was how anamorphic works on digital, and how
to get that old-style feeling."
Richmond says their conversations came down to the nature
of the glass they would end up selecting, "and how it is actually the
lenses that can make something look old and a bit softer. Vantage's
Hawk [V-Series anamorphic primes] have beautiful aberrations, with
little out-of-focus banding areas around the edges of the frame,
20

March 2015

distorted uprights at the edges, and those elliptical, out-of-focus
flares, which can help digital photography feel more like an older
movie shot on film." The V-Series lenses only date back to the early
2000s, but, Richmond attests, "they have the look we wanted,
especially the wide lenses when shooting between T2.8½ and T4."
Richmond recommended shooting Kingsman with the Hawk
lenses on Arri Alexa XT Studio cameras, whose native 4:3 sensor is
well suited to anamorphic work. He also wanted to take advantage
of the camera's rotating-mirror shutter, which he felt captured
motion more like a film camera, as well as its motorized, rearmounted neutral-density filter system. "With the flick of a button,"
he explains, "a little filter slides across the back [of the lens] for
shooting day exteriors. This is a great thing, because it means you
don't have to stack so many filters in front of the lens."
According to 1st AC Chris Bain, the production carried a set
of Hawk V-Series primes - from 30mm to 250mm - and added a
set of V-Lites that were paired with an Alexa XT for Steadicam and
handheld work. They also regularly used two V-Plus anamorphic
zooms (45-90mm T2.8 and 80-180mm T2.8) and a V-Plus anamorphic macro (120mm).
"We made good use of the 120mm macro, often starting in
the macro world and pulling back to develop into a scene," Bain
recalls. "Using a Preston remote-focus system, I trimmed the scale of
the lens to the range of the distance needed for the shot - essentially giving us more control of that part of the scale.
➣

American Cinematographer

Unit photography by Jaap Buitendijk, SMPSP, courtesy of the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Veteran secret
agent Harry Hart
(Colin Firth)
stands outside
the tailor shop
that provides
a front for
the titular
organization's
operations in
Kingsman: The
Secret Service.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - March 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - March 2015 - 5
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