American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 30

I

Globetrotting for
The Gunman
By Iain Stasukevich

Photographed by Flavio Labiano and
directed by Pierre Morel, The Gunman is a
loose adaptation of the novel The Prone
Gunman by French crime author JeanPatrick Manchette. In the film, Sean Penn
plays Jim Terrier, a former mercenary who's
being hunted for his connection to an
assassination in the Congo eight years prior.
Terrier is further haunted by his past in the
form of old friends turned rivals and old
flames rekindled. In true thriller fashion, The
Gunman wraps action, drama and intrigue
in a slick, glossy package, but as Labiano
explains, there's a deeper substance to its
style.
American
Cinematographer:
What camera system and lenses did
you use on this project?
Flavio Labiano: We got two Arri
Alexa XTs, so we could shoot with anamorphic lenses. We rented the Alexas from
Service Vision in Spain and had one set of C
30

April 2015

Series anamorphic lenses delivered from
Panavision Paris. The lenses aren't all necessarily equal to one another, but they do give
you this kind of organic, old look, which is
great for fighting the extreme sharpness of
the digital sensors. [The footage was
captured in ArriRaw.]
The film seems to want us to get
inside Terrier's head. How did you
convey that visually?
Labiano: We used stocking diffusion
and old Kowa anamorphics for shots when
Terrier is thinking back to the time when he
and Annie [Jasmine Trinca] were in love.
Those lenses give you the most beautiful
flares, and we were always trying to find the
best way to put the sun on them. We only
had a few focal lengths: 40mm, 50mm,
75mm, and a [Nipponscope] 85mm.
Did you bring your own style as
a director of photography, or did the
project demand something specific?
Labiano: In the end, everything
adjusts. You can do your prep and your
scouting, go over all the references and
have your talks with the other departments,
but you can't predict a film [entirely]. Maybe
American Cinematographer

in prep you were planning to do 20 shots
with lights everywhere, but then you show
up to the set and find out that you have
only five hours to do everything. You end
up making some compromises, and
through the schedule and the time and the
resources and politics, a film ends up growing its own look.
How did that process play out
for The Gunman?
Labiano: Actually, the first thing we
filmed was the scene with Terrier in the
hotel room getting ready to shoot the
mining minister. We lit this scene to have a
very contrasty look. We shot that in half a
day in Barcelona - in the daytime, with
tented windows - the same day we shot
the airfield night exteriors. From there, we
just took that path through the rest of the
film. It was a risk starting the film with such
an extreme look, but if they don't fire you
after the first day, then you're okay.
You shot in South Africa, the
United Kingdom and Spain, and each
location has its own specific look and
feel. For instance, the scenes set in
South Africa feel hot and bright.
➣

The Gunman unit photography by Joe Alblas, courtesy of Open Road Films.

Mercenary-turned-humanitarian Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is hunted for his connection to an
assassination in the Congo in the thriller The Gunman.



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

Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 10
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 21
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 28
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 30
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 65
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover4
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