American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 38
Between Heaven and Hell
baptize his former
partner in life and
crime, Tulip O'
The crew captures
time with Rogen and Goldberg was
condensed. "We did a shot list for the
whole episode because our two-week
shooting schedule was so intense. We
hashed it out in three days. The three of
us acted it out and mock-photographed
one another, then we just took off and
kept to that shot list," the director of
He describes the directing team
as a two-headed monster. "They both
chime in. They're super-easy to get
along with and you laugh all the time,"
Pope says. "They're also super-economical. They're open to ideas on the day,
but it was a crunch-time schedule. They
cut things to the bone before you even
go out, and they stick to it."
The cinematographer says that
although the pilot is true to the comics'
transgressive characters, the source
material was not referenced much in
discussions about look. For example, the
tongue-in-cheek CGI opening scene in
which Genesis traverses the solar system
- penetrating Saturn's rings and taking
out a satellite along the way - seems
inspired by vintage astronomy-class
films. "Seth and Evan are willing to do
anything that's surprising and funny,"
Genesis first inhabits the body of
a dodgy African preacher (Irungu
Mutu), leading to the unfortunate man's
explosion, and then has a similar experience at a satanic temple in Russia. Both
locales are iconically represented -
Africa bursting with a variety of deeply
saturated colors and bright sunlight, and
Russia cold, blue and snowy.
"They wanted a different look for
each city," Pope says. "They wanted the
viewer to feel they're being transported
to different places like in a James Bond
movie. It's full-on. It's very 'comic book'
- that's archly what it is."
He adds that in Texas, where the
main action transpires, "They wanted to
capture the feeling of the desert: the
sepia-toned, empty Texas of the movies,
with dust blowing and the whole nine
Although the pilot is set in the
present, the filmmakers were inspired by
the look and spaciousness of Tonino
Delli Colli's work in Sergio Leone's
Once Upon a Time in the West. They
wanted to shoot in the same widescreen
2.35:1 aspect ratio and take advantage of
the rack focuses and aberrations of
anamorphic lenses, but distributor Sony
Pictures Television resisted.
Working with Sony also meant
originating on the company's proprietary
F65 and PMW-F55 CineAlta cameras.
Both cameras can capture at 4K, which
was a crucial consideration for the series'
availability on Netflix, which wants Ultra
HD content, as well as its suitability to
Sony 4K Ultra HD TV sets. And that
was fine with Pope.
"I was intrigued by the F65,