American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 80
At Home and at War
Cinematographers David Klein, ASC
and Armando Salas break with
tradition on History's Six, shooting
smooth and steady on the battlefield
and handheld at home.
By Jim Hemphill
he new History series Six is an ambitious production
that aims to capture both the professional challenges and
the home lives of the men of SEAL Team Six, the
United States' elite counterterrorism unit. A creation of
father-and-son writing team William and David Broyles
- both of whom have extensive military backgrounds - the
project combines rigorous journalistic detail with visceral,
kinetic filmmaking to place the viewer in the shoes of its characters. While building on similarly themed films of recent
years, the series takes its visuals in new directions, an approach
that cinematographer David Klein, ASC developed with
director Lesli Linka Glatter in the first episode.
Klein and Glatter already had a common language
thanks to their previous collaboration on Homeland, so it
didn't take long for them to zero in on what they wanted to
prioritize in Six: exploring the state of mind of the SEALs.
"They're so highly trained that a lot of them are more
comfortable carrying out missions than being at home with
their wives and children," Klein explains. "They come back
from a war scenario and then get busted for forgetting to take
out the trash. It's a difficult transition, and we wanted to tell
that story visually."
To that end, Klein and Glatter decided to turn the usual
technique of shooting everything on the battlefield in a messy,
handheld style on its head. "We decided to stabilize and grip
the battlefield sequences," Klein says, "relying on operator
Rick Davidson's rock-solid Steadicam, and [operating in]
studio-mode on [dollies and Technocranes]. A reference for
this was the World War II film Fury [AC Dec. '14], where
David Ayer and cameraman Roman Vasyanov [RGC] went
away from the handheld vibe and gripped their cameras."
Other visual references included Zero Dark Thirty (AC
Feb '13) - shot by Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS - which Six