American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 30

At the last minute, the camera package had to be changed from shooting
35mm on Panavision cameras to NYU's inhouse Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta. Once digital capture had been confirmed as the
project's format, "the budget [mandated]
that either I could have an Alexa or I could
have a key grip," says Valladao, happy with
her decision to opt for key grip Sam Wolff.
"I had no time to test, and I hadn't
shot with the F55 before," she says. "I
knew the Sony world a little, but it's
constantly changing. I did research and I
was able to get my hands on a bit of F55
footage and color up a few little LUTs on the
day, [which were based on] Sony proprietary
LUTs." The production employed Cooke S4
lenses and framed for the 2.39:1 aspect
ratio.
Color temperature was set at
30

June 2018

4,300K, which warmed the tungsten
sources and blued the moonlight. The filmmakers were aiming for a teal and gold
look, with a strong contrast between practical lamps and moonlight. Valladao set her
exposure in camera and aimed to bake-in
her dark look, while the 4K color grade
focused on playing up teal and gold, as well
as silhouettes and saturation. The capture
codec was XAVC 4K. "And we used haze,"
the cinematographer says. "A lot of haze."
It was important to Wilson and
Valladao that the movie not feel like a
period piece, and that it would be shot in a
naturalistic way, often with a handheld
documentary style. "The takes were holistic
and organic, going through the whole
scene," Valladao says, "with passes for
different actors."
One night before shooting the
American Cinematographer

Bottom image by Laura Valladao.

Top: (From left) Gaffer Seth Margolies, writer-director Kevin Wilson Jr., hair and makeup artist Tyneshia
Knowles, sound mixer Aditi Mody, 2nd AC Kirsten Riccardi, Williams, Valladao (behind the camera),
Joshua Wright (portraying Emmett Till), and 1st AC Lin Que Ayoung shoot a scene in Mose's bedroom.
Bottom: The exterior lighting setup for Mose's home.

complicated climactic scene, which unfolds
across adjacent rooms with multiple characters and features minors, the crew gathered
at the location and spent hours standing in
and figuring out the blocking. "I ran around
and shot it doc style," Valladao recalls.
"There are the actors you see on screen, but
we also had to figure out where the other
seven [offscreen] people moving through the
house could be. I was moving with a handheld camera and there was no wireless
anything. I think a lot of the strongest
moments in this cut are reaction shots, and I
wouldn't have gotten much of that if we
hadn't done that run-through."
While rooms feature heavy moonlight
playing through the windows, illumination
for scenes at the porch and truck were motivated by a tungsten porch light and relied on
a 4' 4Bank Kino Flo. "I was tempted to do a
moonlight look," Valladao says, "but I was
thinking a lot about how to do realistic
moonlight with no budget and I quickly
decided that it was going to look really bad."
The cinematographer notes that her
extensive preproduction with the director
was essential in maintaining a smooth shoot,
and for keeping her and Wilson on the same
page. Valladao created a document that
included an extensive look book and shot
list, diagrams, and notes for other departments. "It was super 'micro-managey,' but
necessary and helpful," Valladao says.
"Every morning I'd take a screenshot of the
lighting overheads and text it to the gaffer as
marching orders - and I could send the
storyboards to the sound department."
While scouting for the film, Valladao
and Wilson visited the river where Emmett's
body was found. A historical landmark,
replaced 10 years ago, was riddled with
bullet holes. "It was really horrific," Valladao
says. "Kevin posted a photograph of the
sign on social media. The picture went viral
and people were arguing about whether it
was Photoshopped. It made me really
upset."
The filmmakers' Oscar nod is tinged
with sadness as well - as actor L.B.
Williams, who battled cancer during the
shoot, passed away before My Nephew
Emmett received its nomination. His intimate
portrayal of Mose Wright is an important
‚óŹ
legacy.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - June 2018

Contents
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Intro
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 1
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 2
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Contents
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 4
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 5
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 6
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 7
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 8
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American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover4
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