American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 42

Darkness
Gains

Dimension
Better Call Saul adopts a vérité
approach to night exteriors in the
series' third season, shot by
Marshall Adams, ASC.
By Rachael K. Bosley
*|*

W

hen Better Call Saul creators Vince Gilligan and Peter
Gould began discussing the third season of the show
with cinematographer Marshall Adams, ASC, one
question that arose was how to approach the big night
exteriors that feature prominently in the first two episodes,
"Mabel" and "Witness," both of which Gilligan would direct.
In these sequences, Mike Ehrmantraut ( Jonathan Banks) tries
to find out who placed a tracking device on his car and why.
This nocturnal quest takes him all over Albuquerque, N.M.,
42

July 2017

and its outskirts, where his stops include a power plant and a
rail yard.
Adams had worked with Gilligan and Gould before, on
Breaking Bad - the show from which prequel-series Better
Call Saul spun off - when he shot some pickups and an
episode ("Live Free or Die") that was directed by series cinematographer Michael Slovis, ASC. "One thing I loved about
the look Vince and Mike developed on Breaking Bad was
those big, giant wide shots, but that style isn't conducive to
night exteriors, where you're usually trying to get in some kind
of backlight," says Adams. "As I thought about those night
exteriors in the first two episodes of Saul, I thought it would
be fantastic if we could get that kind of scale. I knew that
meant lighting only with practicals."
Adams suggested testing Panasonic's VariCam 35,
which has a 4K CMOS sensor that facilitates two native
ISOs: 800 and 5,000. The camera had been on the market for
about a year, and Adams had used it on a night exterior in the
series Rush Hour. He recalls, "It was a scene that had three
people talking on the edge of a cliff near Dodger Stadium,
with the city lights visible off in the distance. We couldn't

American Cinematographer



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - July 2017

Contents
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Contents
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41A
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41B
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