American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 68

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Time Independent

Above: Cole and Railly arrive at the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, where they finally
meet Athan. Right: An Arrimax is positioned on a lift outside the church entrance.

away. Most of the story takes place in
the late 1800s, and I liked the simplicity
of it - it's basically a love story between
two people in the past, Eliza [Claire
Cooper] and Athan [ James Callis], who
is also 'The Witness,' and one of them
knows the future. We had to marry the
two worlds through different visual
choices. The director, David Grossman,
and I agreed we should make the day
material look bleak and desaturated and
the interiors and night scenes warm
because of the contrasting themes
during the day and the night. We also
used a studio dolly approach and went
with classic framing to suggest a classic
love story that just happened to involve
a time traveler. We did a lot of northsouth moves, coming closer to the character and arriving into a 'cowboy' frame
so you can read the person's emotion
and also see the environment.
In the restaurant where Athan
takes Eliza to dinner, we basically did
wide shots and close-ups. We wanted to
observe more and allow the actors to tell
us where to go, visually. For lighting, we
bounced Dinos into 12-by-20 Claycoats
outside the windows to suggest the feel
of gas lamps. Inside, we had Boris
Lights with white duvetyn and 12-by
frames of Light Grid on T-bars. That
location had hundreds of practicals, all
CFL bulbs that weren't dimmable, so
our Czech gaffer, Martin Granilla, had
68

July 2018

his crew replace them all with incandescent bulbs and wire those to dimmers. It
was probably 3,000 bulbs! We dimmed
them down completely. David and I
never light with practicals - they're
ornaments. David Grossman would
joke about it: 'I count only seven practicals in this shot. You need another one.'
The episode ends in a grand
cathedral where Railly and Cole finally
meet Athan, who is standing over
Eliza's casket. The location was the
Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, which
is surrounded on two sides by a small
cemetery where many Czech greats are
buried. The cemetery cuts off exterior
access to the large central window that
dominates the interior. We knew we
somehow had to push light through the
stained-glass windows behind the altar,
but no machinery could be put in the
cemetery or on the small street alongside the cathedral - there was a maze
of catacombs underneath it. We tried to
figure out what could carry enough
Arrimaxes at a reasonable height to
pierce through the thick stained glass
from a distance; Martin and I slaved
over the challenge, and we finally found
something that would work and
submitted it for approval. At the same
time, I lobbied the church officials to
allow our special-effects supervisor,
Pavel Sagner, to put light atmosphere
inside the cathedral so we could see the
American Cinematographer

streaks of 'sunlight' and create mood in
the cool interior. For the large window,
we found an LRX-type light in
Germany and sent for it, but we discovered it wasn't effective from the distance
we had to maintain with it. So, the day
of the shoot arrived; it was heavily overcast, and we had no solution for the
dominant window.
Grant Harvey was directing his
portion of the scene, which continued
into the following episode. We set up
the first shot away from the grand
window, and as the Arrimaxes came to
temp, I saw Pavel bring in the big smoke
machines - the bishop had agreed to
permit light atmosphere just minutes
earlier. So, the light streaks showed up,
and some balance returned to the
universe! Then, as we completed our
work in that direction, Martin and I
turned to the grand window, and a
glorious streak of unlikely natural
sunshine hit it. We started yelling and
the actors took their marks, and God lit
the scene for us.
●

TECHNICAL SPECS
1.78:1
Digital Capture
Arri Alexa Classic, Mini
Cooke 5/i, Leica Summilux-C



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

Contents
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