American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 71

Unit photography by Richard Boeth, John Paul Filo, Craig Blankenhorn and David M. Russell, courtesy of CBS.

Opposite: Police
Commissioner
Frank Reagan
(Tom Selleck) and
his family are
cops and
attorneys with
points of view
that don't
always align, but
their shared
dinners remain
sacrosanct in the
series Blue
Bloods. This
page:
Cinematographer
Gene Engels
(center, wearing
blue hat) and
crew ready
multiple cameras
for a dinner
scene.

should be lit pretty quickly. There's no
second-guessing - I think that your
first intuition about how something
should be done is the best way to do it
almost every time. No matter how
complicated the lighting setup is, you
can't doubt yourself - you have to get
whatever passion you have for the
moment on screen."
Engels' passion is infectious
among his crew, whose energy remains
unflagging on one of the final shooting
days of the last episode of the show's
eighth season. Though one might
expect an air of weariness at this stage of
the game, the long-term nature of the
collaboration is in fact a boon to the
team's enduring enthusiasm. Many of
the tightly knit crew have been on board
since Season 1, and a fair number have
worked together for decades.
Key grip Jim Finnerty offers, "I
first met Gene in 1981 when I worked a
few days on Nighthawks and So Fine. I
was a company grip and Gene was the
gaffer." He continued to work with
Engels on productions, including such
jobs as key grip on the 1999 remake of

The Thomas Crown Affair.
"Gene's ability to assess a scene
and determine the lighting requirements necessary to create the final look
that he wants to achieve is a credit to his
years of experience as a gaffer and working with the top directors of photography in the industry," Finnerty says.
Engels confirms that his collaborations
with cinematographers and directors
like Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC;
Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC; Bob
Fosse; Mike Nichols; Ang Lee;
Cameron Crowe; Martin Scorsese;
Freddie Francis, BSC; Gordon Willis,
ASC; and others provided him with an
invaluable education. "I learned different things from all of those guys over
the years that impact how I work now,"
he says.
Regarding his current, timetested crew, Engels offers, "They know
how I think and what I like. I don't go
on scouts - I just send my gaffer or the
best boy and they're able to put together
the basic package that I need. As long as
I have that, I can do anything. It's what
I learned from Vilmos Zsigmond, who
www.ascmag.com

taught me that you don't need a lot of
fancy stuff - all you need is a source."
Engels began on Blue Bloods as a
gaffer, holding the position from the
very first episode until the middle of
Season 6, when he ascended to cinematographer. "My career as a director of
photography began on Hitch, which had
run over schedule by about a month,"
Engels recalls. "I was the gaffer and
Andrew Dunn [BSC] was the cinematographer - and when he couldn't
stay, he left the movie in my hands to
finish up. Of course, I had no card at the
time, so we made quick arrangements
with the local 600 and I ended up
shooting the last three weeks of Hitch."
In spite of a few prime gigs as
director of photography, like taking over
for Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC on
Wong Kar-Wai's My Blueberry Nights,
Engels opted to continue leading electrical departments. Having been
ushered into the industry by John A.
Alonzo, ASC and beginning as a gaffer
in 1973, Engels explains that working in
that capacity and renting out his equipment enabled him to take better finanJuly 2018

71


http://www.ascmag.com

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

Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 4
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 5
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 6
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 7
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 8
American Cinematographer - July 2018 - 9
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American Cinematographer - July 2018 - Cover3
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