American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 28

Left: Darius prepares his lunch in the kitchen of his trailer. Right: Cinematographer Alexandre d'Audiffret frames the
production's Arri Alexa Mini camera.

actor, which limited each day's schedule to 8
or 9 hours, every minute mattered.
To further streamline the work,
d'Audiffret planned to divvy each day's shot
list among four or five general lighting
setups, and he came up with detailed
diagrams for each of those setups ahead of
time. Working with a local grip and electric
crew in Arizona, d'Audiffret's initial apprehension melted into appreciation as he got
to know gaffer Jacen Sievers. "In France,
gaffers are more direct interpreters of what
you say, whereas in the U.S. I find the gaffer
has more artistic power," the cinematographer observes. "Sievers is only 24 years old,
but he was one of the best gaffers I have
worked with. He understood without needing to ask, and if he did ask it was because it
was needed. He used the tools he preferred
to work with, and I could trust him from
beginning to end."
The location for Darius' home was a
practical trailer, albeit a run-down one in
which floors had to be installed. The production carried a 6K generator, and the biggest
unit in d'Audiffret's arsenal was an Arrimax
M18 HMI. For a kitchen scene where Darius
is packing his lunch, the crew shot the M18
into Ultrabounce and let it come through
Quarter CTO and 251 diffusion before entering the trailer through the window as a soft
daylight key; an 800-watt daylight-balanced
K 5600 Joker-Bug was aimed through 251
and Quarter Straw to light the back area of
the kitchen.
Outside the trailer, the crew
controlled the natural light with large rags -
typically bleached and unbleached muslin,
Quarter and Full Grid Cloth, and Half Silk,
28

August 2017

complemented with black duvetyn. Sievers
carried a light meter, and he and d'Audiffret
aimed for a classic 2:1 or 3:1 contrast ratio.
"As we were rushing, my biggest concern
was keeping continuity between the shots
- the direction of the light and the shape
of the light on the face," the cinematographer recalls. "The face and the eyes are
most important. If light is the same on the
eyes [from one shot to the next], the other
mistakes are less important."
D'Audiffret operated the camera,
and when outside he used an Easyrig to
help him keep the camera on the eyeline of
his 9-year-old star. Inside the trailer, the crew
executed gentle moves with a Chapman
Cobra dolly, which is basically a column that
can also function as a riser within the shot,
making vertical moves possible, too. Despite
its condensed footprint, the camera operator can still ride the dolly.
The cinematographer and director
had more than seven months to prepare for
the shoot; during most of that time, d'Audiffret was in France, but he kept in touch
with Arenas through Skype sessions in
which they would discuss shot lists, color
palette, and influences such as Emmanuel
Lubezki, ASC, AMC's use of natural light.
"Alex has a great knowledge of lighting,"
Arenas enthuses. "He knows how best to
use natural light and not oversaturate."
D'Audiffret adds, "I always long for
my director to give me emotions, so that I
can focus on that and feel that part of the
story we are telling."
The director and cinematographer
spent the final week of prep together on
location with production designer Marcia
American Cinematographer

Calosio. The three of them were then able to
finalize all of the details inside the trailer.
Throughout post, the cinematographer was grateful that Arenas sent him
different rough cuts and allowed him the
opportunity to share his opinion. And thanks
to Arenas' friendship with Lubezki, Momma
found its way to Los Angeles-based colorgrading facility Shed, which was founded by
colorist Yvan Lucas. At Shed, the short was
paired with colorist Élodie Ichter, who
worked with FilmLight's Baselight system.
"She's amazing," says Arenas. "She comes
from the same school of thought as Yvan.
She has a great eye, and she found this
project fun to color because Alex had done
such a great job."
During prep, d'Audiffret designed
four reference LUTs that he sent to Ichter as
a guide for her work, along with mood
pictures and stills he had graded on set. Due
to a commitment on a commercial in France,
he was unable to join the coloring sessions in
person, but he kept in touch with Ichter via
Skype. "I told her to start the grade with skin
tones," the cinematographer notes. "If the
skin tones are right, you can do anything."
D'Audiffret's attention to detail, from
the amount of material he provided the
colorist to his down-to-the-diffusion lighting
diagrams, underscores his deep investment
in telling emotional stories to the fullest
extent of his abilities and resources. Following Momma, Arenas has another short and
a feature in mind to complete what he's
conceiving as a trilogy on the human condition and, specifically, loss. Looking ahead to
those productions, he says, "It is my wish to
go on this journey with Alex."
●



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

Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Intro
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 7
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 8
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 9
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 10
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 11
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 12
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 13
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 14
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 15
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 16
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 17
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 18
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 19
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 20
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 21
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 22
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 23
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 24
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 25
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 26
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 27
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 28
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 29
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 30
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 31
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32a
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32b
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32c
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32d
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 33
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 34
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 35
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 36
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 37
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 38
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 39
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 42
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 43
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 44
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 45
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 46
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 47
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 48
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 49
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 50
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 51
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 52
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 53
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 54
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 55
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 56
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 57
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 58
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 59
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 60
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 61
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 62
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 63
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 64
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 65
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 66
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 67
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 68
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 69
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 70
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 71
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 72
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 73
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 74
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 75
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 76
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 77
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 78
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 79
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 80
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover4
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