American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 42

Classic Hollywood
Cinematographer Danny Moder and
director Billy Ray
balance vintage styles and modern
sensibilities on Amazon's
old-Hollywood series The Last Tycoon.
By Jim Hemphill
*|*

O

n a soundstage of a historic studio lot that was once the
stomping grounds of John Ford, William Wyler and
countless other Hollywood legends, a group of contemporary filmmakers gathers to re-create a bygone era for
an episode of Amazon's new series The Last Tycoon. Based on
an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon
follows boy-wonder producer Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer)
and studio head Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) as they struggle
to reconcile the aesthetic, financial and technical demands of
moviemaking in 1930s Hollywood.
On the day that AC visits the set, the crew is shooting a
scene where Stahr and Brady face off against labor represen-

42

August 2017

tatives attempting to unionize screenwriters - a surprisingly
timely premise, given that at that very moment a writers' strike
(ultimately averted) is potentially about to descend upon 2017
Hollywood.
The contemporary relevance is not lost on director of
photography Danny Moder, who was attracted to The Last
Tycoon partly because of what it had to say about where
Hollywood started and where it was going. "The script for the
pilot really touched on a lot of interesting ideas about the
concept of how movies began, how they evolved, how innovative the technology was, and who the revolutionary thinkers
were," Moder says. "These guys were really the Steve Jobs of
their day."
Moder first became aware of the project when he
worked with director Billy Ray on the feature Secret in Their
Eyes. "I have a hard time looking past whatever job I'm
currently doing," the cinematographer notes, "but Billy kept
talking about this Last Tycoon thing - that he might have the
rights and he might be able to make it happen. Sure enough,
a few months after Secret in Their Eyes came out, Billy asked
me to read the script for the pilot."
Ray, who wrote and directed the pilot for The Last
Tycoon before going on to serve as the first season's showrunner - and director of additional episodes - notes that
Moder's collaboration was essential. "I don't consider myself to

American Cinematographer



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
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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
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American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 42
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American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover4
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