American Cinematographer - September 2010 - 44
mask with his features painted on it. “That was actually common for a lot of veterans who’d been disfigured that way,” notes Freeman. Though Harrow’s mask is literal, he continues, “many characters are hiding behind masks, including Nucky; his girlfriend Margaret [Kelly Macdonald]; and his brother, Elias [Shea Whigham]. So I thought I’d play more with half-light in the episode. I often do a lot of sidelighting, but in this case I let the other side of the face almost fall off completely, not just with Harrow, but with all the characters at certain moments.” He also pushed a chiaroscuro look at times, heightening contrast “not just in deeper shadows, but in higher highlights, so the skin tone sometimes became alabaster. Ironically, because modern film stocks are so great at retaining highlights, that’s actually hard to achieve.” Morgenthau, in turn, favored toplight. “Kramer uses toplight in exquisite ways, creating very moody faces that just have a prick of eyelight,” says Freeman. “In terms of our split, he had a lot more work with the Al Capone/Chicago storyline, so tonally, it becomes its own little style within a style.” Morgenthau’s toplight was on display the day AC visited Steiner Studios, where Thompson’s penthouse suite and other sets were built. The crew was filming a scene in which Thompson accepts a visit from Jimmy (Michael Pitt), a former protégé who has partnered with the wrong people and is about to face Thompson’s wrath. “Number 25 at 75 percent!” Oates yells into his walkie-talkie. Overhead, a “chicken coop” comprising five 500watt Photofloods in a chicken-wire frame comes up. These units cover every inch of Thompson’s suite, hidden behind the removable muslin ceiling. “They were designed to be ambient light, but I’m actually using them as key light in some positions,” Morgenthau explains. “The toplight shapes people’s faces in a more imposing way and makes Nucky look more powerful. I
The show’s three cinematographers are (top to bottom) Kramer Morgenthau, ASC (far right, with director Jeremy Podeswa); Jonathan Freeman (right, with director Tim Van Patten); and Stuart Dryburgh, ASC, who shot the pilot.