American Cinematographer - September 2010 - 68
A Beatle’s Upbringing
Lennon and his band, The Quarrymen, make their debut in front of a small but welcoming crowd at a garden party at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton. AC was on hand during the filming of this scene, which was actually shot in Hanwell, West London.
that we called ‘The Orphan’ because it’s very rarely used, and I loved that one. For the exteriors in Liverpool, we moved into slightly longer focal lengths. We shot predominantly on primes, although we did have zoom lenses for crane shots and things like that because it saves so much time. But I really like the look of the C-Series lenses; they’re older, which is nice for a period film, and they have a certain softness in the highlights. We combined them with a
68 September 2010
bit of diffusion, usually ¼ or ½ [Tiffen] Black Pro-Mist filters, and that’s really as close as we got to devising a look.” McGarvey felt no need to impose a consistent T-stop, as is often done on anamorphic productions. Day exteriors were sometimes shot at T8, while at other times he chose to shoot almost wide open. “Some people go to extraordinary lengths to shoot at T5.6 for an entire picture, including changing stocks during a scene,” he says. “Of
course, lenses do perform differently at different stops, and if you look at it on an analyzer there will unequivocally be a difference in quality, but sometimes you want to shoot wide open and you want that vignette because it has a poetic effect and looks interesting. I love distortions, whether they’re done with filtration, with the aberrations of a lens, or through an overexposed or underexposed image; all of these things are part of the palette of cinematography, and they have subtle, emotional effects on the viewer.” The production occupied one of the smallest stages at Ealing, and a lack of both space and money precluded the use of TransLites outside the sets’ windows and doors. Instead, production designer Alice Normington created painted backdrops, working with McGarvey to perfect the illusion. “I actually prefer the look of painted backdrops,” says the cinematographer. “TransLites are normally correctly exposed photographs, but when the camera’s looking out of a window, I tend to light the exterior overexposed because it feels more natural, and it’s very difficult to overexpose a TransLite. Alice had