American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 65

Unit photography by Douglas Kirkland, SMPSP and Beatrice Aguirre, courtesy of Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures. Additional photos by Alex Henning, courtesy of Magnopus.

O

n Oct. 13, 2010, a global audience of more than one billion
people watched the televised
rescue of 33 miners who had
been trapped underground for 69 days
following a cave-in at the San José
copper and gold mine outside
Copiapó, Chile. Broadcast live, the
rescue marked the culmination of a
nearly 10-week effort by geologists,
engineering and mining experts,
NASA, the Chilean government, and
dozens of multi-national corporations
to find and extricate the men, who were
buried 2,300' beneath the Atacama
Desert. The miners - 32 Chileans and
one Bolivian - became known around
the world as "The 33."
"It's similar to the moon landing
in that everybody knows what the
actual rescue effort looked like, so we
had to be as accurate as possible in
every detail," says cinematographer
Checco Varese, ASC, who was behind
the camera for the story's feature adaptation, The 33, based on the book Deep
Down Dark by Héctor Tobar. Varese
and director Patricia Riggen - who
also happen to be married - therefore
decided to shoot in practical mines
rather than re-create the environment
on a soundstage. "There was no particular advantage to being on a stage,"
Varese told AC in a series of in-person
interviews at his home in Los Angeles.
"I wasn't going to cut a hole in the

Opposite and this page, top: Disaster strikes when a gold and copper mine in Chile caves in, trapping
33 miners for 69 days in the real-life tale of The 33. Bottom: Cinematographer Checco Varese, ASC
(center, pointing) and director Patricia Riggen (right) plan a scene.

ceiling and hang a light, because there
was no light in the actual mine
except for headlamps and flashlights.
Furthermore, a stage would severely
limit the amount of space we had to
work in."
Indeed, The 33 was shot in two of
the most extreme natural environments
imaginable: Chile's Atacama Desert,
where most of the film's exteriors were
set; and in two underground mines in
www.theasc.com

Colombia that contained no natural
light whatsoever. Filming began in
Colombia in December 2013 and
continued for three weeks. After a short
Christmas break, the production shot
another three weeks in Colombia before
relocating for a six-week shoot in Chile.
The larger of the Colombian
mines was in Zipaquirá; the vast salt
mine comprises 9 miles of winding
tunnels connecting multiple subterDecember 2015

65


http://www.theasc.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - December 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 10
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 11
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 12
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 13
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 14
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 15
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 16
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 17
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 18
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 19
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 20
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 21
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 22
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 23
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 24
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 25
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 26
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 27
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 28
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 29
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 30
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 31
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 32
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 33
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 34
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 35
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 36
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 37
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 38
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 39
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 40
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 41
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 42
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 43
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 44
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 45
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 46
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 47
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 48
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 49
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 50
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 51
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 52
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 53
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 54
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 55
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 56
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 57
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 58
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 59
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 60
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 61
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 62
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 63
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 65
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 66
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 67
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 68
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 69
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 70
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 71
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 72
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 73
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 74
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 75
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 76
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 77
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 78
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 79
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 80
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 81
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 82
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 83
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 84
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 85
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 86
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 87
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 88
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 89
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 90
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 91
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 92
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American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 96
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 97
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 98
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American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 100
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 101
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 102
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 103
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 104
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 105
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 106
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 107
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 108
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 109
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 110
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 111
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - 112
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - December 2015 - Cover4
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