American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 60

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City of Stars

Top: The camera - rigged on an Oculus Remote Head mounted to a crane - is in position for a
song-and-dance number with Stone and Gosling. Bottom: Two cameras are employed
simultaneously for a dialogue scene.

cinematographer's frequent collaborator
Davon Slininger operated the B camera
and functioned as second-unit cinematographer. Only one camera was
employed for musical numbers, as
Chazelle wanted it to be evident when
Gosling was actually playing the piano
and Stone was singing live.
"Damien wanted it to feel like we
made a great effort to capture things
without cheating," Sandgren explains.
"The dance sequences were shot with
one camera and the B camera might be
off somewhere shooting a plate or
another shot. We didn't shoot coverage
in those cases. He didn't want to shoot
60

January 2017

anything other than what you see in the
movie. Early in prep, we rehearsed the
dance numbers in a dance studio or a
parking lot [in collaboration with choreographer Mandy Moore] and later we
rehearsed on location. We revisited
frequently and recorded the rehearsals
on iPhones, both for the camera and the
crane positions to make sure we knew
what we were going to do. Some scenes
were rehearsed with full camera and
crane equipment for days in advance."
Sandgren is quick to note that not
only musical numbers were captured in
single takes, as the filmmakers often
wanted the camera to "participate in
American Cinematographer

scenes, like a character, and many scenes
were therefore blocked as single moving
takes to engage in the scene more physically." Opining that single takes were
the shoot's greatest challenge, he adds,
"It put lots of pressure on the actors as
well as 1st AC Jorge Sánchez, when
pulling focus - and on top of that
often in a very tight timeframe to
capture a specific time of day."
The cinematographer offers that
he learned a lot from working with the
music and choreography departments,
specifically in using "both the camera
and the light more like musical instruments. It gave us the opportunity to
work rhythmically, physically and
emotionally with the camera, and react
to the characters' inner feelings with
[lighting effects]."
Though the movie's retro feeling
certainly served as motivation for
capturing on film stock, analog is
Sandgren's general preference for his
projects. "Film has so many expressive
forms," he says. "When you choose
from Super 8mm, 16mm, 35mm and
65mm, you have more variety of looks
than by shooting digital and trying to
tweak later in post. We all know how
little time we have in post, and adding
looks at that point is always scary to me.
It's great to capture in camera if you
can, and more economical. When we
watched the dailies we fell in love with
the colors we got, and that's the general
look we kept."
Sandgren shot mostly on Kodak
Vision3 500T 5219 negative - including all night scenes - and on 250D
5207 for the few midday exteriors. They
tested pushing, pulling and normal
processing, and ultimately decided on
pulling for finer grain. Having rated the
500T stock at E.I. 200 and the 250D
stock at E.I. 100, Sandgren overexposed
by 11⁄3 stop, and then FotoKem in
Burbank pull-processed all footage by
one stop.
Both filmmakers had determined
that the film would be shot anamorphic. Chazelle, though, was expecting
they would frame for 2:39:1, but
Sandgren pushed for a nod to the



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

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 7
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48a
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48b
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 49
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