American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 62

◗

City of Stars

Right: The crew
shoots a scene
in which Mia
rushes to meet
Sebastian at a
movie theater.
Below:
Mounted on a
Hydrascope
telescopic
crane, the
camera
captures
Sebastian and
Mia's movie
date.

CinemaScope 55 process, which he
achieved by shooting a 4-perf Super
35mm gate at 2.66:1 and then cropping
slightly for 2.55:1. While the production used the full height of a Super 35
frame, Panavision equipped their
Panaflex Millennium XL2 cameras
with ground glass for CinemaScope 55
composition.
"Damien and I love the wide
1950s format," Sandgren says. "It gives
the audience more. We wanted to shoot
head-to-toe and get the epic feel. The
film was budgeted for 3-perf, but [our
version of CinemaScope 55 required]
62

January 2017

4-perf so we accommodated that by
rehearsing more and shooting less.
Shooting on film and in CinemaScope
captured the greens and blues of our
lights and the skies in a way digital
wouldn't have. Film exaggerates those a
lot."
The production did bring out the
B camera for straightforward dialogue
scenes, such as one in which Sebastian's
attempt at a romantic reunion dinner
goes south. "That was typical coverage
- a two-camera setup to get the acting
in sync," Sandgren notes. "It was very
simple: two angles and not even a twoAmerican Cinematographer

shot profile. Damien just wanted to be
on the eye-lines. It felt better to shoot
those scenes that way to be able to cut
between the cameras and build the story
through editing."
Throughout La La Land, bright
colors pop from the work of David
Wasco and set director Sandy ReynoldsWasco, from Mary Zophres' costumes,
and from the gelled lights. In this dinner
scene, an overpowering green glow
pushes into Sebastian's dingy apartment,
which is a reference to another 1950s
movie, though not a musical: Alfred
Hitchcock's Vertigo (shot by Robert
Burks, ASC) - specifically the apartment occupied by Kim Novak's character.
"Linus has this sensibility of
magic realism where everything feels
slightly heightened but nothing feels too
theatrical," Chazelle offers. "You might
not know exactly where the colored light
or that sense of unreality is coming
from. Linus and David were always
working on that. I would joke that we
wanted to take real settings and locations and make them look fake."
Sandgren says that for this particular scene, "We imagined a neon sign
outside Sebastian's window. It would be
the worst to have a light like that when
you're trying to sleep, but he wouldn't
care. He would embrace it and make it
romantic."
Hazen was prepared to light the
scene more conventionally with big
moonlight sources on condors across the
street when Sandgren made his surprising request. Instead he lit from outside
the window with a mix of daylightbalanced Kino Flo and LED tubes -
the latter being brighter and dimmable
- both gelled with Fern Green. Hazen
found it a bit much; he recalls, "When
we were lighting the scene a couple of us
told Linus, 'This looks horrible. Are you
sure?' And he said, 'It'll look great, trust
me.' Then I saw the dailies and I said to
him, 'I'm sorry. You were right - that
looks amazing.'"
"Our approach was to take what
the locations gave us and add a slight
amount of surrealism," Sandgren says. "I



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
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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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