American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 24

TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1 4-perf Super 35mm Arri 535B, 235 Arri/Zeiss Ultra Primes, Canon, CMI Cinewand Borescope Kodak Vision2 200T 5217; Vision3 50D 5203, 500T 5219 Digital Intermediate

24

April 2012

American Cinematographer

4:44 Last Day on Earth photos courtesy of IFC Films. Additional photos courtesy of Ken Kelsch, ASC.

a very talented visual-effects supervisor, Michal Wolff. During the DI, we simply inserted the material, which had been scanned at 4K.” (Everything else was scanned at 2K.) With a laugh, Scharf notes, “Joseph and I had to deal with so many details on this film, we began to feel a bit like Eliezer!” The final sequence in the film finds Eliezer and his wife entering a convention center where he will finally receive an important prize. They walk through a passage that production designer Arad Sawat made out of heavy, white silk. “We lit everything with quartz lights positioned behind the silk,” says Scharf. “We probably had 50 800-watt bulbs.” Eliezer then enters a large auditorium, which is bathed in cold light. The stage seems to be backed by a blue wall, which turns out to be a huge LED screen that is showing out-of-focus images. “The LED lights produced enough ambient light that I only needed to add a few Kino Flos or cut the light a bit,” observes Scharf. As Eliezer waits backstage, 2x2 Kino Flos with tungsten tubesoverhead give him a bright backlight, while a small mist machine creates a bit of atmospheric haze. “We had to turn off the huge LED wall [for that shot] because it was casting blue light backstage that we didn’t want,” says Scharf. “We did a slow dolly into Eliezer’s face, during which we dimmed the fluorescents so that everything went dark. When we reached the end of the move and were looking into Eliezer’s face, we turned on the LED lights, bathing his face in blue. We see that the honor is more important to him than the truth. He has been searching for the truth his whole life, but in the end he doesn’t live the truth.”

Cisco (Willem Dafoe) and Skye (Shanyn Leigh) await the end of the world in 4:44 Last Day on Earth, photographed by Ken Kelsch, ASC and directed by Abel Ferrara.

I

Last Rites By Iain Stasukevich

Photographed by Ken Kelsch, ASC, Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth takes place almost entirely in a spacious Lower Manhattan loft, where aging actor Cisco (Willem Dafoe) and his painter girlfriend, Skye (Shanyn Leigh), spend their final hours engaged in meditation, painting, lovemaking and panicking on the day before the Earth is incinerated by a giant hole in the ozone layer. The end will come the next day at exactly 4:44 a.m. Kelsch, who first collaborated with Ferrara on the 1979 grindhouse classic The Driller Killer, muses that the director’s films tend to project a “gutter’s-eye view of the world.” 4:44 is their 16th feature together. “Abel’s strength — and this is why I love working with him — is that he always has a point of view,” Kelsch adds. Redemption is a theme in many of the stories Ferrara chooses to tell, and in 4:44, Cisco struggles with regret as well as addictions. “Yes, this is a film about addiction, and it’s also about sobriety,” says the director. “But this is not a documentary. This is an episode of TheTwilight Zone .” Kelsch shot 4:44 in 4K with a Red One upgraded with a Mysterium-X sensor. Although Ferrara has used digital capture on a number of projects, including the documentaries Chelsea on the Rocks and Mulberry St., he observes, “I don’t dig it. I’ve spent my whole life shooting film, and these

newer HD cameras come close to the texture, to the shadows, but I’m just not going to turn around and know how to shoot digitally.” Kelsch, on the other hand, felt confident enough about digital acquisition to recommend it for 4:44. “You do what you have to do to get a movie done, and Offhollywood gave us a great deal on posting a Red project,” he reasons.“Maybe digital wasn’t the all-around best choice, but if we’d had to shoot on a [Canon EOS] 5D, I would have. What else can you do but work with the medium you can afford? “Abel had had a very bad previous experience with the Red One, but I think it’s difficult for a director to judge the intrinsic value of an imaging device with someone else at the controls,” Kelsch continues. “This was my fifth project in a row with the camera. We had other options, but moneywise the Red was the best option.” Kelsch chose Cooke S4 prime lenses because he believed they would render the most flattering digital image. “Photographing actors over the age of 30 digitally terrifies me,” he says. “I don’t want to see every wrinkle on the actor’s face. The S4s are a lot more forgiving than the [Arri/Zeiss] Master Primes.” Ferrara’s films are known for possessing at least a certain amount of grit, and although Kelsch doesn’t consider himself “a heavy filter guy,” he tried to slip a Tiffen ProMist in front of the lens for some of Leigh’s close-ups. “That was quickly nixed by ‘Il Duce,’” he quips. “Abel doesn’t like beauty



American Cinematographer - April 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - April 2012

American Cinematographer - April 2012
Contents
Editor’s Note
President’s Desk
Short Takes: Polaris campaign
Production Slate: Footnote4:44 Last Day on Earth
Vice at the Vatican
Back to School
Sundance Standouts
Filmmakers’ Forum: Haskell Wexler, ASC
New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Alar Kivilo
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - American Cinematographer - April 2012
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Editor’s Note
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 9
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - President’s Desk
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 11
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Short Takes: Polaris campaign
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 13
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 14
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 15
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 16
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 17
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Production Slate: Footnote4:44 Last Day on Earth
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 19
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 20
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 21
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 22
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 23
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 24
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 25
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 27
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 28
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 29
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 30
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 31
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Vice at the Vatican
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 33
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 34
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 35
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 36
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 37
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 38
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 39
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 40
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 41
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 42
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 43
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Back to School
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 45
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 46
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 47
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 48
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 60
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 61
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 62
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 63
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Sundance Standouts
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 65
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 66
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 67
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 79
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 80
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 81
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Filmmakers’ Forum: Haskell Wexler, ASC
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 83
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 84
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 85
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 86
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 87
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - New Products & Services
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 89
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 90
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 91
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 92
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 99
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 100
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 101
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - International Marketplace
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Classified Ads
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Ad Index
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 105
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Clubhouse News
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 107
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - ASC Close-Up: Alar Kivilo
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Cover4
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