American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 66

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Sundance Standouts
colors, like fireworks, they didn’t have to be super-bright and super-saturated to read as this joyful pop,” notes Richardson. To give the nonprofessional actors maximum flexibility, Zeitlin asked Richardson to light for 360degree shooting as much as possible. Practical sources motivated all the lighting. In that storm scene, for example, a chandelier made of flashlights served as the source. “That was a bunch of 12-volt lamps producing almost no light, just a nice spill on the floor,” says Richardson. “I augmented that with one covered wagon and a small China ball.” The observational camerawork Richardson tried out during his selfappointed audition was just right for Beasts. “We built these outrageous sets, but I was very specific about not wanting to ever call attention to them with the camera,” says Zeitlin. “We were going to shoot this as a piece of realism. The camera was always going to be reactive as opposed to suggesting what’s cool in the frame. I just wanted to document characters.” (Documentary work, specifically Les Blank’s 1973 film Dry Wood, about Creole life in Louisiana, was the biggest inspiration for camerawork and texture.) A second guiding principle was that the camera would be consistently aligned with Hushpuppy’s perspective. In this respect the filmmakers took their cue from Jerrycan, a short film by Julius Avery about five bored kids who decide to blow something up. “I think they only had a 50mm lens on a 16mm camera, and they were riding around on bikes with it,” says Zeitlin. “I saw that and thought, ‘That’s how a kid experiences the world.’ The focal plane is thin; you’re picking out details as opposed to seeing the complete picture. That’s how I remember childhood, as specific flashes and tiny details.” “Pity my poor first assistant, Jason Knoll!” adds Richardson. “We shot the whole movie almost entirely wide open. I typically had six or seven stops of ND on exteriors, even when we were shooting the 200-speed stock, because we

Above: Using a boat fashioned from a pickup truck, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) embarks on her journey. Below: Executing a 25' “dolly move” on the water are (from left) cinematographer Ben Richardson, 1st AC Jason Knoll (partially visible next to Richardson), director Benh Zeitlin and boat captain Mike Arceneaux.

He rated the 7219 at EI 800 and the 7217 at EI 320, and then pullprocessed by 1-1 1⁄2 stops. “The pull process kept the grain under control, and when we printed it — printing it up a little, but rarely and not much — it kept the images darker, softer and a little flatter,” he explains. (Alpha Cine Labs in Seattle processed the negative and also handled dailies and the DI.) “I was metering to keep shadows down in the bottom range,” continues the cinematographer. “If there were a few bright things [in frame], they’d kick
66 April 2012

all the way up into the highlights but stay textural. Some of my favorite scenes are like that.” One example is a nighttime storm in which Wink hunkers down with Hushpuppy in their hut, their dark skin blending with shadows and wood. “When wet, the wood was really dark, but it had specular highlights, and I wanted to get those beautiful reflections,” says Richardson. Zeitlin generally favored images on the darker, less saturated side. “Because of that, when we see bright
American Cinematographer

Beasts of the Southern Wild photos by Jess Pinkham. Photos and frame grabs courtesy of Fox Searchlight.



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
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 26
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
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 49
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 50
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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
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 68
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 78
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 - 97
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 98
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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