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Mark Irwin, hardest working man in show business?


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#1 razerfish

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:12 AM

Was watching 10 Things I Hate About You and digging the camera moves -- excellent staging. So I decide to look up who shot it, and it's Mark Irwin. Then I see all his credits. The shoots up to four movies in a single year. That's pretty busy.

Now, where does all this camera staging come from? Director? Him? Compromise? I've seen many of the movies he's show, and can remember a bunch of them as having great visual jokes. Kind of a quick reveal to punch home the sight gag. Seems like he mostly does comedies, so he probably does help with the staging.

Anyone know this guy?
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 04:35 AM

Matt Irwin posts here, and if I am not mistaken he is Mark Irwin's son. Maybe he has some input.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 06:37 AM

Hi,

Any relation to Greg?

Phil
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 06:58 AM

He shot David Cronenbergs early movies , so it was mostly horror , now it seems to be all comedies, prefered his early work . john holland.
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#5 Matt Irwin

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 02:11 PM

Anyone know this guy?

I've met him once or twice :P . (Kevin's right, he's my dad)

I actually grew up on his sets as an uncredited/unpaid camera trainee, and I was on 10 Things for all but two weeks of shooting.

As for who designs the moves, it really depends on the director (among other things). A lot of the comedies he has shot were with first-time directors. On Dumb and Dumber, the Ferrelly Bros' first film, he and the 1st AD designed and coordinated all the shots while the Ferrelys directed the actors. Road Trip was much the same way, if I'm not mistaken. More often than not though, it's a collaboration.

He shot David Cronenbergs early movies , so it was mostly horror , now it seems to be all comedies, prefered his early work . john holland.

Funny you should mention that... He's been trying to get out of comedies for some time now. After shooting almost all of the Ferrelly Bros films, Old School, etc, he's been branded as a "comedy guy" even though he has a huge body of work in sci-fi, horror, drama, and action films. I think his last project, Flight 93, was a step in the right direction. (also his first HD feature)

I've mentioned these boards to him before, so maybe I can get him to post a better response to the original question (or dictate one to me).
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#6 razerfish

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 05:22 PM

I've met him once or twice :P . (Kevin's right, he's my dad)

I actually grew up on his sets as an uncredited/unpaid camera trainee, and I was on 10 Things for all but two weeks of shooting.

As for who designs the moves, it really depends on the director (among other things). A lot of the comedies he has shot were with first-time directors. On Dumb and Dumber, the Ferrelly Bros' first film, he and the 1st AD designed and coordinated all the shots while the Ferrelys directed the actors. Road Trip was much the same way, if I'm not mistaken. More often than not though, it's a collaboration.

Funny you should mention that... He's been trying to get out of comedies for some time now. After shooting almost all of the Ferrelly Bros films, Old School, etc, he's been branded as a "comedy guy" even though he has a huge body of work in sci-fi, horror, drama, and action films. I think his last project, Flight 93, was a step in the right direction. (also his first HD feature)

I've mentioned these boards to him before, so maybe I can get him to post a better response to the original question (or dictate one to me).


Tell him to stop by. I was blown away by how equisite the camera moves were for 10 Things I Hate About You. I own a bunch of movies he's shot -- I'm a comedy buff -- so I'll check out the others to see if they're all like that. I know the Farrelly Brothers have so many site gags that require a certain style.
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#7 fstop

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 07:37 PM

Funny you should mention that... He's been trying to get out of comedies for some time now. After shooting almost all of the Ferrelly Bros films, Old School, etc, he's been branded as a "comedy guy" even though he has a huge body of work in sci-fi, horror, drama, and action films. I think his last project, Flight 93, was a step in the right direction. (also his first HD feature)

I've mentioned these boards to him before, so maybe I can get him to post a better response to the original question (or dictate one to me).


It shows incredible versatility that Mr. Irwin has had two giant phases, "cult genre" specialist and "gross-out comedy" specialist. How much further apart can you be? I have one issue of Cinefantastique where they cover both Robocop 2 and Class of 1999, and I believe either Dark Angel or Terror Eyes and Irwin is mentioned in all three articles- he was ubiquitous!

There's definitely a divide in Cronenberg's visuals between the distinct photography of both Mr. Irwin and Peter Suschitsky. Irwin's pushes more for the grittier, minimal, instinctive aesthetic (in both expressionism and naturalism), Suschitzky's from a more stylised, somewhat intellectualised, photogenic approach. Obviously for the most part this reflects on the director's budget increases through the 1980s, but even stuff like CRASH is noticably slick and composed, while the above moderately budgeted Fly remake appears much more instinctively, solely source lit and reality based. Carol Spier's design work seemed to become more operatic rendered through Suschitzky's characterisitically soft lighting and wide angle lenses as oppose to the often minimal clastrophobia created with colour, light and space on films like The Brood, The Dead Zone and Scanners.

I think the biggest hoot is that Mr. Irwin photographed the original (?) post modern horror, Scream, yet also shot the second sequel to it's direct spoof, Scary Movie 3! If that isn't a pop cultural transition point, I don't know what is!
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#8 Chris Cooke

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 11:11 PM

I just saw "Flight 93" about a week ago on A&E and I figured that it was shot on HD. It had a lot of very emotional moments and the content seemed to be quite factual. As far as the cinematography goes, I was not particularly impressed with the overall look because it felt like a made for television movie that was shot on video. Although, at the same time I could tell that it was shot by a talented and experienced cinematographer. The lighting was quite nice and the camera moves were appropriate. What made it feel so low budget? I think that maybe the producer/studio was pushing for a certain crisp, "perfect" look. It didn't look like there was any color correction, probably all done in camera. I kept asking myself, what makes this feel like a low budget tv movie. No disrespect to Mr. Irwin. Any answers?
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#9 Matt Irwin

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 02:19 AM

Hey Guys,

My dad took a look at this thread and sent/told me me some responses. The responses that were sent were not formatted to post, so I will paraphrase somewhat (I have permission from him to do so). Whatever I put inside the [ ] comes from me.

I just saw "Flight 93" about a week ago on A&E and I figured that it was shot on HD. It had a lot of very emotional moments and the content seemed to be quite factual. As far as the cinematography goes, I was not particularly impressed with the overall look because it felt like a made for television movie that was shot on video. Although, at the same time I could tell that it was shot by a talented and experienced cinematographer. The lighting was quite nice and the camera moves were appropriate. What made it feel so low budget? I think that maybe the producer/studio was pushing for a certain crisp, "perfect" look. It didn't look like there was any color correction, probably all done in camera. I kept asking myself, what makes this feel like a low budget tv movie. No disrespect to Mr. Irwin. Any answers?

"it felt like a made for television movie that was shot on video."
That's exactly what it was. There wasn't even enough money in the budget for a studio large enough to accomodate a full length airplane interior. [For the record, the film was shot on Clairmont-Sony F900's with Fujinon E-Series zooms. Additional plates were shot with ZIU's and DVX100's.]

"I think that maybe the producer/studio was pushing for a certain crisp, "perfect" look. It didn't look like there was any color correction, probably all done in camera. "
I'd say the film was quite the opposite of crisp or perfect. The entire film was shot handheld with delibrate camera shake and snap zooms (at the request of the director). [If I remember correctly, he supervised several days of post. If it didn't look like there was any color correction, good. That's the point :)]

It shows incredible versatility that Mr. Irwin has had two giant phases, "cult genre" specialist and "gross-out comedy" specialist. How much further apart can you be? I have one issue of Cinefantastique where they cover both Robocop 2 and Class of 1999, and I believe either Dark Angel or Terror Eyes and Irwin is mentioned in all three articles- he was ubiquitous!

There's definitely a divide in Cronenberg's visuals between the distinct photography of both Mr. Irwin and Peter Suschitsky. Irwin's pushes more for the grittier, minimal, instinctive aesthetic (in both expressionism and naturalism), Suschitzky's from a more stylised, somewhat intellectualised, photogenic approach. Obviously for the most part this reflects on the director's budget increases through the 1980s, but even stuff like CRASH is noticably slick and composed, while the above moderately budgeted Fly remake appears much more instinctively, solely source lit and reality based. Carol Spier's design work seemed to become more operatic rendered through Suschitzky's characterisitically soft lighting and wide angle lenses as oppose to the often minimal clastrophobia created with colour, light and space on films like The Brood, The Dead Zone and Scanners.

I think the biggest hoot is that Mr. Irwin photographed the original (?) post modern horror, Scream, yet also shot the second sequel to it's direct spoof, Scary Movie 3! If that isn't a pop cultural transition point, I don't know what is!

Things change in life- you get a mortgage, you get another mortgage, you move to a new country, producers start making more comedies than horror films... and then you realize that while your son is growing up, shooting days is a lot more fun than shooting months of nights.

I have shot literally every kind of film that there is to shoot-- from pornos to industrials for ExxonMobil to low budget first time director flicks like Dumb and Dumber to big budget shows like RoboCop 2. And I shot them all for exactly the same reason: I was hired to shoot them. If I shot a horror film today, it wouldn't be a problem. Same goes for a drama, sci-fi, thriller, whatever.

I have made many friends, shot all over the world with people like Jackie Chan and Bill Murray and, in retrospect, have put together a career that people can examine and analyze and make assumptions on. The truth of the matter is that I usually take the next film offered because I have to.

So much for retrospection. 96 films to my credit ... so far. Over a billion in box office... so far. If you do the math, that's 3.4 films a year. That's where all the grey hair came from!

Thank you guys for the interest. All the best, and keep shooting! (Oh and no relation to Greg Irwin, though I have met him.)

Mark Irwin CSC/ASC
Los Angeles










And a quick correction on my initial post:

Road Trip was much the same way, if I'm not mistaken.

Todd Philips (the director) did, in fact, "have his poop together."
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#10 Matt Irwin

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 02:37 AM

There's definitely a divide in Cronenberg's visuals between the distinct photography of both Mr. Irwin and Peter Suschitsky. Irwin's pushes more for the grittier, minimal, instinctive aesthetic (in both expressionism and naturalism), Suschitzky's from a more stylised, somewhat intellectualised, photogenic approach. Obviously for the most part this reflects on the director's budget increases through the 1980s, but even stuff like CRASH is noticably slick and composed, while the above moderately budgeted Fly remake appears much more instinctively, solely source lit and reality based. Carol Spier's design work seemed to become more operatic rendered through Suschitzky's characterisitically soft lighting and wide angle lenses as oppose to the often minimal clastrophobia created with colour, light and space on films like The Brood, The Dead Zone and Scanners.

"Irwin's pushes more for the grittier, minimal, instinctive aesthetic (in both expressionism and naturalism)"

I think the bottom line is that different cinematographers have their own twist on certain genres. One of his mantras has always been "less is more", which I think has rubbed off on me quite a bit. Under normal circumstances, I know he goes for a natural look that is very much grounded in reality. Of course, "natural" can be a somewhat subjective term...
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#11 fstop

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 01:05 PM

"One of his mantras has always been "less is more", which I think has rubbed off on me quite a bit. Under normal circumstances, I know he goes for a natural look that is very much grounded in reality."


Ah, so not everything I said was over thought out, academic nonsense! Phew! ;)

Many thanks to both Irwins! :)
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#12 Alfred

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:53 PM

Let my preface this by declaring I love Robocop 2. One of the best big summer blockbusters of 1990.

Questions for Matt. How was the atmosphere on the set? Have you seen the MGM DVD transfer?

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#13 Matt Irwin

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 09:56 PM

Questions for Matt. How was the atmosphere on the set? Have you seen the MGM DVD transfer?


Well when that film was in production I was very young and did not spend a lot of time on set. I don't remember hearing anything bad about that shoot from my dad. I can say that on all the films that I have worked on with him, the atmosphere is always very easygoing. He has no tolerance for inter-department rivalry, which is not even much of an issue since he has been working with the same gaffer, grips, and camera department for at least ten years. We're like a big family.

I saw Robocop 2 on DVD fairly recently, but I'm not sure which release it was.
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#14 fstop

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 12:22 AM

LEGEND has it that The Blob remake was a very very very tough shoot. I've read and heard that it burned a lot of personnel out and had masses of post production photography. I'd love to hear how much truth there is to that!
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#15 Matthew Kerins

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 06:59 AM

I think scream was his segue into comedy. Absolute fantastic DOP completely underrated! 


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#16 Alex Birrell

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:59 PM

I'd really like to hear about the 1988 remake of THE BLOB too, it was always a favourite of mine when I was a little kid. One of the main things I remember are the really distinctive uncorrected HMI blue night exteriors.


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