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The Astronaut Farmer


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:11 AM

I ran across this internet article on the movie, covering aspects of the design (not the cinematography though.)
http://www.collectsp...ws-013107a.html

Tonight it got two "thumbs up" on Ebert & Roper (Roper and guest critic Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly). I wasn't mentioned though Roper described the movie as being a "Technicolor" experience of some sort. Schwartzbaum commented on how interestingly the Polish Brothers framed their farm scenes.
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#2 Jamey Johnson

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:52 AM

I caught the Ebert & Roper "two thumbs up" the other day on television. They praised the cinematography and Billy Bob Thornton's straight performance. I'm looking forward to seeing this. I'm almost positive you mentioned this, but I can't find where I read it- What did you use for the POV shots from the press/media cameras?
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:32 AM

I caught the Ebert & Roper "two thumbs up" the other day on television. They praised the cinematography and Billy Bob Thornton's straight performance. I'm looking forward to seeing this. I'm almost positive you mentioned this, but I can't find where I read it- What did you use for the POV shots from the press/media cameras?


It was a Panasonic DVX-100B in 60i mode, but we rephotographed the image off of a TV set, and then in post we messed up the colors and contrast to make each shot look like it was from a different camera, not the same camera in multiple spots. And of course we had to zoom into the image while reshooting it off of a monitor since the images were 4x3 and we were shooting 2.35 anamorphic.
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#4 Matthew Buick

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 04:19 PM

Most confusing, but I assume you know what you're doing.

I praise you for your brilliant camera work, I'm going to see it on sunday..I think...it must feel wonderful seeing this amazing work on a massive screen, and knowing that you did it.

You are not only a great cinematogarpher, but a great chap in general, you certainly deserve all the enormous praise you are getting.

Best of luck for the future.
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#5 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 04:31 PM

It was a Panasonic DVX-100B in 60i mode, but we rephotographed the image off of a TV set, and then in post we messed up the colors and contrast to make each shot look like it was from a different camera, not the same camera in multiple spots. And of course we had to zoom into the image while reshooting it off of a monitor since the images were 4x3 and we were shooting 2.35 anamorphic.


That sounds pretty cool, i'm a big fan of the use of news-footage in Welcome to Sarejevo, where they film it in anamorphic of a tv screen.

There's nothing worse than the glossy look of a 'tv filter' slapped on the top to make something look 'news.'
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 06:44 PM

Obviously real news photography looks a lot more professional than the deliberately sloppy DV work I was doing, but we wanted a dramatic textural shift. During the AVID edit phase, we mostly cut the DV in directly and it looked too clean (and the wrong aspect ratio), hence why we refilmed it later off of a monitor, and then made it look worse in color-timing.

I tried to give everything a generous amount of headroom since I knew I was going to be cropping most of it, but not so much headroom that a 4x3 version was completely useless.
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#7 Matthew Buick

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 06:50 PM

Well, you certainly know what you are doing, I'd have never thought of that. :)
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 07:05 PM

Obviously real news photography looks a lot more professional than the deliberately sloppy DV work I was doing, but we wanted a dramatic textural shift.


Well, you'd be surprised. Is there a California equivalent to Cleveland's "19 Action News"? If you've seen the Southpark episode about network ratings and the Southpark elementary's TV news show, it's like that, only a lot sadder because it's a real-life television news show and not a spoof. One of the things I especially like about the show is that almost all of their ENG mobile cameras are SD, so on the sides, what do they do in the 16:9 broadcast? THey have two blue bars that say "HD" along the edges, like that's going to fool us :rolleyes: There was also a famous episode (although this is indicative of poor content, not poor technical quality) where one of the attractive female news anchors was supposedly "reporting" on a mass group nude photo that was being organized; they shot her bare from the shoulders up, and supposedly she was going to be in the nude photo after the broadcast too :blink: I really wish they still shot the TV news on 16mm VNF. . .
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#9 Jan Weis

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 07:07 PM

Matthew, can you please stop stalking Mr Mullen? I mean enough is enough!


/Jan
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#10 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 02:38 AM

I get in good moods where I' proud of my photography, then I watch movies like The Astronaut Farmer, and it puts it all back into perspective for me...But I'll continue to dream. It's nice I can tell you that you are an Inspiration to me David, and you get to read it. Like fan mail, that you want to read!


Great Job! B)
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 05:40 PM

Schwartzbaum commented on how interestingly the Polish Brothers framed their farm scenes.


I'm sure that they had a lot of input into the look they wanted you to impart to your film, but does it ever bother you when critics give the directors all of the credit for work that had little to do with them and almost everything to do with you? I've never liked the "auteur theory" myself. It's good when director, cinematographer, crew, and actors are all working with the same goal, but I think there should be more of a confederacy instead of a director-dominated hierarchy or a studio-controlled set.

Personally, from the work of yours I have seen David, you have a gift with framing. The moving shots I've seen in your films are certainly not shots your average director could have just scripted out. If you were working for Hitchcock or Kubrick sure, they did it, and maybe I'd give some credit to your compositions if it were a Spielburg film, but there are a lot of modern directors that are much less knowlegeable technically than was true in the past.

~Karl

[Edited because I don't know how to spell.]

Edited by Karl Borowski, 13 February 2007 - 05:42 PM.

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#12 Jamey Johnson

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 05:49 PM

I'm sure that they had a lot of input into the look they wanted you to impart to your film, but does it ever bother you when critics give the directors all of the credit for work that had little to do with them and almost everything to do with you?




I wanted to ask this myself, but didn't want to be the one who asked it ;) . I thought the same thing when I was watching Epert & Roper- maybe not to the extent of "little to do with" the Polish Bros., but definately a shared vision that is not often credited.
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#13 Matthew Buick

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 06:02 PM

Matthew, can you please stop stalking Mr Mullen? I mean enough is enough!


Wha...? So I'm not allowed to talk to one of my favourite cinematographers am I ???? :angry:


I get in good moods where I' proud of my photography, then I watch movies like The Astronaut Farmer, and it puts it all back into perspective for me...But I'll continue to dream. It's nice I can tell you that you are an Inspiration to me David, and you get to read it. Like fan mail, that you want to read!
Great Job!


Indeed.

On my weekly teenage saunter to my local Fish & Chip Shop I always take the back alley, just to admire the way the cold white light from lamposts, hitting the mossy 1930s red brick walls of the backs of the local convenience stores and casino, and reflecting on to the damp tarmac alley.

There's a certain beauty in this otherwise depressing scene, I think it is light that gives the slightly dingy enviroment that beauty, perhaps it's just the fact that the reflections give the alley a Stuart Brereton sort of feel (I really love his style, he deserves a big award...or perhaps BSC membership) or perhaps it's the fact that this sort of light gives me a sense of hope...that wherever you look there's always going to be God.

Perhaps I should shut up and stop spilling my guts to all the meaner people here.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 09:56 PM

To some extent, I've stopped minding so much about directors getting a lot of the credit. The average reader is interested in movie stars first, directors second, cinematographers somewhere down the list. And it's hard for a film reviewer to even know who did what anyway.

And composition on the Polish Brothers movies is really a collaboration; they are gifted visualists too, which makes my job easier. They'll suggest a shot and I'll say "sounds great!" and I'll suggest a shot and they'll say "sounds great" -- it goes back and forth with us. And I know what they like so it isn't so hard to set-up something that they will like. We like the "painterly frame" although it's a somewhat nebulous concept.

A good director makes good cinematography possible.
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#15 Jamey Johnson

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 10:39 PM

In regard to the "painterly frame", do you find it hard to maintain that standard throughout a shoot. I rewatched Northfork last night, and every cut in the movie is painterly, and it doesn't let up through the movie. It made me wonder if there are often shots that are cut or reshot, not because they are bad, but because they are not as majestic as the rest.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 11:19 PM

"Northfork" was shot in only 24 days and there wasn't much waste in shooting, nor time for reshoots.

A lot of this starts with the script -- sometimes you mainly just have to concentrate on capturing the scene action and the acting, so framing it in some sort of obvious artistic fashion isn't a high priority. I think you'll find that "Astronaut Farmer" is not as painterly or lyrical as "Northfork", just as "Jackpot" wasn't, because it's a different sort of story. It has a sort of comedic drive and lightness that "Northfork" didn't call for.
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#17 Daniel Smith

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 07:35 PM

Talking about fame and what have you, that pile of cack I called 'Check Mate' has quite literally made the editor and the sound editor famous within the college, because they starred in it. People are coming up to them and throwing catch lines out of the movie at them.

So far I haven't had anyone say anything to me, and I made the entire thing!
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#18 John Holland

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 01:32 PM

Wha...? So I'm not allowed to talk to one of my favourite cinematographers am I ???? :angry:
Indeed.

On my weekly teenage saunter to my local Fish & Chip Shop I always take the back alley, just to admire the way the cold white light from lamposts, hitting the mossy 1930s red brick walls of the backs of the local convenience stores and casino, and reflecting on to the damp tarmac alley.

There's a certain beauty in this otherwise depressing scene, I think it is light that gives the slightly dingy enviroment that beauty, perhaps it's just the fact that the reflections give the alley a Stuart Brereton sort of feel (I really love his style, he deserves a big award...or perhaps BSC membership) or perhaps it's the fact that this sort of light gives me a sense of hope...that wherever you look there's always going to be God.

Perhaps I should shut up and stop spilling my guts to all the meaner people here.

Matt , what you said about looking where the light is coming from and reflections ,is brilliant thats the best way to learn been doing it for 30 years , best post you have every done.
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#19 Matthew Buick

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 03:31 PM

Why, thank you.

I should say more stuff like that, I felt I was revealing too much of my emotions to mean people like "Chuckles".
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#20 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 01:41 PM

Thanks, a bunch, David. reading your stuff combined with the movies is like a film school in itself.

I'm guessing you'll have some "How did you...?" questions coming soon.
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