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The Astronaut Farmer

David Mullen

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#1 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 01:05 AM

I just watched this last night for the very first time.  A great film with a very tender story, excellent acting and stunning cinematography. 

 

David - I've been searching the archives for the answers to a few questions I have for you.  For one thing, all of the exteriors were absolutely stunning.  Did you add anything to the opening sunrise/sunset shots or was that all natural light?  Looked like natural light to me.

 

Also, I was very curious as to how you lit the rocket in these shots:

 

Astronaut Farmer.jpg

 

Finally, I loved the saturated colors.  They felt like a visual homage to the very vibrant period in America history when the actual NASA Space Program was in its glory.  It also seemed to be the visual depiction of what Farmer later says about "dreams."  Anyway, I was just wondering if you used any warming filters to create that effect.

 

Great work as always, David!  I think this one just became my favorite of all your works.


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 07:08 AM

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.  That opening sunrise was shot at White Sands, NM as a pre-production shoot with just me, the director, and a small crew, all available light, mostly on Fuji 64D.  New Mexico is a great place to shoot landscapes and the sunsets in the fall were spectacular.  I used a slight Coral grad on some of them but I didn't really need to.  Otherwise, the exteriors just used Polas and sometimes ND grads for the skies.  Warming was done in timing -- for dailies I used my trick of shooting the grey scale with a pale blue filter and then pulling it for the scene.  Was not planned for a D.I. so I did everything in camera, but in the end, Warner Bros. let us do a D.I. (which was not commonplace yet, that took another year or two to happen).

 

I saw an old night NASA photo of a Titan missile in a silo prepped for launch and it was lit with hundreds of work lights on the gantry, so I did the same thing, I asked the art department to put a bunch of halogen work lights on the columns on each side of the rocket, which lit the rocket for me.  I found that the reflective surface of the rocket was like an anamorphic lens, it basically stretched a light across the surface -- one florescent tube hung above the rocket, for example, with create a band of light down the whole length of the rocket, the width of the tube.


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 11:09 AM

Thanks, David!  What was the footage of the tube over the rocket?...


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 02:20 PM

I used that technique (or discovered it by accident) when I turned on a hanging florescent work light) in the separate set piece that had the lower half of the rocket in the basement of the barn.


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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 04:04 PM

A VERY happy accident!
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