David Dart, NFL Films staff cinematographer
The questions are in and the answers are back! A big Thank You to NFL Films cinematographer Dave Dart for taking the time during playoffs to answer questions from our readers! You all came up with some great ones with topics including focus pulling, film stock preference, shooting style, and the romanticism of football on film.
There's a reason NFL Films has won over 100 Emmy® awards, and here's a sneak peak at how they do it!
(l-r)Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan and Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens Photo by David Appleby, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
When director Ralph Fiennes decided to bring The Invisible Woman to the screen, he turned to cinematographer Rob Hardy, BSC to help him transport his audience to Victorian England. Based on Claire Tomalin's 1990 biography of the same name, The Invisible Woman is centered on the true story of Charles Dickens’ relationship with actress Nelly Ternan. Dickens (also played by Fiennes) was 45, married, and at the height of his storied career when he met 18-year-old Nelly (Felicity Jones). The film chronicles their thirteen year secret love affair, which ended with his death.
Fiennes and Hardy had not worked together before, but instantly connected with a shared vision for the film. “Ralph is wonderfully obsessed with detail and wanted the story told in the most truthful way possible,” notes Hardy. “I had never shot a piece set in the Victorian era, and was itching to do one because I wanted to find a way to visually translate what that time may have been really like without romanticizing it. Adversely, the only reference point I had going into the project was an American photographer named Saul Leiter, who photographed the streets of New York in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The colors in those photographs were incredibly vibrant but also very succinct and painterly, which is something unique to film. So I went to a meeting at Ralph’s apartment and brought a book of Leiter’s work. I handed it to him, and he immediately said, ‘come with me,’ and took me upstairs. There on his walls were five original Leiter photographs. We knew in that moment we had found the way forward.”
Scene from Ram Leela. Photo courtesy of Ravi Varman.
Ram Leela is a Hindi drama based on the classic tale of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.” The script called for a subdued and hidden violent mood, but with romantic overtones. Cinematographer Ravi Varman felt that look could only be achieved using motion picture film.
“This was a particularly challenging job,” notes Varman, whose 27 features include the renowned Barfi. “As always, my goal is to capture the mood of the film and enhance it through colors, light and darkness.”
Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) shows Disneyland to Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). (Photo: François Duhamel) © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
When John Lee Hancock called about Saving Mr. Banks, John Schwartzman, ASC leapt at the opportunity. Although the film’s budget paled in comparison to Schwartzman’s previous assignment, The Amazing Spider-Man, it was a chance to shift gears and work on an adult drama with an old friend. “We’re very proud of the film,” says Schwartzman. “It’s a very small movie, but the story is compelling, and I think it’s some of my best work.”
The story is based on the fraught, real-life relationship between Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the Australian novelist who wrote the source material for what eventually became Mary Poppins. The story follows Disney as he cajoles and persuades the difficult Travers through a long and arduous creative process. The time period ranges from 1906 Australia to the 1961 opening of Disneyland in Orange County, California, and the Hollywood premiere of Mary Poppins in 1964. That film won five ACADEMY AWARDS® and earned an additional eight nominations, still a record for a Disney film. Mary Poppins also helped lay the groundwork for Disney’s long-term success in live-action filmmaking.
(l-r) Georgia King, James Callis, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie and Keri Russell. (Photos by Giles Keyte, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics).
Larry Smith, BSC teamed with Jerusha Hess for her directorial feature debut Austenland. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is a romantic comedy about a single, 30- something woman obsessed with all things Jane Austen.
Keri Russell stars as Jane Haynes, whose love life is being ruined by Mr. Darcy — played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice — as no real man can compare. Haynes decides to spend her life savings on a trip to an English resort that caters to Austen fanatics, and her fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined.