Scene from The Normal Heart
Danny Moder didn’t set out to be a cinematographer, but filmmaking is in his DNA. His grandfather, Dick Moder, was a director and his father, Mike Moder, spent nearly four decades on the production frontlines of films like Jeremiah Johnson, Beverly Hills Cop, and Crimson Tide. And it was on that 1995 Tony Scott action flick that Moder got his first taste of life on the set, after nagging his father “enough that he let me try it out for a summer job, working as a production assistant.” From there, he was hooked.
In the nearly two decades since he began his career, Moder has amassed nearly 40 credits, most recently as the cinematographer on Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart, which stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, and Julia Roberts, who also happens to be Moder’s wife of a dozen years.
Director WALLY PFISTER on the set of Alcon Entertainment's sci-fi thriller “TRANSCENDENCE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Peter Mountain.
Oscar®-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister is making his directorial debut with Transcendence. The film follows Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, who is working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. Anti-technology extremists attempt to destroy Will but instead become the catalyst for him to succeed, and be a participant in his own transcendence.
“Imagine your brain suddenly being able to connect to the Internet, to have access to every bit of information there—financial, medical, political…” remarks Pfister. “What would you do with that kind of knowledge, that kind of ultimate power? Would you use it for the greater good, or your own gain, or something else entirely? This film gives moviegoers a chance to see the possibilities and wonder if it’s a choice they’ll ever have to face.”
Russell Crowe stars as Noah (Photo: by Niko Tavernise Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
The Biblical story of Noah and the Ark is brought to the big screen by director Darren Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique, ASC. The filmmaking duo previously collaborated on Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and Black Swan.
Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the man chosen by God to undertake a momentous mission of rescue before an apocalyptic flood destroys the world. Shot on location in Iceland and New York, as well as a few other locales, Libatique shares his approach to capturing Aronofsky’s creative vision in this month’s American Cinematographer. The two chose KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219, 250D 5207, and KODAK VISION2 100T 5212.
Elle Fanning in Low Down. (Credit Low Down Production.)
Christopher Blauvelt is a third-generation filmmaker who still treasures his grandfather’s Graflex 4x5 still camera. His grandfather was a grip, his grandmother worked in the costume department, and his father, uncle and brother are all in the camera department. His father gave him a POLAROID camera when he was 4 years old, and he’s been shooting ever since.
In addition to his family connections, Blauvelt worked as an assistant under the tutelage of the late Harris Savides, ASC. “Harris opened up new worlds for me,” Blauvelt recalls. “He challenged everything about the way things were done. He shared his knowledge for the most obscure and amazing movies.”
Scenes from the KFC spot. (Courtesy David Procter)
Since 2008, cinematographer David Procter and London directing duo Institute for Eyes — aka Luke Seomore and Joseph Bull — have collaborated on numerous commercials and music videos, as well as several documentaries that earned plaudits including a Golden Frog nomination at the Camerimage International Festival of the Art of Cinematography in Poland.
The team’s documentary chops came in handy on their most recent assignment, a commercial for KFC, the fast food franchise. Procter calls it “a very different piece of advertising.” The goal was to lend the brand a more human, organic and earthy quality — and the cinematography of the spot was an important aspect of communicating those ideas to viewers.