(L-R) Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michael Hall D’Addario. (Credit: ©DreamWorks Distribution Co., LLC. All rights reserved.)
To hear cinematographer Salvatore Totino, ASC, AIC talk about his latest film, People Like Us, you can tell the project resonated deeply with him. The Dream Works SKG film, about a man who must deliver part of his deceased father’s fortune to a sister he has never met, stars Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer in writer-producer Alex Kurtzman’s feature directing debut. The story, written by Kurtzman, is quite a departure from his usual fantasy and science-fiction fare (Transformers, Star Trek, Alias and Fringe), and it really gripped Totino.
“I equate this film to a modern-day version of the psychology that was behind Italian neo-realism films,” says Totino. “This is a real story that has been fictionalized to some degree but is accessible to everybody. With that storyline, a lot of people will turn around and say I know somebody like that or that has happened to me or will know what it is like to be an illegitimate child. It’s so real, and that is what drew me to the film.”
Cinematographer Taro Kawazu
GANTZ, a popular manga series illustrated by Hiroya Oku, revolves around characters who, after death, somehow find themselves directed by a mysterious black sphere (GANTZ) to complete missions against aliens. Although the series' unique story dynamic seemed to defy live-action adaptation, two GANTZ movies have been made. Here, cinematographer Taro Kawazu and DI grader Seiji Saito share their thoughts on a larger-than-life live-action movie brimming with digital artistry and craftsmanship.
Working with a neutral yet uncompromising director, true to his vision
Kawazu: I was very apprehensive during initial talks about adapting GANTZ for the big screen. As a fan myself, I wondered how we could approach the series' unique story dynamic. I must admit, I even told the director, Shinsuke Sato it was impossible, but my negativity never fazed him. He was determined to face the project head-on, and his constant commitment to finding the best solutions for the material motivated me and everyone else involved. The director maintained a neutral attitude and was willing to incorporate as many good ideas as we could suggest. Yet at the same time, his creative vision was unshakable. He never simply deferred to a camera operator's judgment about scenes, and he insisted on deciding the positioning and cuts himself.