Here’s the cover of the upcoming June issue of American Cinematographer, featuring the super villain Thanos from the blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War:
In his opening note to the issue, AC editor-in-chief and publisher Stephen Pizzello writes:
Excitement about the Marvel Cinematic Universe epic Avengers: Infinity War was palpable at a preview screening I attended at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard with managing editor Jon Witmer, associate editor Andrew Fish, our friend Jon Steely and my 12-year-old son Nicholas. The vibe reminded me of the electric atmosphere I experienced during my own moviegoing youth as I waited in theater-circling lines to see a pair of films that helped define the very phrase “summer blockbuster”: Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“Listening to the highly informed, amped-up chatter of everyone around us made it clear that Marvel’s superhero movies have become communal touchstones for a new generation of viewers who can recite the comic-book lineage of every character and who eagerly await the post-credits bonus scenes. As we took in the grand sci-fi spectacle, loud gasps, shocked exclamations and even a few sobs punctuated key plot twists — a sure sign of intense audience engagement.
My posse was thoroughly impressed by the amazing production values brought to the show by cinematographer Trent Opaloch and co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who are currently shooting the second half of the two-part Infinity Wars aga. Make no mistake: these movies are massive — eye-popping, galaxy-hopping adventures stuffed with top stars and stellar visual effects.
It’s therefore easy to understand why the filmmakers opted to conceive the movie for the 1.9:1 Imax presentation to “maximize” their frame. In our coverage by Mark Dillon, Opaloch concedes that the sheer scale of the undertaking was “pretty surreal. Nearly every day I would look over at Joe or first AC Taylor Matheson and say, ‘Oh my God,’ remembering which actors would be coming in. Things like that kept us going. We were shooting for about a year, and there was always something around the corner to look forward to.”
Connoisseurs of dystopian sci-fi have surely been looking forward to HBO’s reimagining of Fahrenheit 451, shot by ASC member Kramer Morgenthau. Canada-based Dillon also handled this assignment, shadowing Morgenthau and director Ramin Bahrani during a visit to the production’s sets in Toronto. Despite joining the show at the 11th hour, which required him to think fast and work even faster, Morgenthau calls the job “one of the best experiences I’ve had in years. It brought me back to my roots of independent filmmaking and re-inspired my love of cinema.”
South London is the setting for How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which cinematographer Frankie DeMarco shot in “digital Super 35 and a digital Super 16 extraction” for director John Cameron Mitchell’s story about an alien (Elle Fanning) who befriends an alienated punk rocker (Alex Sharp). Iain Marcks extracted all the details in a Q&A with DeMarco.
This issue’s additional feature articles cover a pair of standout projects scouted by our writers during this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Pat Thomson spotlights the true-crime drama American Animals — shot by Ole Bratt Birkeland, BSC — which she describes as “blending documentary and drama, indie-style naturalism and heist-movie tropes, anamorphic and spherical.”
Witmer writes up The Game Changers, a documentary about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Shot by cinematographers John Hunter Nolan and John Behrens for director Louie Psihoyos, the doc lived up to its name, inspiring Jon to become a fully committed vegetarian. (An online version of this story is available now right here.)
The issue also features an ASC Close-Up profile on Paul Sarossy, ASC, BSC, CSC. The cinematographer details his background, influences and key life moments: “Toronto was experiencing an amazing film renaissance just as I was leaving film school. Graduates with no experience in the real industry got incredible chances to be directors and cinematographers. I was director of photography on a low-budget sci-fi movie almost right after graduation; this solved the problem of needing a feature film on my résumé, and opened the door to a whole career.”
Look for the print and digital editions of the June issue to arrive soon.
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