SPONSORED BY: Panavision
The cinematographer discusses his work in the comedic romantic-drama Amazon series, for which he has earned ASC Award and Emmy nominations for his expert camerawork.
Unit photography by Nicole Rivelli
About the Project
The period romantic-comedy series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) — stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a housewife in late 1950s New York City who accidentally discovers that she has a knack for performing stand-up comedy.
Largely photographed on location in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, the series has a realistic yet heightened visual style achieved not only through its photography by M. David Mullen, ASC but a team of key collaborators including production designer Bill Groom, supervising art director Neil Prince, set decorator Ellen Christiansen and costume designer Donna Zakowska.
In the show’s second season, the story called for location work in Paris and the Catskills region of upper New York State, further expanding its impressive visual scope.
The series is primarily shot with ARRI Alexa cameras and Panavision Primo lenses, with dailies and finishing through Light Iron (with supervising colorist Steve Bodner).
The high-energy show employs a constantly moving camera, frequently utilizing Technocranes and Steadicam/Movi combinations:
Mullen has photographed 11 episodes Maisel of over two seasons (alternating with Eric Moynier).
About the Cinematographer
Immediately after graduating the Masters Program at CalArts, cinematographer M. David Mullen, ASC started shooting independent features in 1991.
His early influences were Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (for his use of color symbolism and color photography in Technicolor movies) and Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (for their use of diffusion).
After spending most of the 1990s shooting non-union straight-to-video genre movies, Mullen started shooting more art house fare aimed for film festivals.
His 13thfeature film, the quirky indie drama Twin Falls Idaho, directed by Michael Polish, gained acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999 and was released theatrically that year. Mullen earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his camerawork and was able to secure an agent.
In 2001, Mullen shot the first 24P HD digital movie to be released in theaters, Jackpot, also directed by Polish.
His next collaboration with Polish, the stylized drama Northfork, was released in 2003 and Mullen was not only able to finally join the camera guild, but invited to join the ASC in 2004, as well as receive his second Spirit Award nomination.
In 2006, Mullen started to work in television when he was hired to shoot the second season of the HBO series Big Love. After this, he started shooting pilots for series including The Good Wife, Designated Survivor and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Mullen’s other television credits include United States of Tara, Smash, Extant, Get Shorty, 2nd-unit work in the first season of Westworld and additional photography plus an entire episode in season two of the HBO sci-fi western series.
His feature credits also include Akeelah and the Bee, The Astronaut Farmer, Assassination of a High School President, Jennifer's Body, Stay Cool, Big Sur and The Love Witch (featured here in AC Podcast #74).
Mullen also updated the classic textbook Cinematography with original author Kris Malkiewicz, and has written a number of articles about his own work for various publications, including American Cinematographer.
Mullen is an avid still photographer and has a very active Instagram page.
You’ll find his personal site here.
American Cinematographer interviews cinematographers, directors and other filmmakers to take you behind the scenes on major studio movies, independent films and popular television series.Subscribe on iTunes