In this episode, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC, ICS and director Joe Wright (seen together below) talk to interviewer Mandy Walker ASC, ACS about their romantic period musical — a new take on the classic tale by French writer Edmond Rostand — and their longstanding collaboration.
The filmmakers’ other projects together include the features Atonement, The Soloist, Anna Karenina and Pan, as well as the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive.”
Shooting Cyrano on location in Sicily, McGarvey and Wright sought an “available-light’ look while employing everything at their disposal to accomplish the right visual mood, framing the picture in 2.39:1 and pairing Leitz large-format lenses with Alexa LF and Mini LF cameras.
The choreography of the actors led McGarvey to imbue the picture with a sense of almost continuous camera movement, with operator (and frequent collaborator) Peter Robertson lending his talents to the show.
Mirrors and reflections play a key role in the look of the film, playing into the dramatic theme of “how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us,” says Wright.
Growing up in Armagh, Northern Ireland, at the height of The Troubles led Seamus McGarvey to embrace photography at a young age. He studied film and photography at The Polytechnic of Central London (since renamed the University of Westminster). Among other honors, he is a two-time ASC and Academy Award nominee, for his work in Atonement and Anna Karenina. His other feature credits include The Hours, The Avengers, Godzilla, The Accountant, Nocturnal Animals, Fifty Shades of Grey, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Greatest Showman and Bad Times at the El Royale.
British director Joe Wright’s other features include the period drama Pride & Prejudice (shot by Roman Osin, BSC), the spy drama Hanna (shot by Alwin H. Küchler, BSC), the thriller The Woman in the Window, and the World War II drama Darkest Hour (with the latter two films shot by Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC).
Interviewer Mandy Walker was born in Melbourne, Australia, and after graduating from high school, she studied film criticism and cinema studies with filmmaker and academic John Flaus. Her credits include Tracks, Hidden Figures, The Mountain Between Us and Mulan. On the 2008 feature Australia, she became she first woman to photograph a feature with a budget over $100 million, and she is also the first woman of the Motion Picture Academy’s Cinematographers Branch to be elected to the Board of Governors.
Reporting by Jean Oppenheimer
Photos by Peter Mountain, courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures