In this 85-minute interview, M. David Mullen, ASC (seen below with series star Rachel Brosnahan) discusses his Emmy-winning work on the comedic Amazon Studios period drama The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with ASC President Stephen Lighthill — focusing on the new creative challenges and opportunities presented in the show’s third season, featuring major production numbers and new venues.
As Mullen details, the show — created by executive producer and frequent director Amy Sherman-Palladino — is photographed with Panavised Arri Alexa Mini cameras and Panavision Primo lenses. He employs Schneider Hollywood Black Magic, Tiffen Black Diffusion/FX or Schneider Black Frost filters to control sharpness and contrast to imbue the images with a nostalgic sheen when required.
Mullen studied filmmaking and cinematography at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he received his Master’s Degree. Since then, he has photographed almost 40 independent feature films, plus several television series and pilots.
He was nominated for the IFP Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography in 2000 for Twin Falls Idaho and again in 2004 for Northfork. Mullen won the Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Feature Cinematography in 2017 for The Love Witch. He was twice nominated for an Emmy Award and an ASC Award for Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, winning the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) for the series’ second season.
Mullen is also a member the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. His other recent television work includes Get Shorty, Westworld and the pilot episode of Designated Survivor.
You'll find an AC Podcast episode with Mullen about the second season of Mrs. Maisel here.
Honored with the ASC Presidents Award in 2018, interviewer Stephen Lighthill, ASC earned his masters degree in journalism at Boston University and later launched his career behind the camera in San Francisco, where he gained experience photographing documentaries and television news. He honed his skill in shooting on the fly and capturing natural realism on various programs, including 60 Minutes and On the Road with Charles Kuralt, as well as the infamous concert doc Gimmie Shelter, directed by Albert and David Maysles.
After getting a break operating for another future ASC member, Stefan Czapsky, on the indie drama On the Edge, Lighthill soon after was able to join Local 659. A natural educator, he helped train new guild members. He would later focus on narrative production, including such series as Earth 2 and Nash Bridges.
In 2001, Bill Dill, ASC — then chair of the cinematography program at American Film Institute — offered Lighthill a full-time faculty position. He is now the head of the AFI program and was recently elected for a second term as president of the ASC.