DP Bradford Young Talks Selma, Violent Year

It was a great year for cinematographer Bradford Young, who’s risen to the top of his craft with two Oscar contenders about the turbulent ’60s (Selma) and the decaying ’80s (A Most Violent Year).

Interestingly, Bradford used a similar visual strategy for Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King biopic and J.C. Chandor’s heating-oil gangster drama by juxtaposing a sense of beauty with grit. For Selma, DuVernay wanted a Kodachrome look inspired by Look photographer Paul Fusco (best known for covering the RFK funeral train procession). For A Most Violent Year, Chandor and Bradford were inspired by photographer Jamel Shabazz, who captured the vibrant youth culture amid the decay of the Bronx and Brooklyn in the ’70s.

“Jamel Shabazz liked a creamy, warm tone and that’s what we used in Violent Year,  Young explains. “It’s disarming but with a little lift in the shadows. Paul Fusco created this morose but creamy quality that I was trying to achieve in Selma. We played with the angles and the atmosphere to put you back in that time.”

“I had to switch gears for ‘Selma’ because David didn’t resemble himself,” Young continues. “During the screen test, it was so apparent that he looked like King. Top light lends itself to creative iconography. When he’s smoking on the porch, the profile shot is one of the best representations of King. David brought the weight gain and the things that he does with his mouth and his eyebrows. I think all we had to do was accentuate that delicately and it would bring a certain gravity to it. People would have some sort of visceral connection and some sort of cerebral connection with his performance.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Movies, Oscar, Tech, Trailers

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