DP Elswit Talks Nightcrawler, Inherent Vice

In award contenders Nightcrawler and Inherent Vice, cinematographer Robert Elswit redefines L.A. as millennial noir and ’70s counter-culture haven for first-time director Dan Gilroy and frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson, grabbing snapshots of who we are and the way we were.

Gilroy’s low-budget indie (made for $4.5 million and shot in five weeks) captures a nighttime Los Angeles we’ve not seen before. He avoided downtown and other iconic locales, and instead concentrated on the up and down geography from West Hollywood to the West Valley, where sociopath turned TV crime journalist Jake Gyllenhaal shoots his way to fame as a voyeur of grisly mayhem and murder. Newbie director and Oscar-winning DP (There Will Be Blood) prepped by driving around L.A. to efficiently incorporate 44 locations.

Elswit mainly lit foregrounds. Shooting digitally with the Alexa, he created an artificial feeling of streetlight, then shaped and lit whatever accidents or crime scenes Gyllenhaal shot on video. Naturally, he shot Inherent Vice on film for the analog-adoring Anderson and is currently lensing Mission: Impossible 5 on film for director Christopher McQuarrie.

“It’s still viable. It’s a different workflow and it looks different. The nice thing about the Alexa is that you can make it imitate the film curve and it doesn’t have an electronic look to it automatically. I think if you’re careful and you have enough time in post, it’s absolutely interchangeable.”

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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