Recycling genres, troubleshooting studio politics and making scandals disappear might have been too much of a cross to bear for Josh Brolin’s Eddie Mannix in Hail, Caesar! But for cinematographer Roger Deakins, it was a fun return to the cockeyed caravan of working with Joel and Ethan Coen.
“The thing was not to go too far with the films-within-the-films because it wouldn’t flow as a unified piece,” said Deakins, who, of course, shot on film once again. “And it helped that most of the time you’re seeing the films on a screen in a dailies room or during a sequence at a movie premiere.”
“For me and and lighting, while on those sets, we came back wide enough to see how they were lit,” Deakins suggested. “I was back using direct light, which I don’t use much and certainly not in that kind of way. It’s back to more of classic way of lighting. They were all different challenges and they wanted different techniques utilized.”
For the Roman epic, Deakins went for that gold and red look with warm, rich tones. For the black-and-white drawing room comedy, it was a cheap, hard light and for the singing cowboy western, he emulated the two-strip (red and green) Trucolor process utilized at Republic.
But the hardest part was the bizarre Soviet defection scene with Tatum that was part of the actual plot. It plays like Ben-Hur in Malibu, culminating with the emergence of a submarine. “It’s played to be somewhat fake and the house on the cliff is out of [North By Northwest],” Deakins continued. “It was pretty close to what we had in our heads.”
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