Director of Photography Mark Doering-Powell has received two Emmy nominations for his work on “Grown-ish”, the spin-off of ABC’s “Black-ish” currently airing its fifth season on Freeform (and streaming on Hulu). Mark shares how cinematography helps establish a collegiate look that distinguishes itself from the parental perspective of the original, and we discuss in cinematic detail the fourth season episode recognized at this year’s Emmys.
Showtime’s “Kidding”, starring Jim Carrey, aired two 10-episode seasons from 2018 to 2020. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s worth checking out. Today, though, 1st Assistant Director Katie Carroll and Set Dresser Phil Bufano are sharing insights about a specific scene they filmed for the third episode of Season 1. The scene itself is a marvel of what crew can do without visual effects, and you can watch it yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0ykvDu-jUw (it’s only two minutes long).
Sometimes a movie adaptation is true to the book that inspired it; other times . . . there are compromises. My guest today is Max Brooks, author of "World War Z", the 2006 novel upon which the 2013 film (produced by and starring Brad Pitt) was loosely based. Max takes us along for the journey, from the bidding war (sorry, Leo!) to the premiere (and what Max wanted to say to Brad but didn’t). Join us wherever you get your podcasts.
2018’s “Donnybrook”, now streaming from multiple sources, is both an engaging action drama and an examination of poverty in the United States. That’s no small feat, and I’m happy to welcome back Production Designer Michael Perry to share his contributions in service of this film’s lofty ambitions.
Climate change is real, and how best to respond is an ongoing debate. But other than producing an environmental disaster movie every other year, what can Hollywood contribute to the conversation? My guests today, Pam Rittelmeyer (former camera assistant, now Postdoctoral Scholar of Science Governance at UC Davis) and Rae Binstock (playwright, screenwriter, and co-writer of the Climate Storytelling Playbook) discuss how the Industry is engaging the issue and how all of us — filmmakers and audience members alike — can be part of a storytelling realignment.
A critique of the horror genre that often rings true is its tendency to rely on the “male gaze”, where the film both presumes and caters to the heterosexual male viewer. “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin”, which recently concluded a 10-episode season on HBO Max, is doing something different. Cinematographer Anka Malatynska talks with me about reinterpreting horror tropes from a female perspective and the collaboration required to deliver on this idea.
Everybody knows that actors and directors have professional agents, but what about the crew? Sometimes the people behind the scenes need people of their own. To kick off Season 14, Marilyn Lintel (Storyline Public Relations) and Craig Mizrahi (Innovative Artists) join me to talk about representing Below the Line talent.
Principal photography for the “The Old Man”, the FX series starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow that ran for seven episodes earlier this year, started in November 2019 but didn’t finish until March 2022. Propmaster Scott Buckwald returns to the show to discuss the complexities of navigating first COVID and then Jeff Bridges’s lymphoma diagnosis over the course of bringing this dynamic series to the screen.
Production Designer Joshua Peterson and Cinematographer Adam McDaid talk about collaborating on “Everything’s Trash”, the Brooklyn-based sitcom starring Phoebe Robinson as a podcaster facing adulthood (streaming on Hulu). They talk about Brooklyn as a character and how both their departments deal with the crazy challenge of reflective surfaces. And of course we all agree that podcasters are HOT right now.
“The Princess”, currently streaming on Hulu, is basically an extended fight sequence: Joey King, the titular heroine, can only escape her prison tower by battling through an army of mercenaries. Now imagine filming those scenes — out of order — over a period of 12 weeks, and you have an inkling of the challenge faced by the Hair and Makeup Designer Lynda Armstrong. Lynda speaks with me about the pleasure of working with Joey and the difficulty of getting hair products delivered from London to Bulgaria in a timely fashion (thanks, Brexit).
Pair Oscar-winning makeup effects artist Howard Berger with veteran film journalist Marshall Julius, and what's the result? A globe-spanning selection of makeup artists sharing the secrets of their craft. Both Howard and Marshall are here this week to discuss “Masters of Make-Up Effects”, a new compendium that will soon be on the bookshelf of every film buff you know. Learn more about the book and upcoming signings at mastersofmakeupeffects.net.
Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis”, like all of his films, is an audacious fusion of sight and sound, and Wayne Pashley, the owner/co-founder of Big Bang Sound Design, has been working with Baz for more than 30 years. Credited as the re-recording mixer, sound designer and supervising sound editor on “Elvis”, Wayne is uniquely qualified to talk about the “sonic glue” that helps hold the whole construct together.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is a Nicolas Cage film that’s basically . . . a riff on Nic Cage. Principal photography took place in Hungary and Croatia, but two weeks of LA reshoots gave Property Master Mikey Trudel a chance to work his craft closer to home. Adhesive finger tape that delivers a knock-out chemical? Yeah, that’s a complicated prop.
HBO Max’s “Our Flag Means Death” is 10 episodes of comedy that manages to be both thoughtful and absurd, delivered by an all-star cast and a rotation of hilarious guest stars. 1st Assistant Director Emily Hogan returns to the show to talk about wrangling this ensemble through a series of unexpected adventures, including the Mystery of the Disappearing Beach and The Boat They Built on Stage.
"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" is an unexpected pleasure: amusing, poignant, and heartwarming in equal measures. It’s also a major technical achievement, and Production Designer Liz Toonkel talks about the challenge of creating the whimsical world of Marcel and his shell community within the limitations of a reality where the principle character is 1-inch tall.
For the second half of our look at Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down”, Harry Humpries (Senior Military Advisor) and Kimberley Ann Berdy (LA Production Coordinator) dive deep into the challenges of filming those epic battle scenes in Morocco. Plus, Kim joined the crew in country for what sounds like a pretty epic wrap party.
Season 13 starts off with a look at “Black Hawk Down”, Ridley Scott’s 2001 epic war film. My guests are Senior Military Advisor Harry Humpries and LA Production Coordinator Kimberley Ann Berdy, and the first half of our two-part discussion focuses on pre-production: sending the actors to military training camp, purchasing helicopters that production could actually destroy, and getting everything to Morocco in time for filming to begin.
“The First Lady”, now finishing its inaugural season on Showtime, takes the audience behind the scenes through a century of Presidential history. Makeup Department Head Carol Rasheed talks about designing First Lady looks that typify each historical period while remaining timeless. Oh, and we also talk about Barack Obama’s ears.
“Roar” is a show with something to say, and Production Designer Todd Fjelsted talks about reinforcing that message through all eight episodes of this Apple TV+ anthology series. Budget and schedule always complicate production efforts where anthologies are concerned but — as Todd explains — this project also offered a degree of freedom that’s unusual in the Industry.
Storytelling is more than just what the script describes, and today we’re talking with Cinematographer Shawn Peters about how his work on Apple TV+’s “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” helped shaped the look of the limited series. We also talk about Shawn’s unusual career path, and - for listeners who stick around to the end - how collaborating on set is like being in a relationship.
Costume Designer Helen Huang returns to the podcast to talk about “Station Eleven,” the 10-episode miniseries that aired on HBO Max last winter. This was probably my favorite tv series of both 2021 and 2022 (so far), and it was interesting to speak with Helen about designing for a post-apocalypse where hope is not dead.
Of all my work in Hollywood, 2003’s “Big Fish” was one of my favorite projects (I was the 2nd 2nd Assistant Director). For this episode, I’m joined by screenwriter John August, who I met when he visited us on location in Alabama. John talks about working with Tim Burton and the challenges of being a writer on set. Oh, and did you know there was a Broadway adaptation of the movie? I had a few questions about that as well.
2020’s “Promising Young Woman”, despite its limited budget and short shooting schedule, is a tour de force. My guest today, Production Designer Michael Perry, talks about approaching each set with either “masculine” or “feminine” intentions, and how those intentions subtly contribute to the overall story.
“The Walking Dead” will wrap it’s 11-season run on AMC later this year. The series is filmed just outside Atlanta, and my guests today — Best Boy Grip Frankie Zamora and Grip Nicole Higgins — talk about their work on Season 10 of the show. Do Grips on Walking Dead work much harder than the Electric Department? Listen and decide for yourself.
Taylor Sheridan’s “1883”, currently available on Paramount+, is a prequel to the hugely successful “Yellowstone” series (four seasons of which are exclusively available on NBC’s Peacock streaming service). My guest today is the Lead Editor, Chad Galster, who shares stories about how his long relationship with Taylor informs his work on this standalone, attention-getting series.