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The Director & DP Relationship: Collaborating on Character & Story

  • September 7, 2016
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
The Director & DP Relationship: Collaborating on Character & Story

After I completed production on Season 1 of AMC’s “Into the Badlands,” I invited our Director, Guy Ferland, to accompany me during a speaking educational event at Revolution Cinema Rentals, here in Los Angeles.  I wanted to talk about how we shaped the look and feel of the show, from pre-production all the way through our shooting of various fight sequences on set.

Guy was in New York working on another TV show and my amazing HV Team was able to link him up via Skype and have him LIVE with us.  It was an awesome experience for our Inner Circle members and attendees.  I wanted to share a small segment of something that I feel is incredibly powerful to the creative process.  This is one of my favorite scenes in the show where Quinn is luring MK in like a “snake” and both Guy and I found a beautiful way to capture this scene.  We break it down in this segment in the video, take a look.

The camera “snakes” across the ground as Quinn begins to “squeeze” MK
The camera “snakes” across the ground as Quinn begins to “squeeze” MK

Guy came to me before the scene and felt that this scene had a powerful nature to it where Quinn felt like a snake and would fall back in his seat, just coiling around MK.  

We built the tension by letting the camera “snake” across the ground to show the master shot of the room.  The variety of the closeups by moving in tight and sliding around on the MōVI made shots that would be somewhat basic to become much stronger and more powerful.  It was a simple scene that we were able to take time to light it with such grace and power that emulates Quinn’s power over MK.

We wanted to push over those foreground elements to have Quinn connect with MK in the sense that he is a “snake” that is getting into MK’s head and taking control.  It became a dance when Quinn would lean back and forth in his chair as he talks to MK, we would react to Quinn’s movements and we were able to do this because of the MōVI having that fluid nature of being able to move with the body of the character.  Imagine this scene on a slider or a dolly. It would have a very different style and cadence that would tell a very different story.

It is all about capturing the right mood and tone of the story with the right tools.  When we read the scene on the script, it didn’t feel like a “slithery” snake but once we got into the scene and we could play it through with the actors, you could feel the organic nature of the scene develop between Quinn and MK.

Over the shoulder on MōVI
Over the shoulder on MōVI

We captured all three angles on the MōVI flying in two M15s in the over-the-shoulder as our Master shot creeped in. This way, we were able to capture the emotion of the scene in dueling MōVIs in one take.

Over the shoulder on the MōVI
Over the shoulder on the MōVI
Looking through Quinn’s arm as if he is “coiling” around MK, squeezing him like a snake
Looking through Quinn’s arm as if he is “coiling” around MK, squeezing him like a snake

If you would like to learn more about the collaboration that created “Into the Badlands,” you can go here:  

The Director/DP Communication: The Blend of Art & Science

Here is a little teaser about the entire hour and a half presentation:

All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

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