IAWTV, THE PICKS: "Best Cinematography"
We hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving! Andy and Avi certainly did. There was much food, family, friends, and yes the occasional tweet of gratitude to all of you who've been so much a part of the success of C&E. Despite being written post Thanksgiving, this week's blog on our IAWTV submissions is no less applicable to the holiday. This week we talk about cinematography and the contribution of one of the people who was there right at the beginning. Our DP extraordinaire Jefferson Loftfiled.
See which episode we felt highlighted Jefferson's work best after the jump.
THE CATEGORY: “Best Cinematography”
THE PICK: Episode 6, “Dueling and Diapers”
SEE IT HERE: www.cupidaneros.com
ANDY: I have to say that this is a special category for me since our Cinematographer, Jefferson Loftfield, is a friend that I have known and worked with for almost 9 years now. We met at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jefferson working on his masters and me on a bachelors, both in Film Production. Even though we’re a generation apart, a kinship developed as I realized his keen eye and creative prowess and I hope he realized mine, since we have collaborated on several shorts – he was the cinematographer on a film I directed and I the producer for him. And Jefferson, along with his girlfriend and our script supervisor, Erin Connarn, introduced me to Avi so I can say that Jefferson has brought talent and blessings into my life.
Working on Cupid and Eros was a challenge for Jefferson because most of the scenes did not play out in small venues. And of course our budget was not big, so the lighting and grip package, camera package and crew size were small but Jefferson pulled it off and on a grand scale – showcasing a true talent to give the cinematic visuals Avi and I wanted while meeting our tight timelines. At this point I should give a shout out to Ravi Gahunia, our Key Grip, because he graciously worked with our budget constraints in providing his great grip & electric package. I should also mention that Jefferson engaged a great crew within each of his departments – camera, grip, and electric. Hats off to all these guys and gals. With Jefferson’s direction, the scenes exploded in a great way.
I had a hard time deciding the episode for this category being intimately aware of the decisions for all the shots. Considering just the final framing that the viewer sees was only part of it. I wanted to also consider the intricacies that Jefferson and his team maneuvered in bringing us a shot from a rooftop when the only way to get the shot involved climbing a small ladder to a very small platform. Or when block shooting was required because we didn’t have enough equipment to light the entire room, e.g. filming all the shots with the camera looking one direction and then turning all the equipment around to shoot the other direction. These were challenges that tested Jefferson’s skills.
For me, episode 6 became the clear choice, much like it did for Production Design. Long shots required Jefferson to light the background actors while highlighting key performer(s). A dolly shot as Apollo walks through the crowd toward Cupid and Eros needed the right timing to part the crowd while keeping the focus on Apollo. Eros’ intimate shots in the bathroom gave little space for lighting and camera. And then there’s the number of lighting setups in this episode – more than 25. All of these factors really show the breath of the scenes that pushed Jefferson’s talents.
I am so happy and proud to have Jefferson as the cinematographer for Cupid and Eros. I’ve seen his continual growth in his craft and wait anxiously to work with him again.
AVI: One of the things that scared me about moving to L.A. From NYC was losing my crew. Between my time at NYU and the years I spent living and working in the city I gathered together a pretty great core group of filmmakers who I worked with constantly. It was a bit terrifying to come to a new city and feel like you had to build those kinds of relationships up from scratch. Lucky for me, my very own apartment building saw fit to help me solve just that very problem. I met Jefferson not long after he moved to L.A. when he became my neighbor. It wasn't long before we started talking about working together and as previously detailed on this blog, he was part of the orginal group (along with Andy, Erin Connarn and Jo Bozarth) with whom the idea of a C&E web series was hatched.
By the time we started shooting C&E we'd already done several projects together—there was already a short hand between us that allowed us to be on the same page creatively even before the first shot was composed. His talent is visible all over our fist season, but I picked this episode for a particular reason (and it's not just that beautiful Jib shot at the end, something we hadn't even shot listed, but that Jefferson realized was there, waiting for us). This episode, perhaps more than any other in the season, showcase Jefferson's ability to take a sub-optimal situation and make it work brilliantly.
If we'd had a studio sized budget, the Moose Lodge in Glendale where we shot our Inter Panethon Mixer would have been a piece of cake to shoot in. Plenty of room to store gear and hold cast and crew when they weren't needed, a great looking room that fit perfectly with the feel of the script. But then of course, we didn't have a studio sized budget. The challenge Jefferson was faced with was how to use that big auditorium, how to shoot it all and not make it feel like we were faking a larger space—and how to do that in a way that made it look good.
I think Jefferson met the challenge brilliantly. He crafted a plan that made the most of the gear we had, and allowed us to shoot the auditorium out in pieces so that it could feel like we had many more lights at our disposal than we did. He found opportunities I had overlooked in my shot lists to imbue scenes with movement (the aforementioned Jib shot being a prime example) so that the audience really feels like they're in the space. And with his lighting, he captured perfectly that same fine line that Vicky and I had discussed as being the core of our show's tone- the balance between the mythic and the mundane. Here we had a gathering of gods, but Jefferson understood the need to never let the look of the episode become too stylized, too dramatic. Instead, I think he got the feel exactly right... look around at mixer, at the way the lights are a bit low, but not too low. It's as if the chaperones simply weren't comfortable with anything that could be misconstrued as “mood lighting” It's a subtle thing, perhaps not the flashiest or most obvious contribution, but for me it's a perfect example of the outstanding work he's done on the show as a whole.
Well folks, there you have it. Another category down. As always, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below, and check back here on friday when discuss the one, the only, Jo Bozarth and her work bringing Eros to life.
– Avi and Andy