The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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2012 Television
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As Brody’s memories gradually cohere and advance the story, the flashbacks take on a less extreme look, and when he embraces Islam, a different look is established, characterized by strong shafts of sunlight. “It’s his spiritual awakening, so we felt we could get more stylized,” notes Cragg. “We pushed a big Molebeam through the window and added more atmosphere to the set.”    A special look was also required for a drone attack, a critical plot point that explains Brody’s motivation. “We shot a lot of that at 48 fps, and I gave it a strong bleach-bypass look in the timing,” says Cragg. “It’s an intense, hyper-realistic look.”   “Intense” also describes the 90-minute season finale, which called for 200 extras and extensive action. But contrary to the norm for such big set pieces, “we decided to get closer to the characters,” says Cragg. The camera stays glued to Mathison and Brody as they struggle with their respective demons while racing to overcome external obstacles. “You’re not sure who’s good or bad,” Cragg observes. “Carrie is possibly crazy, and Brody, our terrorist, is possibly the sanest person on the show.”    Here and throughout the season, Cragg shot as much as possible with prime lenses.  “Often in television, you’re on an 11:1 zoom all the time, but that distances you from the characters, and it wasn’t really appropriate for this show,” he remarks. “We used prime lenses as much as we could, generally staying between the 20mm and the 65mm.”   In Brody’s climactic scene, Cragg operated the camera himself, trailing the soldier as he initiated a suicide bombing. The actor moved without marks through a dark, crowded bunker lit with narrow spotlights. “The images go from overexposed to really dark and back,” Cragg says. “We had one shot up in the corner on a 16mm, and then the rest was handheld on a 20mm or 24mm, right in his face. You’re watching him and wondering if he’s going to do this thing. It’s riveting.”    The finale closes with Mathison undergoing electroshock therapy, and Cragg again took up the camera. “I was standing on the bed and holding the Alexa right over Claire’s face as she was convulsing,” he says. “Originally, we were going to zoom in on her, but it didn’t feel right. We decided the camera should move, so I pushed in to about 6 inches from her face.” After four takes, Cragg’s legs were shaking. “Those were intense, draining scenes to shoot.”    — Patricia Thomson


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