November Issue of AC Marks Giant Leap

Showcases work by Matthew Libatique, ASC; Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC; Linus Sandgren, FSF; Tod Campbell; and Ava Berkofsky and Paula Huidobro, AMC.

ASC Staff

On our Nov. cover, astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) prepares to rocket to the moon in First Man. (Photo by Daniel McFadden, courtesy of Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures.)

In his opening note for our November issue, laying out the primary contents, editor-in-chief and publisher Stephen Pizzello writes of the cover story:

Years ago, a friend and I visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where one of the NASA Gemini-mission space capsules was on display. As we stood there examining what appeared to be a large tin can, I was utterly flabbergasted that any human being could have the courage to sit in that contraption, atop a Roman candle of rocket fuel, and be launched into the cosmos. I suddenly grasped, with supreme clarity, that astronauts are not cut from the same cloth as civilians.

First Man confirms this conviction by placing the viewer squarely in the POV of U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, whose stoic mettle is conveyed in scenes that take him from training exercises through the Gemini 8 mission and his ultimate destiny aboard Apollo 11, which transported Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. As the movie’s title acknowledges, Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the lunar surface, forever enshrining himself as one of Earth’s iconic heroes.

In helping director Damien Chazelle envision the epic scope of Armstrong’s achievements, cinematographer Linus Sandgren, FSF creates an impressive degree of experiential immediacy, generating unforgettably claustrophobic tension in the capsule sequences. As Chazelle notes in Noah Kadner’s article on the project, “What really attracted me was the ‘mission movie’ aspect and [the opportunity to] strip away the mythology to tell a very you-are-there ‘documentary’ from the point of view of the person who actually experienced it.”

Following their safe return home, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were all named honorary members of the ASC for their exceptional camerawork, through which they shared their exploration and adventure with the entire world.

AC previously covered Sandgren’s Oscar-winning work in the musical La La Land (also directed by Chazelle) and the cinematographer recently sat down for an AC Podcast interview about his work in the period drama Battle of the Sexes.

AC contributor Michael Goldman was welcomed onto the set of the Amazon series Homecoming, where cinematographer Tod Campbell and director Sam Esmail walked him through the impressive environments built for the show on the Universal lot. Campbell tells Goldman that the duo’s goal was to make a show that “feels like a feature film,” while gaffer Chris Culliton adds that the main set, depicting a psychiatric facility for emotionally traumatized Iraq War veterans, was treated as “a character in the story” that expresses itself through the crew’s strategic manipulation of light and colors.

A tempestuous romantic relationship is memorably traced by Matthew Libatique, ASC in A Star Is Born, helmed by first-time director Bradley Cooper — who also stars as a revered rock musician whose struggles with drugs and alcohol intensify after he meets, mentors and marries an aspiring female singer (played by Lady Gaga) whose raw talent begins to eclipse his. The movie’s concert sequences provide emotional insight by keeping the camera onstage with the main characters. “Everything had to have a subjectivity expressing Ally’s experience of going from performing in a small club and having a day job to sharing the stage with one of the most famous musicians in the world,” Libatique tells Jim Hemphill.

AC most recently covered Libatique’s work in the psychodrama mother!.

This issue further explores its theme of “creative collaborations” in Michael Kogge’s enlightening Q&As with Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC and director Drew Goddard about their striking work together on the mystery-thriller Bad Times at the El Royale.

AC most recently covered McGarvey's work in a report on his harrowing drama Nocturnal Animals.

Coverage in the November issue also includes:

• An ASC Close-Up interview with King Baggot

• Jean Oppenheimer’s piece on the half-hour comedy-drama series Insecure, shot by cinematographers Ava Berkofsky and Paula Huidobro, AMC

• David Heuring’s Q&A with Ballers head writer and executive producer Rob Weiss and cinematographer Anthony Hardwick.

• Shot Craft: Working with Smoke and Fog effects

Be sure to get this great issue of American Cinematographer, and subscribe today to our print or digital edition to make sure you never miss another.

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