So what’s in Deakins’ kit? “I have all sorts of things, really,” he responds. “A lot of wooden ring lights. They might be 2-, 4- or 6-foot rings with sockets that carry ordinary household bulbs. Then I have long strips that usually carry mushroom bulbs, which we’re using here for firelight effects. I also have little circular aluminum rings that take 100- or 250-watt halogen bulbs; they’re 12 to 18 inches in diameter — very lightweight little rings of bulbs. And I have those same kinds of bulbs on strips, and also side-by-side on a little piece of armature wire; you might have three abutting 100-watt bulbs, which I can hide behind a practical or on set. It’s just a quick way of getting a bit of light somewhere.”

On Jarhead, Deakins employed another secret weapon: his legs. As a dedicated runner, he was ready and able to race up and down the dunes or across a dry lake carrying a camera. “Some guys on the crew would just make it up the face of the dune and be barely breathing,” says Napoletano. “Luckily for us, Roger and the actors were in good shape, which made it easy for us to get numerous takes.” The gaffer adds, “I could see his English side, which is very competitive. He kept looking back to see who was hanging with him.” One day, Napoletano recalls, Deakins was running after Foxx full tilt for 300 yards on the dry lake. “Roger stayed right with him — carrying the camera! Jamie was pretty much blown away by that.”

“I can do pretty good for an old guy,” Deakins confirms with a laugh. “It was really fun, actually.” For those running shots, Deakins and second camera operator Scott Sakamoto used two Arri 3-Cs, adapted from the World War II-era Arri 2-C. Because of their light weight and hand pistol grip, “you can go incredibly fast, although it was not possible to keep an eye to the eyepiece. It was just point and shoot.” But because the cameras didn’t have to be kept on the shoulder, Deakins notes, they created “a really good effect — a jarring motion, but not bouncing. Scott Sakamoto, our wonderful second camera operator, had a good thing going; he put on an old-fashioned parallax-type sight with a couple of sticks, so he could tell where the top of the frame was when he was running. Scott also had his own custom-made wheelchair dolly, which we used to get some fast handheld shots at times. Of course, he is also one of the best Steadicam operators around, so we took advantage of that for a couple of scenes, including one that’s set on a bouncing truck bed.”

Reflecting back on the experience, Deakins laughs again. “It was really back to basics at times, what with our World War II cameras and all the running after people. It was good.”   



Super 35mm 2.35:1

Arricam Lite, Arri 3-C

Cooke S4 lenses

Kodak Vision2 500T 5218

Bleach Bypass by Deluxe Laboratories

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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© 2005 American Cinematographer.