Clubhouse Conversations — Belfast

In this 54-minute episode, Haris Zambarloukos, BSC, GSC and writer-director Sir Kenneth Branagh (below, in light blue shirt and holding monitor, respectively) detail their depiction of a tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s history, in discussion with interviewer Shelly Johnson, ASC.


Based on Branagh’s childhood years, the black-and-white picture marked the seventh collaboration in 15 years between the director and Zambarloukos, following Sleuth, Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Cinderella, Murder on the Orient Express and Artemis Fowl. The duo’s eighth collaboration — the mystery Death on the Nile — is set to premiere in 2022.

For Belfast, Zambarloukos used Arri Alexa Mini LF cameras equipped with Panavision large-format System 65 lenses made in the early 1990s: “I use a particular set with very specific serial numbers. [ASC associate] Dan Sasaki [of Panavision] maintains them in L.A., and then they are shipped to London or wherever I need them.”

The cinematographer chose the System 65s because he is “very familiar with those lenses. I used the same set on Orient Express and Death on the Nile, which we shot on 65mm film. They cover the large sensor of the LF and they have a very pleasing falloff around the edges while staying sharp in the center.”


“I shot with a single camera that I operated for most of the [Belfast] shoot,” Zambarloukos adds. “We used a second camera and had Andrei Austin operate on the days with large crowds like the [days we were shooting riot sequences]. Andrei also operated all the Steadicam shots.”


Zambarloukos is a Greek Cypriot who was born in the main city of Nicosia, Cyprus. He studied fine arts at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and then cinematography at the AFI Conservatory in Los Angeles. In 1997, he interned for Conrad L. Hall, ASC during the production of there feature A Civil Action. After shooting a number of short films, he photographed his first feature, Camera Obscura (1999). His other credits include Venus, Death Defying Acts, Mamma Mia!, The Other Man and Locke.

Born in Belfast, Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and later became its president. Following his success in theater, he made his directorial debut with the Shakespearean adaptation Henry V in 1989 — earning Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Director. In addition to his aforementioned films, he would bring The Bard’s work to the screen again with the films Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet (notably shot in 65mm), Love's Labour's Lost and As You Like It.

Johnson is a California native and graduated from the Art Center College of Design. Inspired in part by the camera crews his father worked with as a television director, Johnson focused on cinematography, establishing himself with an impressive array of television series, movies and miniseries, including the 1997 retelling of Stephen King's The Shining. He was nominated for ASC Awards for his work in the telefilms Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (1990) and The Inheritance (1997), as well as the series The Others (2000) and Training Day (2018). Johnson parlayed this success into the feature film realm, with his credits including Jurassic Park III, The Last Castle, Hidalgo, Sky High, The Wolfman, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Expendables 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Greyhound.

Reporting by Terry McCarthy
Unit photography by Rob Youngson, courtesy of Focus Features

You’ll find all episodes in our ASC Clubhouse Conversations discussion series here.