Clubhouse Conversations — Emancipation

In this episode, cinematographer Robert Richardson, ASC, director Antoine Fuqua and production visual effects supervisor Robert Legato are joined by moderator Shelly Johnson, ASC to discuss their work on Emancipation — the historical action thriller centered on a runaway slave's escape from a Louisiana plantation.

Set in the 1860s, Emancipation charts the journey of Peter (Will Smith), a character based on the real-life former slave Gordon — whose bare back, brutally lashed by an overseer's whip, was famously photographed in 1863, and helped to raise awareness of the horrors of slavery. To tell this harrowing tale, Richardson and Fuqua opted for a palette very close to black-and-white, careful to avoid any risk of sentimentalizing the material.

In this lively interview, the filmmakers discuss how they established the film's unique look during preproduction; how they shot scenes in single takes to recover time lost by Covid-19 complications; and how they used Technocranes and cable cams to shoot one especially difficult and dangerous swamp location.

Robert Richardson, ASC is a cinematographer whose credits include such acclaimed features as Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012), The Hateful Eight (2015) and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019). He is a three-time Academy Award-winner, for his work on JFK (1991), The Aviator (2004) and Hugo (2011). He was honored with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.

Antoine Fuqua is a director and producer whose feature credits include Training Day (2001), The Equalizer (2014) and The Magnificent Seven (2016).

Robert Legato is a visual effects supervisor, second unit cinematographer and second unit director. His filmography includes Apollo 13 (1995), Titanic (1997), Hugo (2011) and The Lion King (2019).

Shelly Johnson, ASC is a cinematographer whose feature credits include Jurassic Park III (2001), Hidalgo (2004), The Wolfman (2010), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and Greyhound (2020).

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