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Added by Dan on 16 Jun 2010 03:40
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The top 10 shots of 2009

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Director of Photography: Oren Peli



I literally spent months playing around with it and tweaking it, finding the right angle and the right colors, the right filters. It took a lot of effort. Once I got the positioning I had to figure out the lighting. It had to look natural but not like we were trying to be creepy. So I had to create a source of light that allows you to see what’s going on but not too clearly. I took a light and put it in the corner facing the wall, used filters to give it a little more bluish look and increased the contrast a little bit more. I knew this was going to be the standard shot we were going to use. I didn’t want to keep using different shots with drastically different angles.

–Oren Peli
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People who added this item 465 Average listal rating (261 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.5
Director of Photography: Brook Aitken



We had four hours and five minutes of drive time. It was a prototype camera, then we had to have a battery specially made. So the inside of this camera, the lithium batteries were around it, so it looked just like dynamite. We tried it once and it didn’t work because we had gotten it too early, and the second time we got it, it happened in the last five minutes as we were running out of hard drive space. It’s actually a dissolve. We sped it up so that probably about a minute and a half got reduced to maybe five seconds. We didn’t mess with the color at all on that stuff, and that honesty was really important to me in that shot.

–Director Louie Psihoyos
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People who added this item 2158 Average listal rating (1387 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd



It’s very informational in a lot of ways. It’s kind of a symbolic image as well, which I think gives it its strength. The obvious thing was to show this from above to give this kind of web surrounding him, which I think is metaphorical for his position, but also the moment of ecstasy at the center of this thing, it’s like he’s caught in a spider’s web. And it’s almost like an impossible place to be, so I think it’s a little bit mystical as an image. You wouldn’t get yourself in the center of such danger, but that was obviously the character. He was prepared to do that, which made him different to the other guys, and I think ultimately that’s what the film’s about.

–Barry Ackroyd
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People who added this item 1338 Average listal rating (778 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Director of Photography: Andrew Dunn



A lot of what cinematographers do has a greater meaning than the shot itself. This shot is of course only of value within the context of the storytelling. It reflects her situation. The apartment is a prison and her life is a prison and within that is this prison, this cauldron of bubbling mess. We were getting ready to move off that set and we knew we needed an actual storytelling point. It’s absolutely imperative that you get these little moments of storytelling. You don’t always know at the time of shooting what will be necessary and valid during the editing process, but it’s absolutely vital that you get all the ingredients so that the editor has choices.

–Andrew Dunn
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People who added this item 2637 Average listal rating (1538 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7
Director of Photography: Dante Spinotti



It was very complicated from the point of view of visual effects. They rigged the car so that it was trailing sort of a platform on which the actor was lying and there was a green screen on top of it and then shot the background of the road and all the dust. So it looked like the guy was actually pulled by the car on the road itself. Dillinger loses his friend and mentor and teacher in this scene and the fact that something goes terribly wrong with the prison break probably sets the tone of the rest of the story. Criminality was going in a different direction. The look between the two actors is really wonderful and the moment is definitely very emotional.

–Dante Spinotti
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People who added this item 1699 Average listal rating (1040 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
Director of Photography: Javier Aguirresarobe



John Hillcoat, from the beginning, was very confidant in me. I could work with a lot of freedom. This shot was an improvisation. It wasn’t planned. The movie doesn’t have too many interior scenes and this was something we discovered right there on the set. Most of the movie wasn’t storyboarded and we were really glad that this was a shot that could show like a shadow without a specific shape that is being erased and it reflects the character and what he’s feeling at that moment and accentuates the drama. The water is, in a sense, erasing the past. I think it’s a really powerful moment in the story.

–Javier Aguirresarobe
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People who added this item 2137 Average listal rating (1387 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
Director of Photography: Eric Steelberg



We had just finished shooting and we were moving between locations at the airport. We were walking by this walkway and Jason said, ‘Do we have Anna? I want to do a shot of Anna on this walkway really quick. Can we do that?’ We didn’t really have permission, so he said let’s talk with the airport and see if we can do it. I think he knew where he would use it tonally but he said, ‘Oh, you know what, I do actually need a cutaway for Anna at the end of the movie.’ It was literally spur of the moment, walking by, seeing the opportunity. And it kind of reminds everybody of her journey as well.

–Eric Steelberg
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Director of Photography: Lance Acord



Getting the suit performers in the water was a challenge because if the suits filled up with water, it would keep them under water. The location, Bush Ranger’s Bay on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia, it has like 8-10 foot waves washing ashore. Pirates in the early 1800s would build fires along the coastline to lure ships into thinking there were settlements there, and it would cause the ships to shipwreck and they would go out and pillage the ships. It was a real miracle that it was the only day of being at that location for close to three weeks when there were hardly any waves. The ocean went completely flat.

–Lance Acord
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Director of Photography: Andrew Lesnie



Coming fresh from one of the most vital experiences of a young girl’s life (first love) and past an energetic expression of youthful energy on the soccer field, the shot smoothly brings us to the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next. By craning up we draw on the film memory of this move as a closing motif, while also using it to introduce the arena for the coming events. The audience are already aware of the conclusion and have seen Harvey in the field at night, so the transition from a colorful environment with contrasting colors to a monochromatic desolute, denuded cornfield is smooth but immediately gets your mind racing.

–Andrew Lesnie
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Director of Photography: Ben Seresin



The shot wasn’t specifically storyboarded, although there was extensive pre-visualization for the rest of the scene. The bottled wall was planned, as it is typical in the Middle East. I tried to create a feeling in the room that would give a sense of safety, and that contrasted with the expanse, scale and danger of outside. I could write a book on working with Michael. Basically, he fluctuates from totally controlling to handing things over. Having said that, the aesthetic of the movie is very much his. He feels very comfortable with his bold style and is generally disinclined to experiment with new approaches.

–Ben Seresin
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The original list: In Contention
Posted by: Kristopher Tapley

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