Interview: Cinematographer Andrew Shulkind on Shooting The Vault and The Ritual - Dread Central
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Interview: Cinematographer Andrew Shulkind on Shooting The Vault and The Ritual

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We’re firm believers that people behind the scenes need to be appreciated for their work in the film and TV industry. So much attention is given to the cast of a film as well as producers, directors, and writers. So it’s always a pleasure when we get the chance to shine the light on someone else who brings so much to a film. In this case, we’re proud to give you an interview with cinematographer Andrew Shulkind, who worked on Dan Bush’s bank heist horror/thriller film The Vault as well as David Bruckner’s upcoming feature The Ritual.

In the below interview, we speak about the difficulties of shooting in low-light conditions, the differences between shooting a film that is based almost entirely indoors versus one almost 100% outdoors, the equipment he used, and more! Check out the interview below for an insight into the world of a professional cinematographer!

Directed by Dan Bush (The Signal), The Vault stars James Franco, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, and Scott Haze.

Dread Central: For films that are essentially held hostage within a building for the vast majority of the scenes, how does that impact the shooting style versus films that mix outdoor and indoor footage?
Andrew Shulkind: It has its challenges! In some ways it’s really convenient because, like a television series or a studio show, we can pick up exactly where we left off the day before. The challenge with this movie is that we weren’t on a stage and so we had to keep the lighting consistent as the sun would move across the building and feel very different. Creating consistency becomes a big challenge. Basically, success means that our work is invisible!

DC: Bank heist films are a bit of a genre unto themselves, often having a bit of a similar feel and style. How did you choose to stand apart, especially when the horror element was thrown into the mix?
AS: I agree. Dan and Conal’s script was so sharp and smart that it was like nothing I’d read before. Adding the horror element was genius and really made it the ultimate bank heist movie. From a visual perspective, I always tend towards natural realism and try to resist the temptation to go for horror tropes. I think those tropes are best told with the story and pacing in the edit. Dan and I talked about natural-feeling light with all the organic interactivity that comes with that, whether that meant the way direct sunlight would warm a room when gleaming off of a polished marble floor or the soft bounce of a cold flashlight off of dull concrete walls.

DC: Low light conditions can often be the bane of a cinematographer since so much detail is obscured by shadow and darkness. How do you try and use those situations to your advantage? Also, let’s get technical: can you tell me about the cameras and lenses you used and why those were your choices for The Vault?
AS: Lighting for the most extreme version of darkness was one of the things that made me excited about this movie. The canon C300 Mark II is a camera that I had used on a couple of commercials before and had been really impressed with the dynamic range of the sensor, 4K raw capture capability, and the ability to shoot at very high ISO. So often a sensitive sensor is advertised as being able to get you out of a jam, but I wanted to work at the low end of the range for this specific creative effect. I knew that we were going to be in dark locations and I didn’t want to blast these with light and wanted to create a very nuanced sense of soft shadows. It is an honor to work with so little light.

We tested extensively and found that we were able to get an extra stop of light with the Canon sensor over Arri Alexa or Red Dragon with the low light OLPF. When paired with the Canon Cinema EOS zooms and shooting RAW to external recorders, we were able to work very nimbly at a really high level of quality and a very low level of light! The cinema zooms are fast, cover a great focal range, and suitably geared to handle a Preston. Total secret weapon in optics.

DC: You have no shortage of experience in the horror world. What sets this genre apart from others in how you approach your work?
AS: I try to approach every project with fresh eyes and avoid clicking into established protocols. I think often it’s most interesting to counter a look than go for the obvious choice. But what I love about shooting dark movies is how we can really dial in the nuance of lighting. Using the artful detail work of lighting to underscore performances and narrative is the most basic form of visual storytelling.

DC: You were the cinematographer on David Bruckner’s film The Ritual. Can you tell us a bit about working on that project?
AS: Sure! I shot one just a few months after the other. And it was the successful use of the C300 MK II on The Vault that inspired me to use Canon’s impressive sensor technology on The Ritual. They were very different movies in terms of style, tone, and location, but David and Dan share a kind of high level intelligent approach to the work and are two of the smartest guys working in this medium.

DC: The Vault is an “indoors” movie while The Ritual is almost exclusively outdoors. What does such a seemingly simple difference mean for someone in your position?
AS: Haha! A lot! This was a very dramatic difference. The Vault was primarily shot in two locations that we could pre-rig and run down the hall to approve some lighting or props or dressing. The Ritual was basically an all-exterior movie, most of which was shot in a Romanian forest on top of a mountain at night, often in the rain and snow. Almost every day was an entirely new location, new load-in, a ton of cabling, balloon lights on construction cranes. It rained when we didn’t want it to and we created rain when it didn’t.

The two most glaring challenges were:
-Springtime in Atlanta often means thunderstorms and on The Vault we often had to shut down our generator for safety concerns. In two cases, given the extreme sensitivity of the Canon sensors, I was able to use two flashlights bounced off a card to keep shooting without mains power.
-As a camera operator, your horizon is often guided by architectural horizontal or vertical features. For example, roofline, corner of a room, a road, etc… And that’s how we traditionally determine what “level” means. Without those linear references, horizon becomes really subjective and hotly disputed. In a world of snarled trees on uneven terrain in a forest and irregular ramshackle log cabins for so long made my camera operators and I yearn for right angles again!

DC: What else is next for you? What other projects can we get excited about?
AS: I’ve been busy with commercials for Target and Google and been shooting a lot of the high-end VR/AR projects out there for brands and networks.

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Freddy’s Greatest Hits Vinyl Re-issue Is a Must-Own

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Strange Disc Records has just announced that it will be releasing “Freddy’s Greatest Hits – The Elm Street Group” on vinyl starting this Wednesday with pre-orders expected to ship in January 2018.

Not only that but Mondo announced they will be releasing an exclusive variant pressed on “Freddy Sweater” striped vinyl. This LP from Mondo is limited to 400 and will cost you $25.

For those who might not know, “Freddy’s Greatest Hits” was originally released in 1987. The record contains nine tracks (covers, originals, and instrumentals) with Robert Englund doing the voice of Freddy over the top.

I don’t know about you but this has just made my list of must-own items. But I’d prefer an original copy. That said an original copy is probably hundreds of buck on eBay as opposed to this version for a mere $25 bucks. Not bad.

You can check out the full track listing and a sample song below. Then make sure to hit us up and let us know if you’ll be snagging a copy in the comments below!

Track Listing

1. “Do The Freddy”
Freddy and the Dreamers cover, as well as a parody.
The lyrics were changed to fit Freddy Krueger persona and elements

2. “Obsession”
original song

3. “Wooly Bully”
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs cover.
Freddy (Robert Englund) provides the opening lyrics.

4. “Don’t Sleep”
original song

5. “In The Midnight Hour”
Wilson Pickett cover

6. “All I Have To Do Is Dream”
Everly Brothers cover

7. “Dance or Else”
original song

8. “Down in the Broiler Room”
original song

9. “Elm Street Dreams”
original song

Pre-orders begin Wednesday, November 22.

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That is One Gigantic Steampunk Squid…

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Perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi adventures novels ever written, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a landmark book, one that was decades ahead of its time. The story follows the crew of the Nautilus, a submarine commanded by Captain Nemo, as they venture in search of a giant sea monster. It was the basis for several film adaptations and the character of Captain Nemo played a pivotal role in the graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

So why am I bringing this up, you ask? Because Tor Books is releasing Nemo Rising, a sequel, this Christmas! Written by C. Courtney Joyner, the story once again follows Nemo, although this book sees him a prisoner that must be pardoned by President Ulysses S. Grant in order to face an onslaught of more sea monsters.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother you all with this, but I happen to have a soft spot in my heart for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the cover art for the book is fucking epic! I’ve always been a fan of cephalopods, and I’ve found the steampunk aesthetic to be pretty fascinating. Combine them both along with giant monsters, and you damn well better believe that I’m 100% into it! Plus, it’s wrapped itself around the Nautilus, which is already a giant vessel, so now I’m wondering just how large these mechanical monstrosities are…

Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26, 2017.

Synopsis:
Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his Navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution.

Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian Steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…

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Filming On Blumhouse’s Halloween Pushed to January

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Looks like filming on Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween from Danny McBride and David Gordon Green has been pushed back a few months.

Not a huge deal, though. Only till January.

Filming on Halloween (2018) was supposed to begin this October (natch) but now it seems the film still has some cast to fill out.

The news comes to us via a South Carolina casting agency, The Island Packet, who are still seeking extras for the new film. In fact, if you are from the South Carolina area, you can be an extra in the film. Just click the link above for more details.

I wish I lived in or around South Carolina because being in this new Halloween would be a f*cking dream come true. If you’re in the area, get on it. You owe it to the rest of us! Haha?

How excited would you be to be an extra in this new Halloween? Let us know below!

Blumhouse’s Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer and is executive produced and scored by John Carpenter.

Halloween (2018) hits theaters Oct. 19, 2018.

Synopsis:

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

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