Cinematographer Sam McCurdy’s been working with Neil Marshall from the beginning, with 2002’s Dog Soldiers, and like everyone else who’s worked with the man hopes to continue working on his films for years to come.
With this Friday’s release of Doomsday looming, we took the opportunity to pick McCurdy’s brain about just what makes the film so damn interesting. Hope you enjoy the results!
Johnny Butane: So how did you get your start behind the camera? Any influences in the business who inspired you?
Sam McCurdy: Goodness, how did I get started…?
I started in a very traditional manner I guess. Started as a trainee, moved to loader, focus, operator and then finally DP. I think I realised I wanted to be behind a camera after seeing all the great movies of the late 70’s early 80’s. I know its not a period that people would say was that special, but it was when I really got into movies. When I realised that movies can do more than just inform you about the past, when movies were fun.
I love the popcorn movie. The two biggest movies that made a difference to me personally were Halloween and Goonies. I know you couldn’t get two more different movies but (and I guess I didn’t know it at the time) Halloween got me into horror (which is still my first love, really) and Goonies reminds me every day that we are making something that should be fun, to work on as well as for audiences to enjoy.
So as far as influences has to be Dean Cundy, what he did with Halloween stayed with me forever; to this day.
JB: How did you and Neil first hook up?
SM: Neil and I have know each other forever, I think. We knew each other as mates first really and the rest just seemed to fall into place. We have the same love of the same movies whether that be horror, comedy, whatever really, it just worked so well the first time and we kept on going. It makes a difference, I think, that we’ve grown up with the same influences and the same love of cinema. We always work together with a smile!
JB: This is the third film you’ve shot for Marshall and the first with a studio behind it. Were there any marked differences in how the shoot actually went?
SM: No real differences between this and any other Neil Marshall movie, really. I think Neil would work exactly the same given $50 or $50 million. Yeah we have more toys to play with more time(ish).
JB: What was the most challenging part of shooting Doomsday?
SM: The challenges come from Neil more than anyone else; shooting with 3 cameras was a challenge (3 cams on everything!) We’ve done 3 movies, all very different in looks, feel and content style, and the next will be no different. That’s what’s so fun about working with Neil; everything is always different.
JB: Were there any scenes or actions that turned out better than you expected during planning?
SM: Working with Neil is always special, we have a great relationship a great respect and a willingness to do pretty much whatever he wants, I think Neil will always get a little more from me than anyone else does, just because he can!
JB: How does your experience differ shooting with someone like Neil as opposed to doing a for-hire job like Hills Have Eyes 2?
SM: A for-hire job is always different; not having the relationship is the hardest thing. I find film making very personal, I like to throw myself into a project I want to know my director be inside their head as it were, and sometimes its not given back that’s always tough …
JB: What would you call a dream project?
SM: There are so many people out there I would love to work with, of course given the opportunity a Tony Scott pic would be my dream. But really anyone who works with passion is the sort of person I would love to work with.
JB: Any other directors you’d like to work with?
SM: John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Torro, Greengrass, Chris Nolan, Martin Weisz (would love to work with again) to name but a few.
JB: What’s next on you plate?
SM: Next on my plate, there’s lots of talk at the moment, hopefully working in the states soon, there’s a nice horror project coming up soon for me too…
JB: Do you plan on always working with Neil?
SM: I’m around as long as he will have me. I hope that’s a long time!
Thanks to Sam for taking the time to chat with us; look for more Doomsday interviews as the March 14th release date approaches! Visit the official Doomsday site to learn more!