Exclusive: DP Claudio Miranda on ‘Only the Brave’, Shooting Fire, and David Fincher Stories

By Adam Chitwood
October 12, 2017
Collider

Claudio Miranda has had an interesting career thus far. After working as a gaffer on films like Se7en and Fight Club, filmmaker David Fincher (with whom he’d worked on a few commercials and music videos as a cinematographer) asked him to serve as the cinematographer for the wildly ambitious 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That VFX-intensive effort scored Miranda an Oscar nomination and led to him then shooting visually breathtaking movies like Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, and of course Life of Pi, for which he won the Best Cinematography Oscar.

Miranda’s latest film reteams him with director Joseph Kosinski for the third time and also marks something of a departure—the true story drama Only the Brave. The film revolves around one unit of local firefighters who battled the Yarnell Hill wildfire in 2013 to tragic results. Josh Brolin leads a cast that includes Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, and Jennifer Connelly.

With Only the Brave hitting theaters on October 20th, I recently got the chance to have an extended conversation with Miranda about his work on the film. He talked about his working relationship with Kosinski, the challenges of capturing real fire onscreen, shooting on location, and his approach to shooting realistic visual effects.

But I’m also a big fan of Miranda’s work in general, so the conversation veered off into his early days working as a gaffer for Fincher, and we discussed his “trial by fire” experience shooting Benjamin Button as well as what it’s like to work with Fincher and how his gaffer work with other cinematographers like Harris Savides and Dariusz Wolski has shaped his approach. Finally, with Kosinski next set to direct the Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick, I asked Miranda what the prep has been like on that movie so far.

It’s a wide-ranging and refreshingly candid conversation that hopefully admirers of Miranda’s work, or just those curious about cinematography in general, will find illuminating. I certainly had a great time chatting with the talented DP.

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John Carroll Lynch on playing the president, a killer clown, and the Coen brothers’ warmest character

A.A. Dowd
9/27/2017
A.V. Club

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Over two decades of big- and small-screen work, John Carroll Lynch has become one of Hollywood’s consummate “that guy” character actors, capable of punching up the margins of whatever he’s in. Theatrically trained, the Colorado native made his first big impression as eternally supportive husband Norm Gunderson in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning Fargo, before scoring a reoccurring role as crossdressing older brother Steve on The Drew Carey Show. Since then, he’s carved out an eclectic body of film and television supporting performances, playing his imposing stature for both paternal, Gundersonian decency (such as during a moving one-episode appearance on The Walking Dead) and for supreme, skin-crawling creepiness (like in Zodiac or The Invitation). Lynch has also worked with several major directors, from Martin Scorsese to Clint Eastwood to John Woo. Recently, he’s picked up the filmmaking bug himself; his directorial debut Lucky, starring the late Harry Dean Stanton in one of his final roles, opens in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, before expanding into further markets.

[…]

Zodiac (2007)— “Arthur Leigh Allen”

First thing’s first. Is Arthur Leigh Allen the Zodiac Killer?

JCL: No, and the reason I don’t think so is twofold. First, in performing the role, David Fincher asked me to play it as an innocent man. [Pauses.] Until the end. [Laughs.]

AVC: Until that last scene with Robert Graysmith.

JCL: And then the other thing was… and this is going to sound like a weird defense, but… Arthur Leigh Allen was a pedophile. To get to be a pedophile, to really choose to do that, consciously in your life, it’s my belief that you have to run through some really severe walls of societal norms and morals. It has to be a mania, an obsession, of such grand proportions for you to ignore the health and safety of children to do it—I don’t see how you go, “I want to sleep with children and kill people.” The only way I can think of it not being that way is if he molested children—[Aside.] this is a horrible answer—and he realized that wasn’t it. He just thought it was. But I find that hard to believe. Now, that’s a terrible defense of Arthur Leigh Allen. He wasn’t the Zodiac Killer, he wasn’t a serial killer, because he was a pedophile. But I will say that the circumstantial evidence that Graysmith presented, and that David Fincher expanded upon during the making of the movie, is pretty overwhelming.

AVC: But there have been so many suspects over the years. People have made these iron, convincing cases against several people.

JCL: Sure. That’s what the movie’s about, isn’t it? I think that movie is about the virus of obsession. And I don’t think that’s stopped. The Zodiac isn’t the first one to do that, obviously. The first one I can think of us is the guy here [in Chicago]. The Devil In The White City.

AVC: Oh, right, with the death hotel. Holmes?

JCL: Yes, H.H. Holmes. That guy may be the first recorded one. Although Jack The Ripper was before that. But it’s like the myth of vampirism. There’s just something attractive to people about these men who see themselves as above humanity. To be released from the constraints of moral society. We might be seeing that play out in other ways.

AVC: David Fincher has this reputation as an intense perfectionist, sometimes demanding 50 takes to get a scene right.

JCL: As a person who came from the theater, I love that. It doesn’t bother me at all. The fact that he wanted to do it again was perfectly fine with me. I was also aware of it, so I didn’t take it personally. I didn’t think, “I suck now” because we were on 50. I think if you get to 50 with Clint Eastwood, you’re doing something wrong. [Laughs.] But Fincher is meticulous. He’s like the other masters I’ve worked with. They understand filmmaking to a degree that I could only dream of. And they are following their passion. This is a poor analogy, but Picasso was a cubist and went through a wide variety of movements in his career. He could have drawn figures better than anyone if he wanted to. He didn’t want to. So that’s what it’s like working with David Fincher. He’s after something. And it takes him 50 takes to get it.

AVC: He knows what he wants.

JCL: He knows what he’s looking for, and he knows how to get it. I also think he likes the performances of exhausted actors. He finds something interesting about that.

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‘Lucky’ director John Carroll Lynch talks Harry Dean Stanton’s final role

By Jason Fraley
September 26, 2017
wtop

Podcast: 28:04 min

WASHINGTON — He’s one of the most prolific character actors in Hollywood history, from “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) to “Alien” (1979), from “Paris, Texas” (1984) to “Repo Man” (1984).

Now, just days after his death at age 91, Harry Dean Stanton gives his final performance in the indie dramedy “Lucky,” marking the directorial debut of actor John Carroll Lynch (“Fargo”).

[…]

Who can forget his suspect in David Fincher’s “Zodiac” (2007)? His acting chops are on display in two scenes: first as he’s called into the police station where the cops remark, “Nice watch.” They don’t seem to notice the clue right under their noses: the watch is a “Zodiac” brand.

“[Fincher] did a great job,” Lynch said. “That [acting] foursome — Elias Koteas, Anthony Edwards, Mark Ruffalo and I — had one of the best days on set that I’ve ever had.”

His final scene is just as brilliant, as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Robert Graysmith enters Lynch’s hardware store, engaging in a silent staredown that suggests he’s the killer.

“Graysmith so desperately needs to know,” Lynch said. “The scene is written like the end of ‘Moby Dick’ where Ahab is tied to the whale. Melville writes, ‘The whale looks at Ahab, and Ahab looks at the whale.’ That’s how I saw it. They recognize each other in that moment.”

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My Pop Life #171: Praying For Time – George Michael

Ralph Brown as Aaron “85” (Alien 3)

by magicman (Ralph Brown)
12 Oct 2016
Magicmenagerie’s Blog

That autumn I was doing a play called Earwig by Paula Milne at The Pit, somewhere under The Barbican in London with the RSC. Then I got a call from the agent for a meeting in Pinewood studios for Alien 3. This was terribly exciting. I adored the first Alien film, and was less keen on the second, but devoured it hungrily nonetheless. The combination of horror and science fiction was thrilling and brilliantly done. I gleaned a few details before the meeting – it was going to be set on a prison planet with no women except Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. It would be directed by a young first-time director called David Fincher. Much to the irritation of the RSC I had my (pretty long) hair shorn at Fish in D’Arblay Street – a number four if I recall. I’d been going to Fish since I’d done West at The Donmar Warehouse in 1983, and they’d been close-up witnesses to the disappearing head-fur since then. Anyway, I got offered the part of Aaron, or to be more accurate, Fincher recalled me and asked me which part I fancied playing. HOW COMPLETELY THRILLING !! (I thought) IS THIS WHAT MY LIFE WILL BE LIKE NOW??? I chose Aaron. The 2nd in command. The survivor. Good part. Or so I thought. This is an extract from my diary at the time – an actor at his first Hollywood barbeque, getting burned. Nobody explains what it’s going to be like, and even if they did, I didn’t listen. Who does ?

Alien 3 – Paranoia in Pinewood

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My Pop Life #174: Learning To Be – Eleven

Reported by Joe Frady

Header image: Ralph Brown, Anita Lewton, Jen, Gary Kemp, Donya Fiorentino with David Fincher, Annie & Paul McGann (circa 1992, Ralph Brown)

2009-03-26 Simon Dack (Angus weekend Magazine) - Ralph Brown [RETOUCHED]
Actor and writer Ralph Brown (March 2009, Simon Dack / Argus Weekend)

by magicman (Ralph Brown)
31 Oct 2016
Magicmenagerie’s Blog

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters both the same…” said Rudyard Kipling in his incomparable poem “If…”. Well I can’t. I pretend I can, but no, I prefer the triumphs. Is that what they’re called? Those goals into the top corner. Those victories. Yes, I prefer those imposters to the failures. But people always say wise self-help guru stuff like “you learn more from your failures” or “crisis and opportunity is the same word in Chinese” or even “I get knocked down but I get up again”. You know? I prefer not to get knocked down at all. I feel like my life was built on crises. But still they come.

In 1994 I was living in Los Angeles. It was David Fincher‘s idea. He’d directed Alien 3 in 1991 and suggested that Jenny and I move to California. “Come to LaLa” is actually what he said. In 1992, after we’d got married and shot Undercover Blues in New Orleans which coincided with our honeymoon, (see My Pop Life #158) we rented an apartment in West Hollywood and stayed for three years. David was very disappointed with Alien3 because the studio hadn’t accepted his cut, indeed had hacked the shit out of his cut, and after the glamorous premiere in LA and razzamatazz opening weekend fizz had died down, it was a film which didn’t knock everyone out, neither the public it seemed nor the critics. David took it very badly – personally and professionally. He spent the following two years silently fuming and plotting his revenge, and his next move. We spent a lot of time together, round his apartment which at the time was on Beverley & La Brea with his new wife Donya Fiorentino, and Rachel his PA, her boyfriend Paul Carafotes, and David’s friends Chip & Carol, Ron, James, Marcie, and other friends. We had a handful of friends already there – Anita Lewton from Moving Parts days (early 80s) was in Venice Beach, Suzy Crowley and Tony Armatrading were hanging out too.

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Big Score: Fincher Plucks Obscure Jason Hill as ‘Mindhunter’ Composer

Reported by Dante

Newcomer Jason Hill (front) landed a plum assignment, composing music for David Fincher’s new Netflix series Mindhunter.

By Paula Parisi on August 3, 2017
Max the Trax

Unknown yesterday, Jason Hill has landed in the Hollywood music mix with a bang, landing composer duties on David Fincher’s new Netflix series Mindhunter, premiering Oct. 13. Multi-instrumentalist Hill has spent the past 15 years kicking around the rock scene, performing with members of The Killers and The New York Dolls in various configurations, led his own band, Louis XIV, and was also in Vicky Cryer.

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Mindhunter

A post shared by JASON HILL (@jasonhillofficial) on

Steven Soderbergh: ‘There’s no new oxygen in this system’

Reported by Joe Frady

The American director discusses his long-awaited return to feature filmmaking with Logan Lucky.

Interview: Matt Thrift
Illustration: Robert Manning
Little White Lies

It’s been four years since Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from filmmaking, slamming the door on his way out with an impassioned cri de coeur on the state of the industry at the San Francisco Film Festival. In the event, it turned out to be more of a working-vacation, what with his 2013 TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, and two seasons of The Knick released in the interim. Now he’s back on the big screen with Logan Lucky, one of his best films to date, bringing with it a new fight against the system with the film’s experimental distribution model. We sat down for a long chat with American cinema’s most restless workaholic, the original Sundance Kid.

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Art of the Title: Angus Wall & Elastic

Art of the Title: Angus Wall

Art of the Title: Elastic

In Studio Partners:

Design: Elastic
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
VFX: a52

Still Image © Joe LaMattina