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TIFF 2017: Here Are the Cameras Used To Shoot 40 of This Year’s Best Films

The world's best DPs explain how they created looks for Guillermo del Toro’s “Shape of Water,” Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!,” and many more.

Lucrecia Martel and DP Rui Poças Shooting “Zama”

Lucrecia Martel and DP Rui Poças Shooting “Zama”

IndieWire reached out to the cinematographers whose films are headlining the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival to find out which cameras they used and, more importantly, why they were the right tools to create their projects.

“55 Steps”

Filip Zumbrunn shooting "55 Steps

Filip Zumbrunn shooting “55 Steps

Dir: Bille August, DP: Filip Zumbrunn
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini and Amira
Lens: Cooke Panchros S2/3

Zumbrunn: “Because of the beautiful skin tones, the good latitude of the ARRI-log and the reliability of the body — especially when shooting the entire movie handheld — it was clear, that we wanted to shoot on the Arri Alexa Mini. As a B-Camera body we were using an ARRI Amira. We chose the vintage Cooke Panchros S2/3 together with the Tiffen Pearlescent filters to give the movie a warm, filmic and not too clean look to transport the feeling of the early eighties. And working closely together with the art and costume department enhanced finally this movie’s unique period style.”

“Battle of the Sexes”

Linus Sandgren on the set of "Battle of the Sexes"

Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Cinematography Linus Sandgren on the set of “Battle of the Sexes”

Melinda Sue Gordon

Dir: Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton, DP: Linus Sandgren
Camera: Arricam LT Arricam ST
Lens: Vintage Angenieux zooms and Kowa Cine Prominar Primes

Sandgren: “I wanted to work with older glass since the film takes place in the 70s. Zooms was desired for the way we wanted to tell the story, while for intimate scenes we needed primes and handheld cameras. We found all these lenses clean white balanced while having a warm flare which — in combination with pushing the 35mm film stock one stop — helped to create a more ’70s print look in the sense we increased contrast, grain and color naturally in the negative, letting us do a very natural DI with print colors without having to digitally force things.”

“Borg/McEnroe”

"Borg/McEnroe"

“Borg/McEnroe”

Dir: Janus Metz, DP: Niels Thastum
Camera: Arri Mini and Arri Alexa XT
Lens: Vantage One

Thastum: “In pre-production we were leaning towards warmer vintage lenses, but we ended up choosing to go with Vantage One lenses, which I find to be very versatile. The possibility of very shallow depth of field for the portraits, and the high speed they provide gave us a lot of freedom to shoot in available light at night and gave a contemporary feel to the film, instead of a retro-looking film.”

“BPM (Beats Per Minute)”

"BPM (Beats Per Minute)"

“BPM (Beats Per Minute)”

Dir: Robin Campillo, DP: Jeanne Lapoirie
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini

Lapoirie: “We used two Alexa Mini, and a third one for some sequences. The Arri Alexa is my favorite camera because it gives a result that’s the closest to the 35mm. The picture is more organic than with other cameras. The entire film is shot handheld, so the Mini was definitely perfect for that.”

“Brad’s Status”

"Brad's Status"

“Brad’s Status”

Dir: Mike White, DP: Xavier Grobet
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes

Grobet: “The reason I chose the Master Primes for this movie is because I was looking for a clean and sharp look to contrast with the handheld feel of the camera work.”

“The Children Act”

"The Children Act"

“The Children Act”

courtesy of TiFF

Dir: Richard Eyre, DP: Andrew Dunn
Camera: Arri Alexa
Lens: Cooke S4 & Angeniex Optimo

Dunn: “Richard and I were looking for quite a modern approach, but with some sense of depth, requiring a tapestry of textures to illuminate and to bring forth the deeper and often hidden emotions lying beneath. Ian MacEwan’s story and screenplay are complex and dense, layers within layers taking their turn to surface. So after testing numerous cameras, mediums and lenses, filters and focal lengths, we found the rightful (we feel) combination of techniques and technical means to bring to the audience this brilliant piece of writing brought to the screen by a great director with a brilliant cast of players.”

“A Ciambra”

Jonas Carpignano and DP Tim Curtin shooting "A Ciambra"

Jonas Carpignano and DP Tim Curtin shooting “A Ciambra”

Dir: Jonas Carpignano, DP: Tim Curtin
Camera: Arri 416, Arri SR3, Arricam LT (16mm)

Carpignano: “My DP Tim Curtin and I have been making films in southern Italy together for over six years, and every one of them has been shot with the 416 or SR3. Tim is a next-level operator and these cameras are great for handheld. They allow us to shoot on the fly in what are usually very unpredictable conditions, and they are nimble, which allows us to get through a lot of setups in a day. In the end, it really comes down to the fact that we love the texture of film. For us, nothing can replicate look of super 16.”

“The Cured”

"The Cured"

“The Cured”

Courtesy of TiFF

Dir: David Freyne DP: Piers McGrail
Camera: Arri Alexa
Lens: Cooke S2s

McGrail: “I suppose there isn’t a huge choice these days when you’re tied to digital. The Alexa was preferable to the Red as I prefer the viewfinder and find it a little better for handheld work. We opted for the older S2s as we felt that a slightly lower resolution would help to sell our zombie prosthetics and make-up. A lot of our references where films that had been shoot on 16mm or grainy 35mm, so I also thought that an older lens might help us towards that in some way. All that said, I haven’t actually had a chance to see the film projected yet — so while I hope they were the right tools for the job, I can’t say for sure!”

“Disobedience”

"Disobedience"

“Disobedience”

TIFF 2017

Dir: Sebastián Lelio, DP: Danny Cohen
Camera: Red Dragon
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes

Cohen: “Red was the right camera for the film. It’s an intimate story and we shot in some small spaces, so I wanted a camera that would be unobtrusive. A lot of the coverage was handheld so a small light camera really helped. The look I was after to start with was cold and emotionally drained, that then goes on a bit of a journey.”

“Downsizing”

"Downsizing"

“Downsizing”

Dir: Alexander Payne, DP: Phedon Papamchael
Camera: Arri Alexa XT, Arri Mini – Open Gate (Aspect Ratio2:39:1 Spherical)
Lens: Panavision P-Vintage, Cannon K-35, Standard Speed Primes, Ultra Speed Primes

Papamchael: “We assembled this combo of Vintage lenses because Alexander wanted to achieve a ‘late ’70s look.’ These lenses help take the digital edge off, resolving the image with less sharpness and with their pleasant flare characteristics and nice fall-off towards the edges. We also created a ‘film look’ by adding grain in the DI process. [We watched] projected film prints of several 70’s features to remind ourselves what the film-texture was like back then — and then dialed in our DCP accordingly.”

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