Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

How I Shot That: Filming Sundance Family Drama 'Infinitely Polar Bear'

By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire January 24, 2014 at 2:46PM

With an impressive list of credits already to his name that includes "The Messenger" and "Arlington Road," cinematographer Bobby Bukowski comes to Sundance with another acclaimed film and discusses the many challenges of pulling off "Infinitely Polar Bear," a family drama directed by Maya Forbes and starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, in which a bipolar father struggles with taking care of his daughters.
0
Infinitely Polar Bear

With an impressive list of credits already to his name including "The Messenger" and "Arlington Road," cinematographer Bobby Bukowski comes to Sundance with another acclaimed film and discusses the many challenges of pulling off "Infinitely Polar Bear," a family drama directed by Maya Forbes and starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, in which a bipolar father struggles with taking care of his daughters.

Which camera and lens did you use? Alexa. Angenieux Optimo Lightweight zooms.

What was the most difficult shot on your movie, and how did you pull it off? Pretty much the entire shoot was a challenge. I had a small crew and very few days in which to shoot this film. That all translates to not enough time or resources to set up. As a result, night interiors are lit with carefully selected practical lights. As for daylight interiors, I asked the production designer to supply dark wooden shutters to modulate the light. I find blinds to be the most versatile window-dressing when attempting to light with available daylight. Not only can you have a completely open or completely closed window, but you can modulate the amount of light coming in with just a simple twist of the blinds. The darkness of the wood helped me avoid overexposure on the blinds when direct sunlight hit them. On a low-budget film with limited resources, I always find the challenge to be in how to maintain the integrity of the lighting.

Who is your favorite cinematographer, and why? I must say that Harris Savides was always on the top for me. He was a master with available and ambient light and was not afraid of darkness. I could watch BIRTH over and over again and constantly marvel at the mastery of his work. I am huge fan of Eric Gautier's as well.

What's the best film school for an aspiring cinematographer? I believe any school is a good school insofar as it is the experience that you have there that matters. I went to NYU Tisch in the early 80s and must say that it was my peers that inspired and drove me. Any place where great numbers of artists convene, there is bound to be great learning and work, which I suppose means that being on a set is a great learning opportunity as well. Vigilance, openness and quiet watchfulness are key when developing your skills as an artist.

Do you think the shift from digital is good or bad? I am not a Luddite. We live in a world in which technology moves very quickly. Personally, anytime I find myself presented with new technology I experience great learning and great growth. For this reason alone, I embrace the digital medium.


What advice do you have for cinematographers who want to get to Sundance? Find directors and producers who are passionate about their material on a deeply personal level.

What's the best career advice you received? Not really advice, but something I have learned after working for so long: get out of your own way. By that I mean existing on set in a way where you become a conduit for creativity and ideas. Great ideas come from disparate sources. If you are quiet and open and watchful, great things will come.


And the worst advice? From my father: he told me to become a doctor.

Editor's Note: The "How I Shot That" series is part of the Indiewire and Canon U.S.A. partnership at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, where we celebrated cinematography and photographed Sundance talent at Canon Craft Services on Main Street.




This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Sundance 2014, How I Shot That, Filmmaker Toolkit: Production, Maya Forbes, Infinitely Polar Bear, Cinematography






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More