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How I Shot That: The Hiking Trail to Sundance Drama 'Jamie Marks Is Dead'

By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire January 24, 2014 at 11:02AM

Having shot a number of shorts, the television series "True Detective" and the acclaimed 2010 documentary "Freakonomics," cinematographer Darren Lew has teamed up with director Carter Smith to shoot his first narrative feature film, and discusses just what it took for him to shoot "Jamie Marks Is Dead," a dark drama in which a lonely teenager is caught between the world of the living and the dead.
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"Jamie Marks Is Dead"
"Jamie Marks Is Dead"

Having shot a number of shorts and the acclaimed 2010 documentary "Freakonomics," cinematographer Darren Lew has teamed up with director Carter Smith to shoot his first narrative feature film, and discusses just what it took for him to shoot "Jamie Marks Is Dead," a dark drama in which a lonely teenager is caught between the world of the living and the dead.

Which camera and lens did you use? ALEXA (Arriraw) and Cooke S4 lenses

What was the most difficult shot on your movie, and how did you pull it off? Shooting a huge night exterior down by a river bank that was a half-mile down a hiking trail. I didn't pull it off--my crew did! We had multiple 18K Arri Max pars on a state highway bridge and other lamps on a foot bridge.

Who is your favorite cinematographer, and why? Harris Savides because he makes it look so simple--and it is simple.

What's the best film school for an aspiring cinematographer? A liberal arts education and the school of hard knocks.

Do you think the shift from digital is good or bad? We've shifted? I'm still shooting film. Along with digital, film is just another choice (at least for now!).

What advice do you have for cinematographers who want to get to Sundance? Find good collaborators.


What's the best career advice you received? Shoot any project that you can.


And the worst advice? As above, shoot any project that you can.

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, Cinematography, Jamie Marks Is Dead, Carter Smith







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