Magazine article American Cinematographer

Gotti

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Gotti

Article excerpt

Alar Kivilo, CSC

Gotti

Alar Kivilo, CSC learned of his Emmy nomination while vacationing in Estonia, where he and his family spend every summer visiting his parents and in-laws. This is his second recognition for Gotti, which earned an ASC nomination last spring (see AC May '97). Kivilo was also nominated for an ASC Award in 1995 for the miniseries The Invaders (see AC May '96).

Gotti chronicles the rise and fall of Mafia don John Gotti, whose love of the public stage helped precipitate his downfall. "Gotti couldn't help himself; he just had to be in the limelight. He was the only mob boss to ever appear on the cover of Time magazine," says Kivilo. "It's not a good idea for a mob boss to be in the limelight."

The cinematographer continues, "The most challenging thing for me on any film is trying to find visual images that support the subtext of the story. On this show, director Robert Harmon and I came up with the idea of a moth being drawn to a flame." Whenever star Armand Assante appeared on screen, Kivilo would try to subliminally suggest that concept by including a light source in the frame with him. As Gotti became more and more famous, scenes became even brighter as a result of exploding flashbulbs and strong backlight generated by everpresent news cameras. "We always tried to have some kind of light source [motivating] the illumination," notes Kivilo. "Everything was drawn from the reality of the situation, which is how I like to work."

Whenever possible, Kivilo uses just one film stock on a picture. …

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