Magazine article American Cinematographer

Trapped in a Groove

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Trapped in a Groove

Article excerpt

Photographed by Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC, Mia HansenLove's Eden chronicles more than two decades of French electronic-music culture as seen through the eyes of Paul (Félix de Givry), a young Parisian DJ struggling to make music while still making ends meet. Hansen-Love wrote the script based on the real-life experiences of her brother (and cowriter) Sven, and her direction lends a truthfulness to the events portrayed. Lenoir - whose work includes such films as Still Alice and Demonlover - provides naturalistic imagery that supports this perspective, wherein the actors drive his camerawork and the immediate environment dictates his lighting.

American Cinematographer. How did you come to be involved with this film?

Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC: Mia is an old friend of mine. We met when she was 18 and acting in the Olivier Assayas film I was shooting, Late August, Early September. When she started directing, her first three movies were all shot on film by other cinematographers, and this time she asked me to work with her. She wanted to shoot on film again, but the budget didn't allow it.

Which camera system did you shoot with?

Lenoir: My experience in digital has almost always been with Alexa, unless the project is so specific that I would consider another digital camera - as if it were film and I [needed to choose] another format like 16mm or Super 8. For me now, though, the question is whether to shoot ProRes or if we can afford ArriRaw, not just in terms of money, but time. I remember doing comparison tests between the two formats and seeing a difference, but not disliking the texture of ProRes. The difference was so small that, assuming I'm exposing properly and not painting myself into a comer, it was not enough to justify the money, the time, and a more complicated workflow to shoot raw, so I shot this film in ProRes 4:4:4 at 2.8K. [Eden was shot on the Am Alexa Plus, recording to SxS cards at 2K ProRes 4:4:4:4 in Log C format.]

Which lenses did you use?

Lenoin On almost every film I've shot, I've used some light diffusion. I didn't want to use any diffusion on this film, though, because I knew that we were shooting in dark clubs with strong lights that I would not be able to protect the camera from, as well as apartments with windows that I would not be able to tint down with ND gels, and I would get artifacts and flaring beyond my control. For this reason, I wanted to have fast lenses and I wanted lenses that are not so sharp - lenses I would have used during the actual period the movie is set in - so I picked the old Zeiss T1.3 Super Speeds. I also had a 2876mm Angenieux [Optimo] T2.6 and the 45-120mm [Optimo] T2.8.

The film opens in the late 1980s and concludes in 2013. A lot changes in that time: music, technology, people. Did you want to reflect this in your cinematography?

Lenoir: Typically, I would change the palette slightly-the range of colors and the contrast and filtration in a way that the audience doesn't notice. On this one, though, I made the conscious choice to film it all the same way. I didn't do anything to show the passage of time, because ultimately the main char- acter, Paul, doesn't change much - he doesn't seem to age, physically, although mentally he does.

What kinds of creative conversations did you have with Mia? What was her vision, and yours? How did you resolve the two?

Lenoir: Mia made a shot list with her continuity person, and because of the amount of time we had until the start of production - two years and three producers later! - she'd done it at least twice. Fortunately, I was not involved - and I say 'fortunately' because as much as I can see that it's important for the director to think about [his or her] film, I hate the process of making shot lists without even knowing the sets or the locations.

Later, I went through the shot list with her, which was good because it was a way for me to understand what she had in mind and why. …

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