Magazine article American Cinematographer

Hand of God Shoots Film for a Timeless Feel

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Hand of God Shoots Film for a Timeless Feel

Article excerpt

Amazon Studios' Hand of God, which stars Ron Perlman as a corrupt, born-again judge who becomes a vigilante, is the latest example of original production by an online streaming entity. Making his television directorial debut, the pilot was directed by Marc Forster ( World War Z, The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland) and photographed in a film-noir style by Matthias Koenigswieser. Viewers of the premiere episode were asked to give opinions on Hand of God before the decision to proceed with the series was made, and soon season one, consisting of nine episodes, was moving forward.

The story takes place in a small town in California where an economic bust makes the populace desperate. Joining the production team for the episodes was Rasmus Heise, a member of the Danish Society of Cinematographers whose work has garnered an impressive array of accolades. Helium, his live-action short with director Anders Walter, won an OSCAR* in 2014.

"I was immediately blown away by the pilot for Hand of God," says Heise. "It's a very interesting story and I loved the look of it. The scripts are unique and filled with constant surprises. In prep, Marc and I talked about the pilot and how we saw it moving forward. We talked about film noir as an inspiration for a timeless feel."

Although the time and place are not specific, production designer Suzuki Ingerslev chose and designed the sets and locations with an aged and vintage feel, "like time had stood still since the booming 1980s," notes Heise.

Forster and Heise referred to LA Confidential and The Insider, both photographed in the widescreen Super 35 film format by Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC. "The Insider is a cinematographic masterpiece," Heise conveys. "The way the camera tells the story via the emotional point of view of the characters is really amazing. When I'm looking for a style in a Pr°ject, I try to not make the rules too rigid. It's easy to lend style to your pr°ject by saving 'I'll shoot everything handheld,' or 'I'm only using long lenses.' On The Insider, Michael Mann used every tool in his arsenal to tell a particular scene in the best way."

For all these reasons and more, Forster and Koenigswieser shot the pilot on 35mm KODAK Film. Heise followed suit on the episodes.

"Film is a great choice for this project for several reasons," the DP explains. "For one, the film look really fits our style. We wanted something that didn't feel brand new, but instead had an older, familiar look. Another reason for 35mm film is that we are producing a 4K show. …

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