Magazine article Variety

Powerful Images for Small Screen

Magazine article Variety

Powerful Images for Small Screen

Article excerpt

THE EXTRAORDINARY QUALITY of cinematography under Emmy consideration, not to mention the sheer number of shows, makes predicting winners a fool's errand. Further complicating matters is the array of studios and production entities, each of which works under a unique set of circumstances.

For example, HBO need not concern itself with advertisers, and streaming outfits don't necessarily have to make their numbers public or even make a profit on a particular project.

Then there are the traditional networks and free cable channels.

Suffice it to say that many of today's productions rival feature films in terms of excellence. Filmmakers constantly blur the line between films and TV in terms of budget, schedule, cast, mindset and expectations.

"Fahrenheit 451" is a good example. Directed by Ramin Bahrani for HBO, the film debuted at Cannes and hit TV screens in time for Emmy consideration, an unusual path. Director of photography Kramer Morgenthau, a five-time Emmy nominee, says he approached the project exactly as he would a feature. The schedule was roughly 40 days, luxurious by the television standards of a few years ago.

"Television screens have gotten so big and so good that you can't compromise anything," says Morgenthau. "So much of it is the culture of the shoot. Because of economic pressures, some studios embrace taking bigger chances. HBO does often have more money. I've done indie features with a quarter of the money we had on 'Fahrenheit 451.' "

DP Rob McLachlan has two Emmy nominations for HBO's "Game of Thrones" and is shooting "Ray Donovan" for Showtime. McLachlan is adding an executive producer credit on the new season, reflecting his expanded role in the decision-making as the show moves to New York. He says more money doesn't always translate to top quality.

"Shows have tried to match what was done on 'Game of Thrones,' thinking that a huge budget is enough," he says. …

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