Julie Kirkwood: I don’t like to pair the highest resolution with the most pristine, sharp lenses. I think we’re getting to a point where there’s almost too much sharpness and detail, so I like to use older lenses or take the edge off of newer ones. With the help of Panavision, we landed on a set of detuned Primos. I don’t want to see every pore on an actor’s face, especially not on DESTROYER, where we were dealing with two different time periods and many of the actors wore make up and/or prosthetics to change their age by 17 years.
I wanted to use the Alexa Mini for the ease of use on set, since we knew we would be shooting in 38 different locations and moving very quickly on an indie film schedule. I also wanted a small camera body that could be stripped down for all of our time spent inside the main character’s car. From the beginning I planned to go for extreme blown out highlights, and I feel that the Alexa rounds highlights in the most natural way among digital cameras, and the skin tones feel the most accurate.
Alexander Dynan: When [director] Paul Schrader and I started FIRST REFORMED, it was important to him that we reflected the source material that he was drawing on – Bresson, Dryer, and Bergman. As a result we decided to frame in 1:33:1. Yet we still wanted the film to feel modern so we embraced the digital quality of the Alexa. I chose the Master Primes because I really love how at a deep stop they hold different planes of focus within the image.
Mihai Mălaimare: The first week in prep [director] George [Tillman Jr.] and I discussed about how everybody will expect a very gritty look from this movie. We decided to surprise the audience by choosing a different approach. The best description for what we envisioned was a high contrast image like Eli Reed’s photography printed on high gloss paper. We realized that anamorphic glass will be the best tool for this so we went with Ultra Panavision 70. We also chose the Primo 70 lenses for the private school scenes to enhance the contrast between Starr’s two worlds. The Vista Vision size sensor of the Millennium DXL allowed us to use this amazing anamorphic 1.3x set but also gave us the opportunity to use super wide spherical lenses with almost no distortion.
Read the full set of interviews here.