DP Stuart White on The Conversation

Mar 3, 2019

Up and coming DP, Stuart White, wrote in with details about his work on The Conversation, which was screened as a finalist at the BSC Emerging Cinematographers Night.

“20 pages, 44 scenes. Barcelona after dark. Actors thrown through windows, furious fights down stairwells, and high-speed motorbike chases across the city. The Conversation was written to show studios how Adam Crow can direct an action blockbuster, in five days.

Recces with the production crew began to pinpoint our battle plan and locations. I submitted a camera and lighting list, which morphed as locations and scene structures changed to satisfy our micro-budget.

Post-production SFX and camera techniques (handheld, tripod, slider, Mōvi Pro, MT400 jib and car mount) pointed to the use of the Alexa Mini and Cooke S4i lenses. The communication between the WCU-4 controller and the camera was paramount to my team always being ready to go and to record all the metadata needed. Our gaffer was Manel Fernandez, with key grip Xavi Torres and 1st AC Chris Pollitt.

It was evident that ARRI SkyPanels would be a lifesaver and I’d requested around a dozen Lee colours for different scenes. Adam gave me Michael Mann, Paul Greengrass and David Fincher films as reference. For me, moonlight in Barcelona is never blue due to the amber and gold hues all over the city at night. So we used Steel Green 728 on the Maxibrutes and Millennium Gold 778 on practicals. Light Blue 118 was added to white encapsulates for the ‘bad guys’ operations room.

The team worked seamlessly every night building an MT 400 jib on track, 12K maxi brutes on 40-ft cranes for rooftops and four-storey factory corridors. They added gels to existing practicals and drilled new fixings into crumbling concrete where our locations were too gloomy. Sometimes I had to adapt. A wirecam was built to fly through an old factory, but had to be canned due to stunts being too dangerous in our timeframe. Luckily, choreographed handheld is something I thrive on and those scenes came out super-dynamic.”

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