Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Immersed in Movies: Cinematographer Dod Mantle Talks Ron Howard's 'Rush' and 'In the Heart of the Sea' (VIDEO)

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood September 20, 2013 at 2:41PM

Anthony Dod Mantle is in the race for his second Oscar for "Rush," and explains how he processed and integrated archival footage with live-action cinematography for a '70s painterly look.
1
Ron Howard Rush
Ron Howard's "Rush" screened at the first annual Jalopnik Film Festival last year.

Versatile director Ron Howard has forged a collaboration with Oscar-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle ("Slumdog Millionaire") in pushing his vision in new creative directions. And he couldn't find two more disparate fact-based movies about obsession than the racing biopic "Rush" and the survivalist, high-seas drama, "In the Heart of the Sea," both written by Peter Morgan and starring Chris Hemsworth, which they started shooting this month in England.

"Rush," of course, is about the notorious '70s Formula 1 rivalry between drivers James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), while "In the Heart of the Sea" follows a 19th-century whaling expedition that turns into a nightmare, thanks to the infamous beast that inspired Herman Melville's classic "Moby-Dick."

In fact, with "Rush," Dod Mantle introduced Howard to digital shooting and a more radical look for his first indie-financed movie in nearly 40 years. Although the Morgan script begins conventionally enough, setting up the contrasting backgrounds, flaws, and unstopping ambition of the long-haired British playboy (Hunt) and cerebral and cold-hearted Austrian (Lauda), the second-half flies as fast as its title. And despite their differences, Hunt and Lauda become kindred spirits.

"Ron wasn't the first director that comes to mind for 'Rush,' and I wasn't the first cinematographer that would come to mind for him either," Dod Mantle admits. "Ron is a remarkably calm, sane, and pleasant person and I like how he's brought out the humanity between these fierce competitors." 

But director and cinematographer were both drawn to Formula 1. The cinematographer fondly recalls watching motor racing as a kid as he sucked ice cream, smelled burning rubber, saw beautiful models and cringed at accidents. He found the gladiator-like exhibition strangely fascinating with these coffins on wheels. "I've loved sports and played sports all my life and motor racing has been an odd, unresolved chapter. Having now spent six months drilling holes in these cars and putting cameras up their exhaust pipes, I feel I now know a lot more about it."

However, with a budget under $40 million, Dod Mantle didn't have the luxury of scouting the famous locations on the Formula 1 circuit, let alone recreating them digitally. So he had to develop a way of creating his own unique production values. "And that meant we were dependent on certain archival material, which we would manipulate, ultimately, and take cars out and put our cars in.

"But to get that far, we had to go through hours and hours and hours of affordable archives, most of which was absolute rubbish. Or for me was too ugly or too unpleasant. We had to find the relevant races that provided me the beats of information and production values needed and were of a sufficient aesthetic and technical standard that could work, which was very hard in the '70s. You're talking not only 35mm but also 16mm, and telecine material where the negative was damaged. We took the best that we could and tested it and I took it through [various] processes with my own people and also the post house [Double Negative] to try and see what I could lift up and at what level. 

"The aesthetic was a very painterly and, what I thought, an inspiring, visceral, sexy, color palette, and not the desaturated, golf ball grain, sadness of '70s. In Monaco, I was particularly struck by the yellow, cyan, and red. It's not pristine -- it has grit. The drivers were eccentric and raggedy; they had dirty underwear and bad hair, in comparison to multi-millionaire motor racing drivers now and their entourage."

This article is related to: Rush, Ron Howard, Immersed In Movies, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Interviews , Interviews


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.