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The Old Man & The Gun - Cinematography and Look

James Malamatinas

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Ive just seen The Old Man & The Gun at the LFF and fell in love with how theyve perfectly recaptured the look feel of 60s/70s Robert Redford era.


Im not familiar with Joe Andersons work and I know the film is only doing festival circuits at the moment but if anyone has insights into the filming style or any links to write ups on how it was shot Id love to learn more.


David Lowry mentioned shooting on 16mm but not a lot about anything e.g. the grade, lenses or other aspects. Im also curious about the whip pan transitions they use for numerous scenes and whether they were in camera.


The film was brilliant and I wholly recommend it if you get the chance. Perfectly nostalgic in the best way, and proof this kind of movie can still be made today without feeling old fashioned. The whole audience seem to share the same feeling and had a huge amount of fun, exactly what Lowry and Bob said they set out to do.

Edited by James Malamatinas
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Saw this a couple of weeks ago and liked the movie but there had to be terrible projection issues at the venue.


Before the film started and there was no image projected, the blank screen had thin vertical alternating light and dark bands (like photos of a light wave through slits in a Physics textbook). I don't know what those are or what causes them, but that can't be good.


Then the picture is self was dim, as if the lamp was not powered fully. Like watching it through waxed paper. Not wanting to miss much of the movie, I made a quick comment to the candy-counter guy - not that anything happened of course but there's a chance it could help down the road.

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Having only seen the trailer I find it a little hard to believe it's S16. Too sharp, looks more like 2-perf 35. I'd also like more info... was it actually cropped for widescreen, or is that just the trailer ? Or did they use anamorphic ?

Indeed it was shot on super16mm using the Arriflex 416 camera so, believe it :D

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've just seen it recently in a cinema. I thought the S16 looked great in terms of definition and the visible grain was fine. I hope more feature movies are shot on this format. However, something wasn't quite right at the cinema where I saw it. Mostly it was fine but sometimes it definitely wasn't. The interior shots all looked good but strangely the exterior day scenes especially in full sunlight in outdoor country/rural scenes or scenes involving trees and grass etc, didn't look right. A strangely dark look almost like underexposed. Just looked dim. And faces in the same scenes were really dark - you could hardly see eyes clearly. Shadows were too dark and basically visual information was cancelled in a lot of shadowing.


Yet before the film came on, in the ads and previews shot on digital the image looked great, very colourful and bright, but when the feature itself started, shot on film, big difference! The image looked noticeably dimmer, with the shadow problem. I was not imagining it, it was a definite problem. I feel the cinematographer really needed to get some additional light into those faces, at the very least. I don't know whether this is a specific issue with shooting on film and projecting digital but it seemed to me like it was. Towards the end of the movie this overly-dark shadowing seemed to be resolved, with a deliberate use of less contrast in the lighting and even costumes, so maybe the filmmakers realised through rushes that there was a problem if these scenes were indeed shot last. Then again could just be an issue with the projector in the cinema I saw it at. But I suspect not.

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My post was a discussion about a technical question related to a reasonably newish trend of shooting feature films on S16 and where they are projected digitally in a cinema. I notice a problem with this process, but my motivation is curiosity about the technical process of why images appear in the cinema the way they do. I apologise if I didn't make that clear and if my wording wasn't the best use of the english language - I'm only human. I was making a query about a process - film photography combined with contemporary cinema digital projection. There was no implied or direct criticism of a professional or group of professionals but if my wording didn't make that clear then, again, I apologise.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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Jon I think maybe Greg was just a little exasperated .. to think that a large production of this type would "realize their mistake from rushes " and then change the lighting, costume etc..is actually a bit down the rabbit hole.. :) haven't seen the film either.. but usually this would be to convey some sort of mood.. the job of the DoP is alot more than correct "bright" exposure so that the ticket paying public is happy..bad projection is another story of course.. quick quiz,, name the recent film that won best film Oscar shoot on 16mm and I believe its the first and only one to do so..

Edited by Robin R Probyn
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Another thing I didn't sufficiently make clear, so here it is. The Old Man and the Gun is a great-looking movie, so go and see it or view it on your TV/device at the earliest opportunity. Not only looks great but it's a good movie with lovely performances from Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek and the others. Great cinematography. The Super 16 looked really nice.

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well, I have long held the belief that in this day and age 16mm is THE look of film....its unmistakable and unquestionable in its look....Moonrise Kingdom, The Last King of Scotland, Anthropoid, Black Swan, Mother!, The Wrestler, Beach Rats, Blue Valentine, The Hurt Locker, Walking Dead (series), El Mariachi....etc etc etc

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