In Rachel Getting Married, directed by Jonathan Demme, director of photography Declan Quinn catches the improvisational nature of the film. Toward this end, he uses fluid handheld shooting with multiple HD cameras, and as much natural light as possible. There is also lots of in-your-face photography to visually tell the story of a wedding disrupted by the bride’s sister who has just gotten out of drug rehabilitation.
When Quinn was photographing actors directly in front of their faces, “we interacted a lot just enjoying the intimacy of me being in among them,” says the DP. “They were welcoming that—we’d do a take and have a laugh about how absurd it seemed to them. In one of the really emotional scenes I’d start crying behind the camera, and they’d be amazed.”
Quinn used a multiplicity of cameras. For example, in the rehearsal dinner sequence, there were five. “They were divvied up in different ways,” he says. “I had two main cameras and several small ones for point of view and for a more degraded image. Mine was the main camera with the actors, and even one of the characters at the dinner was also filming.” At the wedding reception, the person playing the videographer was actually photographing while he was within the camera frame. And one of the musicians in the film, Jimmy Joe Roche, also pitched in with another camera during the musical interludes.
The main cameras Quinn used were the HD Sony 900, which was able to record out to a separate deck, and Canon’s nimble $5,000 Prosumer, one of the DP’s favorite, despite the fact it had no playback device. “HD is still a kind of awkward technology,” he notes. The current generation of digital cameras like the Red, the Arri and the Genesis, in his view, is the first time we’re getting to something approaching film, and digital is sure to keep getting in the future.”
Quinn has done both theatrical films like In America, Breakfast on Pluto and Leaving Las Vegas as well as documentaries. He was the cinematographer on Jimmy Carter: the Man from Plains, also directed by Demme. Currently in postproduction is a musical film, Neil Young’s Trunk Show, with the same director.
Previous Noms and Wins
2004: Win, Independent Spirit Award, best cinematography, In America; 1998: Win, Independent Spirit Award, best cinematography, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love; 1996: Win, Independent Spirit Award, best cinematography, Leaving Las Vegas.