The show is called Everybody Hates Chris, but Emmy-nominated director of photography Mark Doering-Powell says the crew loves working together.“It’s not an easy show to do,” says Doering-Powell, of the sitcom, which aired its first season on UPN and moves to The CW this autumn. “But it really is a situation where everyone is working on the same project. The crew is amazing and puts in so much work.”The show, based on the childhood of comedian Chris Rock, is often packed full of characters, with many scenes and key roles played by child actors whose hours are limited.Doering-Powell says packing in all that material has forced the show to be very tight. “I don’t think we’ve had an establishing shot in any episode ever,” he says. “The broad strokes are that the house, the home, is warm and inviting,” he says. “The way Ali LeRoi, our showrunner, put it, this is a functional family in a dysfunctional world.”The show’s school setting, by contrast, is much cooler, playing off the joke that Chris Rock’s mother sent him to a school in an Italian neighborhood because she thinks white schools are better.Set in the early 1980s, the show avoids being overly obvious about the time period. “We’re trying to say 1984,” he says. “There is some color peppered in, but it’s not a color explosion.”Doering-Powell says he submitted the nominated episode “Everybody Hates Funerals” for Emmy consideration mostly because it’s one of the best scripts, including funny and tender scenes. The episode also has the most scenes in it of any in the show’s first season, with more than 60. “Some are real quick,” Doering-Powell says. “But you still have to go somewhere and light a new set.”It also had a large cast of speaking parts, requiring more coverage than normal. Doering-Powell credits director Mark Shakman with doing an excellent job of blocking the show to maximize efficiency.“I’m really proud of that episode because of the challenges we faced, and we had a really good director,” Doering-Powell says.
Written by Tom McLean