Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC recently relied on a series of 10 Cooke S4/i focal lengths to shoot Gabriele Muccino‘s latest feature Fathers and Daughters, starring Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried.
Hurlbut’s lens package for the Canon EOS D500 and MōVI digital 3-axis gyro-stabilized handheld camera gimbal included the Cooke S4/i 14mm, 18mm, 21mm, 27mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm and 135mm lenses. Fathers and Daughters, a Voltage Films and Busted Shark production of a Voltage Pictures film, marks the ninth feature film Hurlbut has shot with Cooke lenses.
“After two days of lens tests with a variety of manufacturers’ prime and zoom lenses, it became very clear once we projected onto a 40-foot screen, Cooke was the best lens to tell our story,” said Hurlbut. “The ‘jaw drop’ for Muccino was the three-dimensional quality of the Cookes versus the one-dimensional quality of the other lenses tested. We were going to be shooting in small places – a New York City apartment and a social services office – and the Cookes pulled the actors out of the background, giving more depth to the image. Actors appeared to be 30 feet away from the background with the Cookes versus 10 feet away with other lenses. We were able to get a three-dimensional feel through the optics. In the hair and makeup tests, the lenses made the actors come alive.”
The physical attributes of the S4/i lenses helped with the camera’s maneuverability. “The MōVI has a unique energy all its own, and the camera never really settles – but it needs a lightweight lens – the Cooke S4/i lenses are light enough for the MōVI,” he commented.
With a circumference of 3-1/2 to 4 inches of glass, compared to other manufacturers’ lenses with half that, the Cooke lenses gave Hurlbut lots of glass for faces. “You could almost see around the face. What the Cookes did to Amanda’s face was incredible with its 3D-like quality,” said Hurlbut. “The Cooke lenses are a very neutral piece of glass, which then allowed me the ability to go very warm and golden with the lighting. The design of the film’s look is through the eyes of what an 8-year old girl sees and remembers in her mind, which both Gabriele and I thought was typically warmer and nicer than reality.”
As an emotional rollercoaster, the producers and director of Fathers and Daughters did not want the look of the film to be that as well. “Katie’s [Amanda Seyfried’s character] vision of her dad, life, and apartment needed to be warm, golden and saturated. A complete polar opposite of the film itself – losing her mom, dad, and every relationship she finds herself in, not being able to love. We needed the ability to tell the story through younger Katie’s [Kylie Rogers] eyes. The Cooke S4/i lenses were instrumental in helping me do that,” said Hurlbut.