You would think being the cinematographer on the first Bible epic shot in 3D might warrant a little attention, but Exodus: Gods and Kings DP Dariusz Wolski kept a fairly low profile during the run-up to that film’s theatrical release.
In fact, I don’t believe I had come across any Exodus-themed interviews with Wolski prior to this week, when What Culture ran a Q&A with the man in connection with the film’s home-video release in the UK. But the existence of that interview got me curious, so I searched around and dug up a few more interviews as well.
Here’s an excerpt from the What Culture interview:
Brendon: Can we try to establish the basic working processes between yourself and Ridley Scott?
Dariusz: Ridley is very specific about what he wants but, nevertheless, he’s always open to suggestion. He loves to use multiple cameras, and I do too, but it can be a bit of a puzzle to get them there. He likes to stage the scene and then find a way to photograph it; we discuss the staging, then find places for the cameras, and it’s a bit like a Rubik’s Cube, putting things together so it all works well.
Brendon: So is the staging worked out before the actors come onto set?
Dariusz: Ridley goes through rehearsals with his actors, but that’s mostly about the script. When it comes to staging the whole spectacle, he does very extensive storyboards. Then again, when we’re on the set, we’re still pretty open about it. The storyboards are essential to the certain visual ideas he gets very early in the process, and for the production design and art department, so they’re working within what he wants to shoot later.
Ridley is very flexible, though, so we do make things on set. It’s essential to be able to do this on such complicated movies.
Curiously, What Culture doesn’t ask about the specifically 3D aspect of the film, which presumably would have doubled the multi-camera craziness on set.
That question does come up in this interview with Film and Digital Times:
What equipment are you using [on The Martian]?
Panavision equipment and 3ality. Since my early 3-D days, we used RED cameras because of the size. Now we’re using RED Dragons. Our lenses are small Angenieux Optimo zoom lenses, so we don’t have to change lenses to change focal lengths. The biggest problem in 3D is changing lenses, because that takes forever. Basically we devised a system with lots of multiple cameras. This movie has four rigs. On “Exodus” we had five rigs. We have two wide rigs and two tight rigs. That’s why those little Angenieux Optimo zooms are basically indispensible. They are the best thing that could happen for us. We have 15-40 mm T2.6 Optimo zooms for the wide rigs and 28-76 mm T2.6 Optimos for the tight rigs. With that range, we don’t change lenses, which is great. We line up the shot and adjust the focal length.
On “Exodus” we actually went a little bit longer because it was just really a big landscape movie and so we also had a fifth rig that had another set of small Angenieux Optimo zoom: 45-120 T2.8. I was afraid to use longer lenses at first, but when you deal with big landscapes, they actually work pretty well.
Movie Geeks United has a 35-minute podcast chat with Wolski that you can stream.
And there is this ultra-brief soundbite from the film’s premiere in London:
If I find any more Exodus-themed interviews with Wolski, I will add them to this post.