Cinematographer Robert Richardson ASC shares his thoughts on shooting Ben Affleck's prohibition-era gangster film with ARRI Rental's ALEXA 65 system.
Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, LIVE BY NIGHT stars Ben Affleck -- who also writes, co-produces and directs -- as Joe Coughlin, a Boston police captain's son whose affair with a mobster's mistress sees him dragged inexorably into a life of crime.
Cinematographer Robert Richardson ASC chose to shoot with ALEXA 65 cameras from ARRI Rental, combining them with vintage lenses supplied by Panavision. After LIVE BY NIGHT he went on to select ALEXA 65 again for the Andy Serkis film BREATHE, on which he utilized custom-designed lenses from ARRI Rental.
The results were graded by Yvan Lucas to attempt a near-match of all three and then shown to Ben at The Shed on a 4K screen. After viewing them several times we went into each of the three tests, blowing them up to analyze grain structure and determining if aggressive LUTs would have a positive or negative effect. Further, the test allowed me to determine ASA; I found that since I was shooting without lighting, a few of the interior shots were too far underexposed to register on film. The ALEXA was better but the ALEXA 65 was the best, and that is how we eventually decided on the ALEXA 65.
When the story shifted to Florida the palette of all departments opened wider -- colors in buildings as well as costumes, vehicles, makeup and art direction. This widening of color was slowly stripped away as the influence of Boston upon Florida became greater, with darker hues returning. In addition there was a desire to work with staging so that the scenes would not be covered in a conventional manner at all times; we moved towards complex staging to allow longer takes, while still capturing the dialogue appropriately.