February 1, 2016
Sundance 2016

Behind the Scenes on the Stunning Cinematography of Sundance Winner ‘The Birth of a Nation' [PODCAST]

The Birth of a Nation Sundance Cinematography Elliot Davis
At the 2016 Sundance Film Festivalactor-writer-director Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award and sold for a record $17.5 millionListen to our 40-minute in-depth podcast with cinematographer Elliot Davis (The Iron Lady, Twilight, Out of Sight) right here:

The Birth of a Nation cinematography 

Cinematographer: Elliot Davis

Technical specs: 2.40:1, Arri Alexa XT, Red Dragon

The Birth of a Nation Sundance Cinematography Elliot Davis
Credit: Elliot Davis

"Nate explained to me, 'this is a dark period in history. The film should not be afraid to be dark."

The Birth of a Nation Sundance Cinematography Elliot Davis
Credit: Elliot Davis

"Nate had lived with this project for seven years... he already knew every frame of the movie."

The Birth of a Nation Sundance Cinematography Elliot Davis
Credit: Elliot Davis

"The sooner [the director] sees what you want it to look like, the better, because that's the only look they know."

The Birth of a Nation Sundance Cinematography Elliot Davis
Credit: Elliot Davis

"My best tool is the Digital Intermediate. If I had to make a film with only one thing, that's what I would make it with. I would give up all of my lights, of course you can't give up the camera, but I would just have the camera and the DI."

The Birth of a Nation Sundance Cinematography Elliot Davis
Credit: Elliot Davis

"Develop yourself as a person. To me, the way you do that is you study anything but cinematography. You want to develop a way of looking at the world, a worldview that becomes your own."


 

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No Film School's podcasts from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival are sponsored by Canon and Rode Microphones.

No Film School's podcasts from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival are sponsored by Canon and Rode Microphones.      

For more from Sundance, see our complete coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Your Comment

10 Comments

Saw the film and was thoroughly impressed (a few ham-fisted scenes aside), very well made film. BUT, I have a big problem in not addressing the fact Turner and his rebellion murdering innocent women and children not being shown or even hinted at in the film. You want to show the 'dark history' but neglect a big aspect of that history due to showcasing your protagonist as 'clean'? Big mistake.

February 1, 2016 at 6:33PM

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Shhhh, you're not being PC. DAS RAYCIS.

February 1, 2016 at 8:57PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
981

Innocent? Wrong place for this conversation, I'm sure.

February 2, 2016 at 1:58AM, Edited February 2, 1:59AM

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"Innocent"? even though they owned slaves? Right. You need to look at the film contextually and remove yourself from the trappings of modern values.

February 2, 2016 at 7:57PM

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Semilore Joshua Olusa
Film Student/Prospective Cinematographer
74

Yes, I guess the children DID purchase those slaves right?

Get off your damn high horse guy. Stop blaming everything else for your shortcomings as well.

February 2, 2016 at 11:50PM

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Kinda strange seeing an article about the film's "stunning cinematography" when most of us haven't even been able to see a trailer yet, lol... All this talk of about this film without a trailer is frustrating, haha!

February 1, 2016 at 9:11PM, Edited February 1, 9:11PM

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David West
Writer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor
930

Agreed, and none of the stills I've seen have been impressive at all (compare the ones above to any still from 12 Years A Slave). Also, when a "behind-the-scenes" is advertised I'm expecting a video of some sort, this was just an interview (though a very good one).

February 2, 2016 at 1:24AM

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John Morse
Producer + Director
2255

Great interview. Asked the simple questions I want to hear. Very clear and concise. Thanks!

February 1, 2016 at 10:42PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
476

Not a fan of the desaturated LUT.

February 2, 2016 at 2:21PM, Edited February 2, 2:21PM

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What is the relationship between this movie and the original?

Funny how that's NEVER DISCUSSED.

February 6, 2016 at 6:23AM

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David Gurney
DP
1507

NATE made his choice on what he wanted to discuss...they were interviewing him, not me...not you.

February 12, 2016 at 11:28AM

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mark thomas
writer-director
81