How does Arrival DP Bradford Young create the mesmerizing atmospheres in his work?
Bradford Young is one of the most talented DPs working today, having collaborated with iconic directors like Ava DuVernay (Selma) and most recently Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). Through his keen sense of lighting and use of color, he manages to create his signature hot/cold atmospheres, which is one aspect of Young's approach to cinematography wolfcrow's Sareesh Sudhakaran explores in his latest cinematography breaksdown. Check it out below:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KdH65PM15I
Despite his extensive work on feature films, Young has also showcased his skill in documentaries, commercials, and music videos for MGMT, Nora Jones, and Beck. Perhaps it is from this freedom to explore, experiment, and take chances that he is able to embrace his unique visual style as, what Sudhakaran calls, a truly "modern cinematographer."
And part of being a modern cinematographer means embracing digital cameras, which Young certainly has done. This has affected his work in many ways, like his affinity for shallow depth of field, his handheld camera work, and his fearlessness of keeping his subjects in the shadows.
One aspect I find extremely interesting about Young's work is his brilliant use of color, particularly how he combines warm and cool colors within the same shot. You can see examples of this in almost all of his films, from Ain't Them Bodies Saints to Mother of George.
Of course, Young is a like other professional DPs and caters his work to the director's vision. You can see this especially when comparing the work he did on smaller independent features like Mother of George, which had a tiny budget of (reportedly) $750K, and larger semi-indie features like Arrival, which had a much higher budget of $45 million. However, he certainly has a unique visual style that anyone could pinpoint, whether or not he's working with big name directors and Hollywood stars.
If you want to learn more about Young, I highly suggest you look at his body of work, especially the films mentioned in this article.