The Coens often work with the same crew, and their usual cinematographer is Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. The directors called on Delbonnel because Deakins was busy shooting Skyfall, and the Frenchcinematographer was able to work with two of Deakins’ regular collaborators, gaffer William O’Leary and key grip Mitch Lillian. Lillian recalls that Delbonnel quickly became “part of the family.”
At first, Delbonnel wanted to bring in a camera operator, but the Coens asked him to operate, “like Roger does,” and he was delighted to comply. During prep, Lillian suggested adding a Mo-Sys remote head and a jib arm to the grip package, but Delbonnel declined. “I told Mitch, ‘I’m not Roger Deakins; I don’t want that,’” recalls the cinematographer. “Then, during the first week of shooting, Joel or Ethan would say, ‘Bruno, what if we moved the camera a little bit this way?’ And we would have to re-lay the dolly track. After a week of that, I told Mitch that I finally understood, and yes, we should add a jib arm!”
“Roger and Mitch have created a system that is very flexible and saves time,” continues Delbonnel. “You don’t have to measure the track down to the millimeter because you can reframe very easily with the jib arm. Also, the jib gives you a 6-meter [19′] range, so you can go farther than the track, which we often did.”
“We broke the remote head out at least once a day — the Coen brothers are used to it because Roger’s always on the remote and on the jib arm,” says Lillian. “We also use the jib to keep actors from having to walk on the tracks. And you can do compound moves; you’re not stuck in one direction. The jib also keeps the dolly and operator away from the lighting.”
Read the full article here.