BOJAN BAZELLI   ASC

 

Born: 15 August 1957, Herceg-Novi, Yugoslavia [Montenegro].

Education: FAMU, Prague [graduated in 1985].

Career: 'I was born and raised in Montenegro, when it was part of the former Yugoslavia. My father was the local doctor. I grew up and went to high school there. I took pictures with my dad's camera. We lived in a very small apartment with not much space. After a while, I converted my mother's pantry into a dark room. I got more and more interested in film as a media for expression, and decided that I wanted to go to a school where I could learn about filmmaking. The Prague Academy of Performing Arts had a Film and TV School that was divided into five branches, including directing, cinematography and producing. You had to apply to one of those divisions. I knew that I wanted to be a cinematographer from the beginning. I did have mentors, including Miroslav Ondrícek. When he was shooting 'Amadeus' in Prague in 1984, I was kind of an apprentice. [The Film School had] a five-year program, but I stayed an extra year in order to complete a feature length film that we had started. It was a story of a boy who grows up in a communist country and wants a better life for himself. Director Abel Ferrara either saw it at a festival or someone showed it to him. I was sitting in a café in Prague when someone came in looking for me. He introduced himself and asked if I would be interested in traveling to the United States to do a movie with a director named Abel Ferrara. At first, I thought it was a joke. But, he was an agent who tracked me down through the film school. About a week later, I flew to New York and met Abel. We started shooting 'China Girl' seven days later. [...] I shot 17 movies before I did my first commercial. I was going from one project to another, and never spent a day thinking about shooting commercials, probably because the opportunity never came up until I worked on 'Kalifornia'. The director was Dominic Sena, who worked on a lot of commercials. All of a sudden I started getting phone calls to shoot commercials. It was a new and interesting experience, because it allowed me to experiment with images in different ways.' [From interview with Bob Fisher on the KODAK OnFilm website.]

Ph music videos. Ph numerous commercials dir by Bruce Dowad [for Coca-Cola, Canon, a.o.], Charles Wittenmeier, Barry Sonnenfeld, Vincent Ward [for Universal Studios Theme Parks], Michael Shaun Conaway, Rachel Harms, Traktor [for Mountain Dew], Olivier Gondry [for Hyundai], Arev Manoukia [2011; for Sony (also in 3-D)], a.o.

Member of the ASC since 2007.

Awards: Independent Spirit Award nom [1991] for 'King of New York'; Awards from the Association of Independent Commercial Producers [AICP] in 1996 [for Mercedes-Benz; d: Bruce Dowad] & 1998 [for Isuzu; d: Bruce Dowad].


 With dir Adam Shankman [right] - "Hairspray" [2006]

 

'Hairspray' [2006], the 1988 cult classic directed by John Waters and shot by David Insley, was a scruffy, endearing call for social tolerance. Fourteen years later, a theatrical musical based upon Waters' movie arrived on Broadway. The newest 'Hairspray' is a musical movie based on both the original film and the Broadway play. Director Adam Shankman chose cinematographer Bojan Bazelli to handle the visuals on the project.

Bazelli says that the film's early '60s look was inspired by the cover of a book by photographer Robert Polidori entitled 'Moods of La Habana'. "This film's era needed a very specific look that I felt needed to come from a negative," Bazelli says. "I wanted to have a very clean, one-on-one point of origination for the image, where I could see in advance how it printed on a release stock. I did not want to create the look in the DI." After extensive testing, Bazelli opted for KODAK Vision2 200T 5217 film, underdeveloped one full stop. "The printing light range that best suited the DI film-out was around 25-28, which in most cases would be fairly low," he says. "The goal was to create a range of transparent blacks that was consistent with the period. With our approach, you can almost put your hand into the blacks and find details across every corner of the frame. The same thing went for the color palette. While the movie is filled with vivid costumes and production design, the overall palette is much less saturated than a contemporary feel, because we did not want to exaggerate the image through contrast. The look was all determined in advance on print stock, without regard to the DI."

"We had 13 weeks of pre-production, and I was able to learn every dance number by heart and what each featured dancer was doing in each scene. I basically had to learn how to be a dancer in order to shoot this film," he laughs. The crew had 64 days to accomplish the film, mostly on locations in and around Toronto.

Bazelli's team used a combination of old and new lenses. Cooke S4 Primes were supplemented by 40-year-old Cooke Panchros, which are softer and less contrasty than modern optics. Ultra-sharp ARRI/Zeiss Master Primes were employed for nighttime exteriors that did not feature any dancing, where exposures could comfortably be set below T1.6 and extend dusk 40 minutes or more. Shankman had shot all his previous films with anamorphic lenses, but Bazelli steered his director toward using Super 35mm, which results in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.

Several flashback sequences required different looks. One example is a tango sequence, where Bazelli shot the entire scene with a red filter, and used yellow as secondary background color. "Gels take three to four stops of intensity so you need big lights to get an exposure," he says. "For that shot we used six 20Ks, and eight 12-light Maxi-Brutes with diffusion. We had to start with very large sources just to get the soft period feel we wanted."

Bazelli says he took great pride in seeing the entire period look of the film already present as designed when he began the DI timing. "The only additions we may make are a one-half to three-quarter of a stop differentiation between the corners of the frame and the center," he says. "It's a very slight vignetting process to further enhance the period feel."

Looking back, Bazelli says he was surprised nearly every day by what was uncovered on the set. "On the first day of shooting, the actors opened their mouths and songs came out instead of dialogue," he recalls. "You realize, okay, I'm going to have to think on my feet because the traditional approach may not apply. Because Adam gave us so much latitude and freedom to create the film's look, the risks taken on this film were as much about having the courage to trust my intuition and experience as they were working in a brand new genre." [From the KODAK InCamera website, July 2007.]


 

 FILMS & INTERNET

1986

China Girl [Abel Ferrara] c

1987

Tapeheads [Bill Fishman] c; 2uc: Bryan Duggan; end title seq ph: Patrick Darrin; + small part

1987

Pumpkinhead/Vengeance: The Demon [Stan Winston] c

1987

Patty Hearst [Paul Schrader] c; ph San Francisco: Stuart Barbee

1988

Big Man on Campus/The Hunchback Hairball of L.A. [Jeremy Kagan] c

1988

A Gnome Named Gnorm/Upworld [Stan Winston] c; addph: Jeffrey Jur; 2uc: Vincent Baldino

1989

King of New York [Abel Ferrara] c

1990

The Rapture [Michael Tolkin] c; + small part

1991

Deep Cover [Bill Duke] c; 2uc: Frank Holgate

1992

Body Snatchers [Abel Ferrara] Arriscope/c; 2uc: Henry Link

1992

Kalifornia [Dominic Sena] s35/c

1992

Boxing Helena [Jennifer Chambers Lynch] c; cph: Frank Byers; addph: Steven Fierberg

1992

Sugar Hill/Harlem [Leon Ichaso] c

1993

Surviving the Game [Ernest Dickerson] c

1996

Dangerous Beauty/A Destiny of Her Own/The Honest Courtesan [Marshall Herskovitz] s35/c

2000

For the Love of May [Mary Beth McDonough] c; short/17m

2001

The Ring [Gore Verbinski] c; 2uc: Patrick Loungway; aph: David B. Nowell; time-lapse ph: Bill Mitchell; filmed 2001-02; remake of 'Ringu/Ring' (1997, Hideo Nakata; ph: Jun'ichirô Hayashi)

2004

Mr. & Mrs. Smith [Doug Liman] s35/c; 2uc: Paul Hughen, Sandi Sissel & Jonathan Taylor; ph New York: Michael Carmine; ph re-shoot Italy: Roberto De Angelis; aph: David B. Nowell; vfx ph: Dennis McHugh

2006

Hairspray [Adam Shankman] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Glen Keenan; see above

 

[4th from the right] - "G-Force"

 

2007

G-Force [Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr.] s35 (+ D-Cinema [also 3-D version])/c; 2uc: Mark Vargo

2008

The Sorcerer's Apprentice [Jon Turteltaub] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; addph (reshoots early 2010): Ben Seresin; 2uc: Patrick Loungway; aph: Hans Bjerno

2009

Burlesque [Steven Antin] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; uncred addph: Dino Parks; + assoc prod

2011

Rock of Ages [Adam Shankman] HD (ARRI ALEXA)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Goran Pavicevic; aph: Dylan Goss

2012

The Lone Ranger [Gore Verbinski] p+HD (ARRI ALEXA Studio)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Patrick Loungway; aph: David B. Nowell & Michael Kelem; uwph: Peter Zuccarini; edge system ph: Brooks Guyer, Dean Mitchell, Hans Bjerno & Greg Baldi; element unit ph: Josh Bleibtreu; miniature efx + sfx ph: Patrick Sweeney

2014

Spectral/Lazarus [Nic Mathieu] HD (ARRI ALEXA M/scope & XT Studio/scope)-to-D-Cinema/c; 2uc (+ c.op 'd' cam): Stewart Whelan; Israel unit ph: Tobias Hochstein; aph: Jeremy Braben; for Netflix

2015

Pete's Dragon [David Lowery] HD (ARRI ALEXA XT Studio/scope)-to-D-Cinema (scope [also 3-D version])/c; 2uc: John Cavill; remake of film (1976, Don Chaffey; ph: Frank Phillips)

2015

A Cure for Wellness [Gore Verbinski] HD (ARRI ALEXA XT, XT M & XT Studio)-to-D-Cinema/c

2016

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales [Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg] HD (ARRI ALEXA XT/scope & Mini/scope)-to-D-Cinema (+ IMAX 3-D)/c; addph (March-April); ph (2015): Paul Cameron

2017

Underwater [William Eubank] HD/c

 

 TELEVISION

1988

The Comeback [Jerrold Freedman] tvm

1989

The Haunting of Sarah Hardy [Jerry London] tvm

1990

Curiosity Kills [Colin Bucksey] tvm

1990

Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture [Frank Pierson] tvm

1990

Fever [Larry Elikann] tvm

1991

The Last Prostitute [Lou Antonio] tvm

1992

The Fear Inside [Leon Ichaso] tvm

2006

3 lbs [pilot dir by Barry Levinson] unaired pilot for 8-part (4 unaired) series, 2006; other ph: William Wages & Dejan Georgevich