#2: [Right] with Vilmos Zsigmond [2007] - photo by Michael Coate

 

   


M. DAVID MULLEN   ASC

 

Born: 26 June 1962, Iwakuni, Japan, as Merritt David Mullen III.

Education: School of Film/Video of the California Institute of the Arts [CalArts], Santa Clarita [MFA in 1991].

Career: 'I had a long path toward cinematography. I was interested in filmmaking since high school and started making Super-8 films back then. Although I ended up getting a BFA in English Literature at UCLA, I had friends who got into the USC film school and I helped on their films, secretly shooting some of them. After graduation, I continued to make my own Super-8 and then 16mm short films. It wasn't until I was 27 that I decided to get a graduate degree in filmmaking; when I arrived at CalArts in 1988, I was the only incoming student with a strong cinematography background.'

Ph commercials dir by Malcolm Venville ['Sailboat', 2006, for MasterCard], a.o.

Shot test films with the Panasonic AG-DVX100 & Sony PD-150 digital cameras [2002; d: Noah Kadner; short; dv & 35mm transfer/c].

Member of the ASC since 2004.

Updated [2005] the classic textbook 'Cinematography' with original author Kris Malkiewicz.

Appeared in the doc 'Cinematographer Style' [2005, Jon Fauer; ph: J. Fauer, Jeff Laszlo, Brian Heller & David Morgan].

Married to author ('Buster Keaton's Crew')/librarian Lisle Foote.

Awards: Independent Spirit Award nom [1999] for 'Twin Falls Idaho'; Independent Spirit Award nom [2003] for 'Northfork'.

Website: M. David Mullen


Fashioning a 'New Suit' [2001] in 24P HD [by M. David Mullen]: "In the early spring of 2001, I invited 'New Suit' director François Velle to a digitally projected screening of 'Jackpot', a feature I shot in 24P HD for Michael & Mark Polish. Not only was he pleased with the filmlike qualities of the image, but he was intrigued by the fact that 'Jackpot' was composed for a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation [achieved by cropping the 16:9 HD frame]. Shooting 'New Suit' in a similar manner, we used a Sony HDW-F900 with the Canon 5.5-50mm and the Fujinon 7.5-150mm HD zoom lenses. On 'Jackpot', I had turned off the camcorder's artificial sharpening since excessive edge enhancement can be one of the uglier aspects of video imagery on a large screen. However, the final 35mm scope prints of 'Jackpot' exhibited some occasional softness, sometimes due to the optical quality of the Hi-Def zoom lenses at wide apertures. So for 'New Suit', I took advantage of the camera's 'detail' function, but used it at an extremely low level; this seemed to improve overall sharpness without making the image look too edge enhanced. I also decided to shoot 'New Suit' without diffusion filters except for the close-ups, where I used a 1/2 Soft-FX [the lightest grade], only rarely jumping to a 1 Soft-FX. I also tried not to shoot below an f/2.8-f/4 split, and while this increased my depth-of-field compared to shooting wide-open, we used this deeper focus for comedic or dramatic effect when staging the actors. Since 'New Suit' is a comedy, the overall look of the project is rich and colorful, but not garish. François wanted the image to have the overall warm tones of a film like 'Chinatown', so we carefully pushed the art direction, costumes, and lighting in that direction. We will also be printing the final transfer to 35mm onto Vision Premier print stock, which will keep the rich colors and blacks that one would see in digital projection or on a HD monitor. During our 20-day production, because we were shooting tape instead of film, François discovered that he was able to get more takes of performances - we ended up shooting the equivalent of 250,000' of 35mm negative, when most low-budget features generally can only afford to shoot 100,000'. We also saved a little time due to the limited number of camera reloads, since each HDCAM tape holds 50 minutes at 24P. In terms of lighting, the only consideration I make for shooting digitally is that video cameras do not handle overexposure well. Therefore, compared to shooting color negative film, more of my effort is spent controlling the brightest areas in the frame, from carefully choosing the tonality of costumes, furniture and walls, to darkening daytime windows using ND gels, to lowering the intensity of practical lamps with dimmers. However, since the Sony HDW-F900 has a sensitivity at 0 db that roughly equates to that of a 320 ASA film stock, the light levels employed when shooting are very similar to that of a typical 35mm film production. All-in-all, I'm very pleased with the quality that the 24P HD format can deliver; I hope future formats will solve some of the lingering differences between HD and 35mm, primarily in terms of resolution and exposure latitude. But for now, we have in the current 24P HD format something that delivers near-35mm quality but with unique capabilities that some filmmakers will find useful for certain projects, enough to outweigh any disadvantages. It's similar to traditional film but it also has a look that is special to itself, and most cinematographers will be happy to have this new option available to them when choosing the best way to shoot a movie." [From High Def.Org magazine, Autumn 2001.]


 

 FILMS

1990

Love Pig/Bring Me Your Love [Chris Innis] 16mm/c; short/14m

1992

River Bottom [Robert Diaz-LeRoy] b&w-c; 2uc: Jeff Fry; filmed 1992-94

1993

Now Renting [Dan Zukovic] c; short/15m

1993

The Lipstick Camera [Mike Bonifer] c; 'b' cam op: Luc Nicknair

1994

Bajo del perro/Under the Dog [Michael Polish] 16mm/b&w; short/15m

1994

Vertman [Dan Zukovic] 16mm/b&w; short/7m

1994

I Am Here [Markus Lofstrom] b&w; short/9m

1994

Shadow Warriors/Techno-Fear/Techno Sapiens [Lamar Card] c; 2uc; ph: Keith Holland

1994

Ritual [Stanley Bennett Clay] c; 2uc: Luc G. Nicknair; released in 2000

1995

Dead Cold [Kurt Anderson] c/V; 2uc: Dwight Lay

1995

Black Scorpion/Roger Corman Presents 'Black Scorpion' [Jonathan Winfrey] c; co-2uc; ph: Geoffrey George

1996

The Last Big Thing [Dan Zukovic] c

1996

Daddy's Girl [Martin Kitrosser] c; 2uc: Daniel Yarussi

1996

Soulmates [Duane Clark] s16-35bu/c

1996

Cupid [Doug Campbell] c; 2uc: Sean Cohen & Dwight Lay

1996

Man of Her Dreams/The Fiancé [Martin Kitrosser] c

1997

The Night Caller [Robert Malenfant] c; 2uc: Christopher Mosio

1997

Grizzly Mountain [Jeremy Haft] c; 2uc; ph: Andrew Parke

1997

Rusty: A Dog's Tale/Rusty: The Great Rescue [Shuki Levy] c; reshoots ph; ph: Frank Byers; filmed 1996-97

1997

Vermin [Chris Innis] c; 2uc; ph: Kellee Green; + small part

1997

Captured [Peter Liapis] c/V

1998

The Dentist 2 [Brian Yuzna] c; 2uc; ph: Jürgen Baum

1998

Twin Falls Idaho [Michael Polish] c

1999

The Clean and Narrow [William Katt] c

1999

Alone with a Stranger/Dead Simple [Peter Liapis] c; 2uc: Jürgen Baum & Ron Condon

1999

The Perfect Tenant [Doug Campbell] c/V; 2uc: Christopher Mosio, Maximo Munzi & Lon Thompson

1999

The Stepdaughter [Peter Liapis] c; co-2uc; ph: Maximo Munzi

2000

A Moment of Silence [Steven L. Austin] c; short/13m

2000

Still-Life [Neil Alumkal] scheduled as doph; unrealized

2000

Jackpot [Michael Polish] HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm scope/c

2001

The Hypnotist [Anna Biller] 16mm/c; short/45m; cph: William Roland; addph: Chris Nils Laine & Enis Safersah

2001

New Suit [François Velle] HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm scope/c; see above

2001

Stuck [Jamie Babbit] p/c; short/7m

2001

The Tomorrow Man/Time Shifters [Doug Campbell] c

2001

A Foreign Affair/2 Brothers & a Bride [Helmut Schleppi] HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm/c; 2uc: Esli Bijker; filmed 2001-02

2002

Infested [: Invasion of the Killer Bugs] [Josh Olson] HD-to-35mm/c

2002

Northfork [Michael Polish] p/c; 2uc: Jeffrey Guziak

2002

Tom's Nu Heaven [Dale Launer] HD/c

2003

D.E.B.S. [Angela Robinson] HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm scope/c; expanded from the short film 'D.E.B.S.' (2002; ph: Kristian Bernier)

2004

When Do We Eat? [Salvador Litvak] HD-to-35mm scope/c

2004

Dark Arc [Dan Zukovic] 35mm+HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm/c; addph (35mm seq); ph (HD seq): Geoff Denham

2004

Shadowboxer [Lee Daniels] p/c

2004

Cordless [Oren Moverman] scheduled as doph; unrealized

2004

The Quiet/Dot [Jamie Babbit] HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm scope/c

2005

Akeelah and the Bee [Doug Atchison] p+HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm scope/c; 2uc: Chris Mosio; addph: S. Douglas Smith

2005

The Astronaut Farmer [Michael Polish] p/c; 2uc: Phil Pfeiffer; addph: Jeffrey Wilkins

2006

Solstice [Daniel Myrick] s35/c; remake of 'Midsommer' (2002, Carsten Myllerup; ph: Rasmus Videbæk)

2007

Assassination of a High School President [Brett Simon] s35/c

2008

Jennifer's Body [Karyn Kusama] s35+HD (Phantom HD)-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Karl Herrmann; replaced ph Sam McCurdy during pre-production

2008

The Smell of Success/Manure [Larry Smith (= Michael Polish)] RED-to-35mm scope/c; 2uc: James Mathers

2008

Stay Cool [Ted Smith (= Michael Polish)] RED-to-35mm scope/c

2008

Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies [Nicholas Eliopoulos] dv/b&w-c; doc/102m; ph interviews; cph: Joe Mustacchi

2010

Seven Days in Utopia [Matt Russell] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Peter Simonite; aph 2u: Vance Holmes

2011

A Good Thing [Mark Tobey] HD (Sony F35)/c; short/22m

2011

Big Sur [Michael Polish] RED One & Epic-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c

2013

Trinity/Midnight Sun [Chris Eigeman] pre-production; filming is expected to begin summer 2016

2015

90 Minutes in Heaven [Michael Polish] HD (ARRI ALEXA/scope)/c; 2uc: Edward Gutentag

2015

The Love Witch [Anna Biller] 35mm-to-D-Cinema/c

 

 TELEVISION & INTERNET

1990

I'll Be Home for Christmas [Robert Diaz-LeRoy] tvm/28m; uncred 2uc (+ efx c.op): Tom Richmond; for Universal Television's Hispanic Film Project

1998

Devil in the Flesh/Dearly Devoted [Steve Cohen] tvm; co-2uc; ph: Joseph Montgomery

1999

Teacher's Pet/Devil in the Flesh 2 [Marcus Spiegel] tvm; 2uc: Dwight Lay & Daniel Yarussi

2003

[Vampires:] Out for Blood [Richard Brandes] tvm; 2uc: Dwight Lay

2007

Big Love: In the Beginning [ep #2 'Meet the Babysitter' & #3 'Moving Day' dir by David Knoller] 3-part (x 3-5m) series; for HBO-on-Demand, mobile phone, etc.

2007

Big Love [7 ep dir by various] 53-part series, 2006-11; 2nd season, 2007

2008

United States of Tara [pilot dir by Craig Gillespie + 11 ep dir by various] 36-part series/HD (Genesis), 2009-11; 1st season, 2009; cph (pilot): Uta Briesewitz

2009

The Good Wife [pilot dir by Charles McDougall] series/HD (Sony F35), 2009-present; 1st season, 2009-10; other ph: Fred Murphy

2009

United States of Tara [12 ep dir by various] 2nd season, 2010; see 2008

2010

The Chicago Code/Ride Along [pilot dir by Charles McDougall] 13-part series/HD (ARRI ALEXA; pilot was shot with RED), 2011; aph (pilot): Richard Brooks Burton; other ph: Rohn Schmidt

2010

Normal [Timothy Busfield] tvm/HD (ARRI ALEXA); for Lifetime-tv (2011)

2010

United States of Tara [8 ep dir by various] 3rd season, 2011; see 2008

2011

Smash [14 ep dir by various] 32-part series/HD (ARRI ALEXA), 2012-13; 1st season, 2012 (15 ep); other ph (pilot): Shelly Johnson

2013

Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles [Liam Lynch] special/60m; cph: Rhet Bear; for HBO-tv

2013

Mad Men [ep #81 'Field Trip' dir by Christopher Manley] 92-part series, 2007-15; 7th season/HD (ARRI ALEXA), 2014-15

2013

Hindsight [pilot dir by Michael Trim] 10-part series/HD (ARRI ALEXA), 2015; cph pilot (reshoots in 2014) + ph series: Mark Doering-Powell

2014

Extant [ep #1-3 & #6-13 dir by various] 26-part series, 2014-15; 1st season, 2014 (13 ep); other ph: M.G. Wojciechowski (2 ep)

2016

Designated Survivor [pilot dir by Paul McGuigan] series/HD, 2016-present; 1st season, 2016-17 (21 ep)

2016

Westworld [ep dir by various] series/s35, 2016-present; 1st season, 2016 (10 ep); addph; ph: various

2016

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel [pilot dir by Amy Sherman-Palladino] series/HD, 2017-present; for Amazon Studios

2017

Get Shorty [ep dir by ?] series/HD (ARRI ALEXA Mini), 2017-present; other ph: David Franco (pilot) & Attila Szalay; for Epix-tv

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1990

Rumba [Charlie Wiener; short] gaffer; ph: Destiny Itano

1992

The Lion King [Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff] c; anim/89m; EPK (Electronic Press Kit) ph

1994

Toy Story [John Lasseter] c; anim/81m; EPK ph