The Suicide Squad Cinematographer Henry Braham on the Helmet Shot, Harley Struggle, and Extra

Cinematographer Henry Braham isn’t any stranger to magic. He’s lensed fantastical movies like Nanny McPhee and The Golden Compass and Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. However when it got here to taking pictures James Gunn’s DC debut The Suicide Squad, Braham and the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker wished to mix the fantastical with the actual, leading to a concentrate on “magical realism” for the R-rated Warner Bros. movie. The result’s a superhero film not like any we’ve seen earlier than – it’s unusual and relatable and grotesque and delightful abruptly, with that target magical realism guaranteeing that the characters are compelling irrespective of how odd or outlandish conditions get.

I lately had the pleasure of talking with Braham for an unique interview about his work on The Suicide Squad, which was his second time working with Gunn after the visually beautiful Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Braham talked about what sort of a collaborator Gunn is, and the way and why they stumble on “magical realism” as their guiding power for The Suicide Squad. He additionally talked about placing collectively the opening seashore motion sequence, that beautiful helmet shot within the third act, and the problem of the attractive Harley Quinn struggle sequence. Braham additionally talked a bit about his work on the upcoming The Flash film, which he was in manufacturing on after we spoke, and confirmed that he’ll be reuniting with Gunn later this yr for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Take a look at the complete interview under.

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Collider: You first labored with James on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and I used to be questioning what that have was like for you?

HENRY BRAHAM: Nicely, it was improbable. I imply, the attention-grabbing factor about cinematography is your activity is to translate the director’s character and his visible voice onto the display screen. Usually, that takes an extended course of to actually perceive a director, so that you just discover that voice. People are all sophisticated in communication, however James in fact is a author as nicely, and his writing is so clear that it actually helped alongside the method of speaking what he has in his thoughts. I believed he was fascinating to work with and he has such a transparent voice, and these are two very totally different motion pictures that you just noticed. I feel that is much more attention-grabbing, as a result of Guardians had its personal fashion. I feel having gone by means of that have of doing a film collectively, you begin from a special place. You actually profit from that have, so definitely for me, it was an enormous assist as a result of though you begin with a clear sheet of paper and say, “Okay, I wish to see the thought we’re engaged on,” you have already got a dialogue and an understanding of what is behind the conversations you will have.

Picture through Warner Bros.

As you stated, they’re two very totally different movies. When James first approached you about taking pictures The Suicide Squad, what have been these early conversations like? What have been form of the visible touchstones he wished to hit?

BRAHAM: Nicely, he did a really, very clear description of it for all of us on his imaginative and prescient, which firstly was type of based mostly across the style of traditional warfare capers like The place Eagles Dare and The Soiled Dozen and so forth, which in fact are improbable motion pictures. Thus, I feel The Suicide Squad appealed to all generations. It appeals to a up to date era in addition to a a lot older era who’d like these form of motion pictures. On the identical time, since you’re coping with the fantastical, he was in search of this world of magical realism. Magical realism is basically about discovering the extraordinary throughout the atypical. The atypical needs to be completely plausible. That was the beginning place, however then in fact you say, “Okay, nicely, what’s atypical and what does that imply by way of, clearly the setting, but in addition what does that imply by way of how we {photograph} this?” That took lots of work, lots of work in determining what we already meant by atypical. He’d been to Cuba, and that was his start line for the world.

We have been nonetheless discussing this after we all went to scout Panama, and I feel seeing the slums in Panama, in addition to the form of patina of the buildings and stuff form of cemented the thought by way of what he was going to place in entrance of the digital camera, and it additionally cemented the concept that colour was our pal right here. I feel there is a tendency in superhero motion pictures — which I do not actually consider this as a superhero film, to be sincere — I feel there is a tendency that individuals are scared of colour, and typically they revert to form of extra conventional use of sunshine and shade, or chiaroscuro, which it was known as in portray. I am at all times involved in mixing colour and mixing colour and light-weight, as a result of I feel that is what occurs in life. It is all these issues coming collectively, mainly.

Then there was additionally, how does the digital camera transfer? What’s the fashion there? We checked out lots of issues, and so we wished to develop a method that was immersive, very lively, however it did not draw consideration to itself. In the event you return to the thought of what’s atypical, I might say atypical are issues that do not draw consideration to themselves, and that was positively the thought about how we shot it.

I feel the movie actually begins with this excellent mission assertion, which is that opening seashore sequence, which I feel blends what you are speaking about, that magical realism, since you’re form of methodically, very patiently waded into this sequence by your introduction to the characters, after which all hell breaks unfastened and you’ve got this insanity going off all over the place. I used to be questioning what it was prefer to shoot and put collectively that sequence, as a result of I consider you guys constructed that on a sound stage, right?

Picture through Warner Bros.

BRAHAM: Yeah, the seashore was an enormous set with sensible waves and water and every thing on the backlot in Pinewood. That was shot over I neglect what number of weeks of nights, however James’ course of is that he has very particular sequences in thoughts, and he writes to music, and he writes both the music into the script, or if it is scored, he will get it scored earlier than. We fairly often shoot sequences to stay music, to playback. It actually works, as a result of a few of these are very balletic, and from my standpoint, it actually helps with the rhythm of how the digital camera strikes and so forth. James could be very, very clear in his alternative of music, so that may be the important thing to unlocking all kinds of issues about how the scene is likely to be proven. It was occurring for actual, and people explosions have been for actual, and he would give me lots of freedom by way of the rhythm of shifting from one factor to a different factor. James could be very clear about his storytelling intent, in order that readability permits lots of freedom to work inside that. It was lots of enjoyable to shoot. What’s to not like about blowing stuff up?

One other scene I actually wished to ask you about is the one that everybody’s speaking about, which is Harley Quinn’s massive motion sequence. How did you guys go about placing that collectively?

BRAHAM: Aside from the animation, most of that stuff is actual. So I might say that scene is a very improbable instance of nice collaboration between each self-discipline on the film. James did map out these within the script and clearly he describes how he sees the development of the factor, after which Man Norris, who’s the stunt coordinator, would work out the beats and the struggle and the development. The intelligent bit was, what James and Man would then do was work with Margot, and Margot has spectacular focus and focus and she or he could be very bodily. She’s extraordinary. She actually places the work in, in order that’s improbable, as a result of you may {photograph} her doing the stuff for actual and you’ll present that it is her doing it and never a stunt performer the place the close-ups are with the actor. That is Margot doing all these items, in order that’s a dream from my standpoint as a result of we will actually present that it is Margot doing it.

Then, going again to the purpose I made earlier, James at all times wrote this to the piece of music he had in thoughts. That piece of music is what we shot it to. I neglect what number of days it took to shoot, however truly not lengthy. We shot with that music taking part in again, so it is like a dance, and that rhythm of performing to that and having the ability to shoot to that, so the choreography of the digital camera might tie in with all these issues, signifies that you are all working actually to the identical beat. From a design standpoint, it really works. From an motion standpoint, it really works. But it surely all essentially comes down to actually understanding what the thought is earlier than you go into taking pictures it. Then in fact you will have the liberty to work inside that. I feel that is what James is especially good at, is he’ll actually work the concepts by means of so we will have the liberty to play with it after we come to shoot it. It wasn’t a sequence that took lengthy to shoot, as a result of it was so nicely choreographed.

Picture through Warner Bros.

Was there one scene or sequence that was probably the most difficult to execute or put collectively?

BRAHAM: That was bodily very troublesome to execute, as a result of the timing of the digital camera shifting in sync with Margot was very strategic, however equally, there is a scene within the jungle with Idris and John Cena, the place they’re form of displaying off to one another who can do the worst injury. There’s a very particularly timed choreographed transfer that, once more, the fashion of taking pictures the film was to be there and nearly shoot it like a documentary. I am not organising pictures the place they march into the shot after which transfer on. I am with them, telling the story from James’ perspective, and simply getting the timing of these issues takes lots of focus, and being in sync with one another. Likewise, the struggle with Flag and Peacemaker on the finish.

Oh yeah, with the reflection within the helmet. That was nice.

BRAHAM: Yeah. Nicely, I imply, that is a really form of sophisticated shot. You have got these key issues that are core concepts, however then round that, there’s lots of freedom. That is nice, as a result of you recognize precisely what he is in search of in a scene, and what his intent is. What a enjoyable approach of displaying one thing. It is a pleasure to do it. All this stuff, it comes again to, sure these are fantastical fights and all that, however the ordinariness of them wants to come back by means of as nicely. I feel that is why they work. It is as a result of they’re plausible they usually’re truthful, although the entire thing is fantastical.

Nicely, and so many different superhero motion pictures these days, you are primarily watching an animated film when you get to the third act. It is only a bunch of CG variations of the heroes flying round and stuff, so there’s one thing to that form of nitty-gritty-ness on this movie that I feel makes it much more impactful.

BRAHAM: Nicely, that and also you’re doing it for actual, as a result of the problem with the CG world is, nonetheless disciplined you’re, the viewers is aware of which you could push a button and do this stuff, and subsequently they lose any emotional contact with the factor. I feel that was nearly the highest of James’ record of, in his course, was to do as a lot virtually as attainable. An enormous variety of units have been constructed, and a few fairly large units have been constructed for this, and there have been some nice areas in Panama. The doing it for actual makes a giant distinction. That is indisputably, and if you are able to do it for actual with performers who can carry out this stuff, that is even higher. I feel that comes by means of. Look, I preserve going again to the viewers and saying, in some methods, the thought is you are making a documentary on IMAX, and also you would possibly assume is a whole contradiction. That was the thought, was to have this contradiction between the atypical and one thing extraordinary. It truly is a film that’s value going to IMAX to see in IMAX.

Picture through Warner Bros.

Nicely, I wished to ask concerning the digital camera alternative. Was this shot completely on IMAX cameras?

BRAHAM: It was shot on cameras I developed with the fellows at RED, initially for Guardians, with James. Then it is a format known as VistaVision, RED VistaVision, which is the right IMAX digital camera. What pursuits me is the cameras being so small, as a result of it means I can do all kinds of issues with them, and put them in amongst … Actually, proper within the middle of the story, so the entire thing is counterintuitive, since you consider IMAX as a large nice massive digital camera, and naturally the movie cameras was. I used to try this period of stuff in IMAX, when the cameras have been huge, however the inertia of the digital camera is inconceivable to navigate. There isn’t a approach you would shoot this film on an IMAX movie digital camera, however the RED cameras that are IMAX, they’re excellent cameras for IMAX, there is not any doubt about it. They permit you to do something you need. I imply, actually something you need.

I do know you’re additionally proper now engaged on The Flash, which I am actually enthusiastic about. I used to be simply curious how issues have been happening that one.

BRAHM; Nicely, they are going nice. I imply, it is a complicated film, and it is a improbable idea of bringing within the generations of those form of comedian books. Once more, it is not likely a comic book guide film. It is not based mostly in actuality, however it’s a way more form of technically complicated — I feel all of the filmmakers are actually eager that the technical complexity of the storytelling would not get in the way in which of simply good high quality filmmaking. Hopefully, I do not assume it will ever come throughout as a superhero film. It is going to come throughout as a film, and that is what it’s.

That is thrilling.

BRAHAM: I feel that is the way in which this stuff have to go. We should be making nice, nice, nice movies that occur to have superheroes who’ve truthful characters behind them, with all of the character flaws that we discover in humanity. That is the fantastic thing about James’ writing, not to mention his directing, is the failings and the humanity of all his characters.

If The Suicide Squad was influenced by form of the warfare caper motion pictures, how would you describe form of the tone or the vibe of The Flash?

BRAHAM: Oh, you may have to attend for that.

That is truthful.

BRAHAM: We’re nonetheless proper right here.


I used to be curious as a result of Michael Keaton stated the opposite day he was simply form of wowed, and he stated that the movie was form of paying homage to Tim Burton’s movies. I used to be simply curious what it has been like for you as a cinematographer, to simply play in these totally different playgrounds.

BRAHAM: Nicely, A, it is a pleasure working with the forged, as they’re improbable. Michael, in fact, is a genius, and it is fantastic to see him recreate that position however within the current day. It’s fantastic. I feel the film has a large scope, and I am fortunate to have the ability to work on motion pictures I would prefer to go and see. I am not likely involved in comedian guide motion pictures. I am involved in motion pictures that take me on a journey, an emotional journey and a visible journey. Yeah.

Nicely, that being stated, your title character there has to run sooner than the velocity of sunshine. Has that been difficult technically, to make that cinematic or to carry that to life?

BRAHAM: Nicely, I feel it may be lovely, and it may be emotional. On the one hand, you will have the form of technical factor of when, what, and the way. But it surely’s like all filmmaking, it is about type determining an thought in order that you do not actually give it some thought. You do not assume, “Oh.” It turns into a pure a part of the storytelling, so yeah. It’s pretty gratifying, and enjoyable to do.

Nicely, I am unable to wait to see that. After that one, are you reuniting with James on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

BRAHAM: I’m, yeah. We’re speaking about that.

That is thrilling.

BRAHAM: Sure, and it will be one other journey.

KEEP READING: Michael Keaton Describes the First Shot of Batman in ‘The Flash’: “Whoa. This Is Large.”

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