by Illya Friedman, Cam Noir
The Cinematography Podcast Episode 82: John Brawley
John Brawley began his career shooting television series in his native Australia, coming to the U.S. to shoot the USA series, Queen of the South. John approaches each project with a “visual manifesto,” or a set of rules for yourself and the crew to follow with the camera, lenses, lighting, and color story defining what you’re doing. John’s recent project, The Great, stars Elle Fanning as Catherine The Great and Nicholas Hoult as Peter, the (not great) king of Russia. John worked closely with series creator Tony McNamara, a fellow Aussie who also received an Oscar nod for writing The Favourite. While shooting, John, Tony and the production designer determined that all the light sources be consistently candlelight, daylight, or firelight. Since it was Catherine’s story, she was always in the center of the frame and her close-ups were always just a little closer. The UK is the home of period drama, but Tony McNamara wanted The Great to be “punk history” or satire, taking liberties with the Catherine The Great story, both in costuming and language. He and John also resisted the urge to do period cliché visuals- for example, they did not use any “sweeping” crane shots and avoided using excess smoke for atmosphere.
The Great was just renewed for a second season.
Listen to the podcast here