‘Silence’ Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto to Make Directorial Debut

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who was nominated for an Oscar for shooting Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” will make his directorial debut with the revenge-thriller “Bastard.” “La La Land’s” Jordan Horowitz is producing through his Original Headquarters company. Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff of Sikelia Prods. are executive producing. Topic, First Look Media’s entertainment studio, is financing. Prieto… Read more »

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who was nominated for an Oscar for shooting Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” will make his directorial debut with the revenge-thriller “Bastard.” “La La Land’s” Jordan Horowitz is producing through his Original Headquarters company. Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff of Sikelia Prods. are executive producing. Topic, First Look Media’s entertainment studio, is financing. Prieto... Read more »

‘Silence’ Featurette: Martin Scorsese and Rodrigo Prieto on the Religious Drama’s Arresting Visuals (Exclusive)

Scorsese calls his director of photography “a wonderful artist.”

Though much more restrained than its predecessor, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” is just as visually arresting. That’s thanks in large part to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who shot both films in addition to a slew of other recent high-profile movies: “Passengers,” “Argo,” “Brokeback Mountain.” Avail yourself of a video detailing the director of photography’s process on the religious drama below.

READ MORE: How Martin Scorsese’s Passion of the ‘Silence’ Relies on Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto

“Marty has a very specific vision of the way he wants to shoot the movie,” Prieto explains over behind-the-scenes footage of the film. “He is also very open to collaboration.” Scorsese then chimes in, noting that this the third time he’s worked with Prieto, a “wonderful artist” whose lighting he deems “subtle and sensitive.” The two also touch on their efforts to strike a balance between spirituality and suspense and the ways in which the Japanese landscape played into the shoot.

READ MORE: ‘Silence’ Review: Martin Scorsese Delivers a Gorgeous Crisis-of-Faith Drama

“Silence” opened in limited release over the Christmas holiday and is set to expand this Friday, January 6.

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How Martin Scorsese’s Passion of the ‘Silence’ Relies on Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto

The Mexican cinematographer used fog and fire and shot mostly on film to capture religious wars in feudal Japan in “Silence.”

Nature played a major role in “Silence,” the movie about the crisis of faith stemming from the persecution of Christians in 17th century Japan, from director Martin Scorsese.

He and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto shot on 35mm film (except for more complicated night scenes) and used the unpredictable weather to their advantage.

““We both agreed immediately that ‘Silence’ needed to be on film [shot in Taiwan with the Arricam LT] and, from my perspective, it’s because of color depth,” Prieto told IndieWire. “And this is a movie that’s very much about nature and these priests in Japan surrounded by the foliage. And a big part of the movie is how that sounds, how that feels, the presence or absence of God in this natural environment.”

Also, because so much of “Silence” is about hiding, there were many discussions about incorporating the theme into the overall aesthetic, which alternates between warm and harsh.

“A lot of the hiding was nighttime, but, also from a technical standpoint, where it was impossible to access without lighting gear to create moonlight,” Prietio said. “Some of the scenes we shot at dusk and when they had torches it looked bright enough. But scenes on the beach were shot day for night. And weather often dictated the look. For example, when [Jesuit priests] Rodrigues [Andrew Garfield] and Garrpe [Adam Driver] arrive in Japan and see the island from a distance, I lit that with a sunset feel.

“Silence”

“But then when they actually arrive on the beach, the intention was to shoot it day for night. But we were fogged in and we decided to use the fog as the element that’s hiding them and color-timed it cold and dark. Later on, they go into a cave and that becomes night.  I also used fire as a light source with other techniques to convey the image of hell in Rodrigues’ mind.”

Fog, too, was used more as a mysterious element when Garfield travels on a small boat from Tomogi, in mainland Japan, to the island of Goto. And when Garfield arrives, Scorsese wanted the image of villagers appearing through the fog as frightening figures, which was shot with real fog.

However, when Garfield’s in a boat and the fog creeps like fingers clutching the boat, Scorsese and Prieto recreated the eerie look from Kenji Mizoguchi’s landmark romantic fantasy, “Ugetsu” (1953).

“They achieved amazing fog (either with a machine or dry ice),” added Prieto. But we shot the scene at night in the same tank that Ang Lee shot ‘Life of Pi.’ We created a moonlight source, did our best with fog machines and used VFX enhancement to get that ‘Ugetsu’ look.”

“Silence”

Prieto was also inspired by baroque painters of the period, especially for candlelit scenes in the huts and in a Macao church. But as the movie progresses, he used different imagery influenced by Japanese screen art during this same Edo period, with the color timing taking on a golden hue.

For instance, when Garfield visits the scene-stealing Issey Ogata as Inoue Masashige, the quirky and witty persecutor of Japanese Christians, Scorsese wanted it to feel like a delicate, bluish sunset. “In profile shots of Inoue, behind him we projected shadows of the tree branches with the light. This emulates the screen art,” Prieto said. “But we had to shoot this at night to maintain continuity for this eight-page scene.”

Interestingly, Ogata, the accomplished actor/comedian, improvised all of his humorous ticks and antics to the delight of Scorsese. “As the antagonist, he’s full of contradictions in his performance,” Prieto added. “And from every angle he would do it the same way.”

But Scorsese enhanced the tense reunion in Japan between Rodrigues and his mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) by separating the actors until they shot the scene. “This also takes place at sunset, shot at night on the backlot of a studio, with a crane strobe light,” Prieto said.

The mixing of aesthetics with ideology in “Silence” — a 30-year passion project for Scorsese — was also extremely personal for Prieto. “I’m from Mexico and aware of when the Spanish came to conquer it, so this is important in terms of colonization and imposition of beliefs and all these things are happening still. It’s a movie about the 17th century and everything resonates in my heart and in today’s society,” he said.

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Martin Scorsese Gets Standing Ovation at First LA ‘Silence’ Screening

Martin Scorsese got a hero’s welcome on Sunday at the first public L.A. screening for his new film “Silence,” starring Andrew Garfield as a Jesuit priest in 17th-century Japan.

The crowd of nearly 700 gave the director and co-writer a standing ovation at the Westwood Village theater, bolstering the growing impression that the historical drama will be a major awards contender.

The capacity audience included studio guests, press and Academy members, who seemed to welcome the maestro’s latest as an unusually contemplative work that continues his long cinematic grappling with his Roman Catholic faith.

Also Read: Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Trailer Sends Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver on a Secret Mission (Video)

“My own concern with religion and with faith particularly somehow changed over the years, through many different films too,” the director told moderator and fellow filmmaker James Gray during a lively Q&A following the screening. “This film enabled me to not only think about [my faith] but work it.”

In fact, Scorsese has worked off and on for 28 years to bring Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel to the screen. And while reviews are embargoed until closer to the film’s December 23 release date, it’s safe to say that his efforts look to play a significant factor in the awards race this season.

In addition to being a contender for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, for which Scorsese shares credit with Jay Cocks, at least two performances stand out: Garfield’s lead role as a Jesuit priest whose faith is tested under the increasingly violent persecution of Christian clergy and followers by the emperor’s Inquisitor — and veteran Japanese actor Issey Ogata as the inquisitor himself.

Also Read: ‘Moonlight’ Named Best Picture by Los Angeles Film Critics

“Marty would always say, ‘That’s great, excellent, now one more,” Ogata told the crowd through an interpreter, to much familiar laughter. (The actor, first spotted by Scorsese for his work in Alexandr Sokurov’s 2005 film “The Sun,” was named runner-up for Best Supporting Actor on Sunday by the L.A. Film Critics Association.)

Scorsese said that Ogata had already brought much of the character’s onscreen movements to the audition: “Using the fans, swatting the flies, the dust in his mouth, the moment he decides to deflate — we all looked at each other and said, ‘OK.’”

Garfield also had high praise for his co-star’s work. “It was like a sitting in a room with a snake charmer, and you were the snake and also the person about to be eaten,” the British actor said.

In addition, you can expect Paramount Pictures to make an awards push for Rodrigo Prieto’s lush cinematography, Dante Ferretti’s period-perfect production and costume design and Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing.

“Marty has always been extremely daring. He’ll try anything,” Schoonmaker told the crowd.

Also Read: ‘American Honey’ Tops British Independent Film Awards

“Some of these effects are out of necessity,” Scorsese admitted, noting a dialgoue-free scene in “Raging Bull” where they didn’t have enough coverage and a pool scene in “Wolf of Wall Street” where they sped up the middle of a right-to-left pan because “the shot was taking just a little too long.”

Scorsese also shared details of his recent visit to the Vatican, where he screened “Silence” in a chapel (“the screen wasn’t very big but the entire film played under this very big crucifix,” he said) and had a personal meeting with Pope Francis.

“Meeting with the pope was an early morning — it was 9 o’clock. I’m a new Yorker,” he said to laughter. “We were given very strict protocol … but he was most disarming. I told him that Andrew had gone through the 30 days of spiritual exercises of the Jesuits. And the next thing for Andrew was to be ordained. But that instead he got me. And he laughed. It was quite moving.”

Pope Francis had read Endo’s novel, Scorsese said, adding that the pontiff told him, “I hope the story of the film bears much fruit.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Trailer Sends Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver on a Secret Mission (Video)

‘Moonlight’ Named Best Picture by Los Angeles Film Critics

New York Film Critics 2016 Winners: ‘La La Land’ Named Best Film

Martin Scorsese got a hero’s welcome on Sunday at the first public L.A. screening for his new film “Silence,” starring Andrew Garfield as a Jesuit priest in 17th-century Japan.

The crowd of nearly 700 gave the director and co-writer a standing ovation at the Westwood Village theater, bolstering the growing impression that the historical drama will be a major awards contender.

The capacity audience included studio guests, press and Academy members, who seemed to welcome the maestro’s latest as an unusually contemplative work that continues his long cinematic grappling with his Roman Catholic faith.

“My own concern with religion and with faith particularly somehow changed over the years, through many different films too,” the director told moderator and fellow filmmaker James Gray during a lively Q&A following the screening. “This film enabled me to not only think about [my faith] but work it.”

In fact, Scorsese has worked off and on for 28 years to bring Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel to the screen. And while reviews are embargoed until closer to the film’s December 23 release date, it’s safe to say that his efforts look to play a significant factor in the awards race this season.

In addition to being a contender for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, for which Scorsese shares credit with Jay Cocks, at least two performances stand out: Garfield’s lead role as a Jesuit priest whose faith is tested under the increasingly violent persecution of Christian clergy and followers by the emperor’s Inquisitor — and veteran Japanese actor Issey Ogata as the inquisitor himself.

“Marty would always say, ‘That’s great, excellent, now one more,” Ogata told the crowd through an interpreter, to much familiar laughter. (The actor, first spotted by Scorsese for his work in Alexandr Sokurov’s 2005 film “The Sun,” was named runner-up for Best Supporting Actor on Sunday by the L.A. Film Critics Association.)

Scorsese said that Ogata had already brought much of the character’s onscreen movements to the audition: “Using the fans, swatting the flies, the dust in his mouth, the moment he decides to deflate — we all looked at each other and said, ‘OK.'”

Garfield also had high praise for his co-star’s work. “It was like a sitting in a room with a snake charmer, and you were the snake and also the person about to be eaten,” the British actor said.

In addition, you can expect Paramount Pictures to make an awards push for Rodrigo Prieto’s lush cinematography, Dante Ferretti’s period-perfect production and costume design and Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing.

“Marty has always been extremely daring. He’ll try anything,” Schoonmaker told the crowd.

“Some of these effects are out of necessity,” Scorsese admitted, noting a dialgoue-free scene in “Raging Bull” where they didn’t have enough coverage and a pool scene in “Wolf of Wall Street” where they sped up the middle of a right-to-left pan because “the shot was taking just a little too long.”

Scorsese also shared details of his recent visit to the Vatican, where he screened “Silence” in a chapel (“the screen wasn’t very big but the entire film played under this very big crucifix,” he said) and had a personal meeting with Pope Francis.

“Meeting with the pope was an early morning — it was 9 o’clock. I’m a new Yorker,” he said to laughter. “We were given very strict protocol … but he was most disarming. I told him that Andrew had gone through the 30 days of spiritual exercises of the Jesuits. And the next thing for Andrew was to be ordained. But that instead he got me. And he laughed. It was quite moving.”

Pope Francis had read Endo’s novel, Scorsese said, adding that the pontiff told him, “I hope the story of the film bears much fruit.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' Trailer Sends Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver on a Secret Mission (Video)

'Moonlight' Named Best Picture by Los Angeles Film Critics

New York Film Critics 2016 Winners: 'La La Land' Named Best Film