“MAYANS M.C.” --  "Slow to Bleed Fair Son" -- Season 5, Episode 10 (Airs July 19) Pictured: JD Pardo as EZ Reyes.  CR: Prashant Gupta/FX
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv At the end of “Mayans MC”, looking back at the one change that altered the way it was shot

At the end of “Mayans MC”, looking back at the one change that altered the way it was shot

“MAYANS M.C.” --  "Slow to Bleed Fair Son" -- Season 5, Episode 10 (Airs July 19) Pictured: JD Pardo as EZ Reyes.  CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

FX’s “Mayans MC” is a tough, violent and resolute portrayal of a Southern California motorcycle club fighting a bloody war to protect their turf. Yet it’s also a show full of moments of subtlety and tenderness, where the repercussions of violence for both victim and perpetrator are considered and considered. The balance between the tough and the poignant that characterizes the show has been there from the start, but since Elgin James took over as sole showrunner in Season 3, the show has steadily gotten deeper and more visceral, reaching its artistic pinnacle. in its fifth and fifth seasons. the latest season, which ends on July 19.

One of the main contributors to the evolution of the tone and visual style of the series is cinematographer Vanessa Joy Smith, who was a camera operator for the first two seasons and then moved into the role of cinematographer for the rest of the series. With James, she’s created a look that doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the characters’ lives, but she also treats those characters with an intimacy that is, in her own way, quite beautiful despite the grim subject matter. “For me as a cinematographer, the story always comes first,” Smith told IndieWire. “How are we going to move the camera, Self we’ll move the camera and the targets we choose are all driven by the story.

Related stories

SAG strike deals one (another) hit to TV drop

Arsema Thomas as young Agatha Danbury in

Because Netflix just killed its cheapest ad-free plan

The question of lens choice is paramount when it comes to the leap in visual elegance and emotional impact that “Mayans MC” made in season four. “In Season 4, we changed our lenses and went anamorphic,” Smith said. “He created a new style of shooting, framing and lighting.” The difference may be subliminal to the viewer, but the anamorphic lenses Smith has used for the past two seasons have made the audience’s emotional connection to the characters that much more intense. Part of that comes from the characteristics of Cooke’s own anamorphics, which are flattering to the actors’ features, particularly given the longer focal lengths Smith has gravitated towards. Part of that is because those longer lenses focus the viewer’s eyes on faces, leaving backgrounds and environments out of focus.

“Maya MC”Prashant Gupta/FX

And part of that has to do with practical considerations that have led to changes in Smith’s overall approach; the fact that the anamorphic lenses are much larger, for example, has required some changes to the handheld style of the series. “Ergonomically it changed things because the weight of the camera became much heavier for operators,” Smith said. Not wanting to tire his cameramen, some shots did switch to the dolly, but with the camera loosened in a way that simulated handheld. The result is a slightly more dreamy and elegant quality of camera movement than seen in the first three seasons of “Mayans.”

Because anamorphic lenses require more light than spherical lenses, Smith found she needed to be more focused in her lighting setups. “It wasn’t necessarily about adding more light, but just being more intentional in how we shaped the light,” she said, noting that the filmmakers have also “embraced the dark” in recent seasons. The need to sculpt light and compose frames more precisely has given the last two seasons of “Mayans, MC” a more classic quality that feels appropriate as the characterizations have gotten deeper and the complex betrayals have gotten more dramatic.

1689792898 601 At the end of Mayans MC looking back at the | ManOfTheCenturyMovie
“Maya MC”Prashant Gupta/FX

Ultimately, it’s Smith’s sensitivity to performance that makes “Mayans, MC” such an immersive experience, and it’s something that has been central to his work from the beginning. “I was lucky because I came in as an operator in season one, and when you’re an operator you’re so intimate with the cast,” Smith said. “So I already had a great relationship with them, and Elgin creates a really collaborative environment that includes the cast and crew — they’re not separate. The cast was always included; they could be talking to the trolley jack, anyone.

Actor Clayton Cardenas, who plays Angel, says the kind of communication between actor and cinematographer is vital. “I need to know what kind of target we’re on,” he told IndieWire in an interview conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike. “If we’re in close-up shots, then as an actor, I know I can’t move my head because of focus or have my eyes dart everywhere because it would be distracting. Of course, it’s my job to hit the nail on the head and know where my lighting is, but what are you trying to capture as DP in this shot? What shot did you imagine that made you want to shoot it like this? Having this kind of information is very helpful.”

Cardenas added that one of the pleasures of working on “Mayans MC” was seeing Smith establish herself as a cinematographer. “It was like watching the kid in art school who has all the potential and talent in the world find their own unique lane and strive and thrive in it,” she said. As the show draws to a close, Smith feels the open environment she found in “Mayans” will be hard to replicate. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get it back,” she said. “Every show has its challenges and big moments, but there was something unique about ‘Mayans’ in that we really felt like family. We really took care of each other. And it made the job so much better.

Related Post