DP Matthias Grunsky, BVK on RESULTS

Jul 1, 2015

Article and photos from ARRI Group. Find the original article at http://www.arri.com/news/news/dp-matthias-grunsky-bvk-on-results/.
Photo: Ryan Green

Matthias Grunsky, BVK on RESULTS

RESULTS is a comedy starring Kevin Corrigan as a recent divorcé inspired to get in shape and head to the gym. There, he meets two personal trainers (played by Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders) who try to help him improve his life while they flounder at their own. Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski (COMPUTER CHESS, FUNNY HA HA), RESULTS won the 2014 Film Independent ARRI Feature Film Grant, allowing  the quirky, independent film to shoot ALEXA.

Director of photography Matthias Grunsky, BVK was already familiar with the camera. “The ALEXA is my first choice in digital cinema,” he says. “It’s latitude and the way it renders colors stand undefeated in my eyes between all the digital cameras I have used or tested so far. Especially on a lower budget with bigger time constraints reliability is a very important factor, which the ALEXA has proven to have on my projects in the last years.”

Shot in Texas, RESULTS was serviced by MPS Camera in Austin with grip, electric and lenses. Production had a number of challenges including a low budget, small crew and the summer heat. Says Bujalski, “Indie filmmaking is always an adventure – not a day passes without some stomach-churning crisis dropped in our path or some exhilarating solution lifting us past it — but it’s been a consistent delight to have it all pass through the ALEXA, which reliably turns all the pleasures and pains into beautiful images.”

RESULTS premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and is now playing in select U.S. theaters and on demand. In this interview, we talked to Grunsky about working with Bujalski and his experiences on RESULTS.

What drew you to this project?

RESULTS is my fifth collaboration with writer/director Andrew Bujalski. In 2001 I shot his first movie FUNNY HA HA and I feel we have been on an exciting and diverse journey through all his films together since then. RESULTS was yet another step in another new direction regarding story and style. I was once again surprised reading Andrew’s script, finding a lot of new challenges and opportunities in it. One of the things I love about Andrew’s stories and how he wants to tell them is his interest in the awkardness between people — which we all know so well and face everyday, but rarely want to look at closely. Although RESULTS is probably a more comedic film than all his prior ones, it still has a lot of weird, awkward moments, which are great to play with visually.

What kind of discussions did you have with Andrew early on about the film’s look and feel?

We shot on the ARRI ALEXA in Log C. RESULTS is set in a very crisp and colorful world, but Andrew and I wanted to resist that with a somewhat flat, desaturated, not-too-sharp image. While our production designer Michael Bricker and our costume designer Colin Wilkes created this crisp and colorful world for the characters in front of the camera, — which is trying to tell us that it is perfect — we captured it with lenses that are neither perfect nor state-of-the-art and graded it in a more desaturated and flat way. This seems to contradict this on the surface perfection. It is a symbol for the characters, who want to improve themselves, trying to be perfect by getting in shape and to get things right, but then ending up doing so much wrong and not being perfect at all.

Why was ALEXA the right camera for the project?

The ALEXA is always my preferred camera in digital cinema. I love how straightforward it is made for cinematographers, the way it renders colors and contrast, and it’s very pleasant, smooth image quality.

I am very grateful to ARRI for helping us by donating the camera package through the ARRI Film Independent Feature Film Grant.

How was your experience working with MPS Camera out of Austin?

The team at MPS Camera was very helpful to us during the whole project. They provided all G&E equipment and camera accessories. I shot lighting and lens tests and the general look had been established in pre-production with the equipment of MPS.

There are a few running shots in the film. How did you move the camera?

Parts I was shooting handheld from a golf cart and on others we used Steadicam.

Kevin Corrigan’s house seems like it may have been challenging to frame shots in there. What kind of considerations did you need to make?

Danny’s (played by Kevin Corrigan) empty house was a nice challenge. Although the characters are attracted to each other they have difficulties getting together and communicating. We tried to emphasize that with the camera, especially in Danny’s house. Void spaces around them and lens choices were something we gave a lot of thought in that regard.

Is there a scene that you are especially happy with how it came out?

In the end I am very happy with the night scenes in which Trevor (Guy Pearce) goes on a trip to Marfa and is followed by Kat (Cobie Smulders). We could only bring a reduced crew there and the rain was holding us up. But difficulties and limits can sometimes help to create something special and those scenes in Marfa are some of my favorite ones in sense of mood, intensity and light.

What is next for you?

Right now I am working on a movie in Texas called THE HONOR FARM directed by Karen Skloss. Most of the story takes place at night in the woods, which is challenging on a small budget. I will be shooting on an ARRI ALEXA again with the ARRI/ZEISS Master Primes.