Whenever a film is released, the first glimpse of the project is almost always shown in the form of photos. These so-called stills are captured on film set during production rollout and are taken by photographers on set. A role that is not theirs, still photographers are responsible for the images that give the public the first impression of a film. Junkyard Theory spoke to Marvel recently Eternals still photographer Sophie Mutevelian.
Sophie had held various other jobs for 10 years after college, before deciding to engage in unit photography. She admitted that she hadn’t studied photography at all; she started doing photography for various jobs until she managed to put together a portfolio, after which she used all her contacts to get jobs. Sophie added that she had cold called everyone and eventually received a reminder from BBC who employed her on her first TV job called Silent witness.
When asked about her working process on set, Sophie revealed that she started by checking the call sheet for a particular production. She then asks to be introduced to the actors so that they are aware of her presence and her work since she will often interact with them. Sophie added that she makes a point of not being in their sights during performances and also not in the way when the cameras start rolling.
When asked how she manages to take photos if she is unable to take photos during a live show, Sophie revealed that in such cases, she would speak to the first assistant director to see if she could step in. before the installation is disassembled and quickly get its images. She added with a laugh that she usually had about 10 seconds to complete this job. Back in the day, before silent mirrorless cameras made it possible to take live photos, Sophie had her Canon camera inside a device that muffled the mechanism so it wouldn’t interfere with the recording. live audio.
Sophie’s job also demands that she be constantly on the lookout for behind-the-scenes photos of the director working with the cast and crew, which usually end up being BTS stills. She said the painful part was not being able to get the shots she knows are mind blowing.
Meet the requirements
Sophie explained that the photography requirements on set may vary depending on the production. If this was a TV production that she had been a part of for a few seasons, she would know what to do and the production would trust her. Others have more specific instructions on what to cover, such as a high-utility stunt, a threesome from the cast, a key moment in the movie, and more.
Sometimes the brief involves her setting up a small studio away from the set and pulling the cast off for pictures that would end up on the posters.
Sophie admits that there is pressure, since there is always only one photographer unit and they become the first link between a film and the audience as it is their photos that provide that first look. through the media. Having been doing the job for over 10 years, Sophie revealed that she now understands what makes a good unit photograph and is more confident now. Despite that, she admitted that being on a huge set like Marvel’s Eternals can be a little intimidating since she was the only unit photographer on set for five months.
At the end of it all, Sophie said that while the film tells a story using multiple shots of moving pictures, it’s her job to do the same with a single frame and that she has become adept at figuring out which moments transmit the best moments.
Advice for future generations
Sophie said that at first, finding work on set was not always easy for her and that she created opportunities, which she encourages anyone who wants to try their hand at photography on set. . Working on low budget productions can provide the opportunity to test skills, understand and learn things on the job, and thus develop skills by doing. She also said that it was very important to understand etiquette as her job involves having to maneuver people a lot.
She shared, “Create opportunities, don’t be afraid. “
Junkyard Theory is Sri Lanka’s first and only film education platform that invites veteran Hollywood filmmakers as guest speakers. Their webinars, hosted by Akash Sunethkumara, have gained recognition on industry sites such as “No Film School”, and the team now runs film classes for aspiring filmmakers across the country.
The full interview is now available on Junkyard Theory’s YouTube channel. Scan the code below to view it now.