By Doug Gritzmacher

Denver Director of Photography & Cinematographer

Area 51

I think we can all agree there are a lot of talking heads in this town and that means shooting interviews is a big chunk of the Washington, DC, cameraman’s work. I am no exception.


Most interviews are usually the same lighting set-up: key light here, back light there, fill over there … after a while you begin to feel like you could set them up with your eyes closed. But yesterday I got to shoot an interview that very much required my eyes be open. It was for a Discovery Channel show on Area 51 and the producers had been shooting their interviews in a much more stylized fashion that was much different from “the usual”.


They showed me a screen grab of a Vladimir Putin interview they used to inspire their look. It looked like an illustration — beautiful, different, and cool. There was no backlight and the background was only subtlety lit. The subject (Putin) was illuminated with a very toppy (”toppy” being a highly technical term) light, heavily flagged off to prevent spill. My task was to try and do something similar for an interview with a lawyer who had sued the government for damages against Area 51 workers. The location was at GW campus and naturally we were given a tiny room with which to work, but I think we still got something pretty close. Either way, I think it looks dang cool and I had a lot of fun lighting it. Shot on an F3 with a Zeiss ZF 50mm prime.

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