Date : 1st Of November 2020
Continuing with our efforts to gain insights through our Interviews, we contacted Daniel Stoloff who is a Cinematographer and have had the pleasure of shooting Jack Ryan, Ray Donovan and more recently The Boys.
Some factual information on Dan Stoloff would find you that, he is an American cinematographer of American television series.
He is best known for his performance as a cinematographer in miracle, suits and tumbleweeds. Aside of his successful career as a cinematographer, he starred in a movie Deep Dark Canyon and also in few commercials like victoria’s secret, usa network. Daniel Stoloff took time out of his busy schedule and as a result we were able to conduct this Interview.
Greetings Mr. Stoloff, we at The Movie Culture are thrilled to have you. We certainly hope that during times like these you and your family are doing well.
Q. To start this interview we have to ask you about The Boys, do tell us about how you first got involved with it and your experience on the series?
Dan Stoloff : I got involved with “The Boys” as so often happens, by a recommendation from a producer to the show runner. In this case it was Chris Long, with whom I worked with on “The Americans”. “The Boys” was a wonderful and challenging experience. It’s a big, rambunctious show, every day filled with action, effects and emotion. My favorite aspect of the show is the collaborative environment created by Eric Kripke. In prep we have the opportunity to spitball ideas with the directors, writers and art department. This gives the creative team a sense of ownership in the show. That always makes going to work a joy and a challenge.
Q. The Boys is very dark in terms of story line and also by it’s looks and given you have shot it, could you tell us the reason behind that Choice?
Dan Stoloff : I think the darkness of the show is reflective of the darkness of the world we have created. Many of these characters are driven by greed, jealousy, pride and all the darker elements of human nature. We try to reflect the evil we see in the world in which we all live into the exaggerated world of “The boys”. As extreme as our take is, it is reflecting greater truths.
Q. Given The Boys has its fair share of VFX as a Cinematographer how do you work with that technicality?
Dan Stoloff : Shout out to Stefan Fleet our VFX supervisor. We approach the effects together as a team beginning early in the prep process. We test extensively prior to shooting so everything has been figured out and agreed upon ahead of time. Its a lot of meetings but ultimately the investment in prep pays off by being able to pull of a combination of spfx vfx and lighting.
Q. You have had a long career in directing Comedies, how does a Cinematographer such as yourself tackles with putting a camera at such an Angle that’ll make people laugh?
Dan Stoloff : I don’t think there is one answer to that question. I think it depends on the circumstance. Sometimes what you don’t show on camera can be as important as what you do see. As far as comedy goes I think the cutting of the scene is what generates the laugh more so than camera placement.
Q. We couldn’t help but notice you are involved with Jack Ryan, Amazing Stories and The Boys. How can one be involved with so many high profile shows?
Dan Stoloff : I think I’ve been incredibly lucky. It’s a bit of a chain reaction. If the people you meet and click with succeed, and your relationships are solid, they bring you with them!
Q. What is your approach to shooting a film? How do you figure out Lighting and are you strong on pre-visualization?
Dan Stoloff : Yes and no. I do previsualize to the extent that I read a script as though I am watching a film. I get a general impression of what a scene’s function is in moving a story forward and what the color and atmosphere of that scene should be. Once I start to get a feel for the location that changes to accommodate whatever opportunities that location offers. Its an evolution that ends on shoot day. Sometimes its a match to my initial impression, sometimes it changes 180 degrees. You must be prepared with the idea in your mind, but be open to changing on a dime. My idea of a scene often changes as we are blocking with actors. The colors they put into a scene is the final and most important ingredient.
Q. Is there a favourite Director you are yet to work with?
Dan Stoloff : Martin Scorsese
Q. Do you yourself wonder about Directing, what’s the key difference between a Cinematographer and A Director according to you?
Dan Stoloff : For now I am content and challenged by the position of dp. Though I think directing would be fun, if I’m honest with myself, my skill set is better suited to cinematography.
Q. You at this point in your career seem to be doing great (we mean it) what is your approach going ahead is it more Mainstream or Indie Fare? What is your preference?
Dan Stoloff : I think distribution is the challenge. I enjoy television because I know what I am doing will be seen. There is also a certainty in that when a project is greenlit it goes forward. My experience in the indie world involved a lot of heartbreak. You put a lot of time and energy into something that may just disappear. I prefer the long form of episodic because a show evolves over time, it gives the opportunity to develop a look that can change as characters and story change.
Q. You are also a great still photographer, do you find difference in shooting a video and in shooting a still?
Dan Stoloff : At its core they are similar. Framing is framing. My still work helps keep my eye working when I’m not shooting.
Q. If we may, we wanted to segway into Fan Service by asking; how was it like working on The Boys do you have snippets for Season 3?
Dan Stoloff : We start shooting season 3 in february 2021, so no snippets yet.
Q. As a Cinematographer do you prefer shooting a movie or a series? Which is more convenient?
Dan Stoloff : Not sure what you mean by convenient. Neither are terribly convenient. I do love both but television offers me the opportunity to grow a story and explore over time.
Q. Every Cinematographer has raised their opinion on the whole Film VS Digital argument, where do you fall on that spectrum?
Dan Stoloff : Once I went digital, which was early in the transition, I was sold. I’ve always been a big digi cheerleader.
Q. We couldn’t help but notice you were in front of camera for Deep Dark Canyon, do you want to have an acting career on the side?
Dan Stoloff : Nope. I did that to see what it was like on the other side of the camera and never need to do it again. I gave me even more respect for actors. What they do is nothing short of magic.
Q. Speaking of Cinematography, in your days as an aspiring Cinematographer is there anyone who you looked up to as an idol? Was there a favourite movie which you saw and that made you fell in love with the artform?
Dan Stoloff : I have always been inspired by the work and approach of Roger Deakins. Before Roger it was cameramen like Sven Nykvist, Nestor Almendros and Owen Roizmen. Im drawn to the naturalists.
Q. The Movie Culture is situated in India and we being fans of your work, we’d like to know whether you are aware of Bollywood? If yes, is there an actor you admire or a film?
Dan Stoloff : Sadly my knowledge of Bollywood is limited. Always looking for suggestions though!
Q. You have a background in Commercials, how is shooting a film different to that?
Dan Stoloff : In my commercial experience we were always striving for an aspirational world. Lighting for beauty and perfection. In a film you light for the story. Sometimes its dark, ugly gritty, other times its beauty.
Q. We hope you are doing well in this Pandemic, and we have to ask is there a binge watch party you have done with your family or friends? If yes, which show or movie Franchise?
Dan Stoloff : Yes, I loved Fauda, Money Heist, Happy Valley, and Turn
Q. Do you have any future projects lined up which you’d like to share with us and your fans?
Dan Stoloff : I am currently shooting a pilot for HBO max about Julia Child’s early TV career. Its fun to do early 60’s period and a welcome change of pace from “The Boys”. In January I will return the “The Boys” season 3.
Q. Being a great Cinematographer such as yourself, is there a key advice which you give to people trying to make it big? Given the vast competition in the media field, how does one cope with rejection, any words?
Dan Stoloff : Its not as easy as it sounds but dont take rejection personally. There are a million reasons why a director may hire someone else. Dont give up. Every time on set is an opportunity to do your best work and be your best self. Be nice to everyone!!! And always be early..
With this we would like to wrap up with the interview questions. The Movie Culture would indeed like to thank Mr. Stoloff for agreeing to this wonderful interview.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
We’d like to take a moment and thank Mr. Dan Stoloff for his time and letting us know about the insides of Movie Making.
We hope that the questions were able to help young upcoming artists know certain things that generally isn’t available 24/7 to them.
Dan Stoloff is gearing up for shooting The Boys Season 3 but as he does why not already check The Boys on Amazon Prime Video and our review for it.