Lawrence Sher Breaks Down The Cinematography & Colors In Joker

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I’ve been obsessed with the colors and the cinematography ever since I saw the trailer for Joker (2019):

So, I became curious about the cinematography of Joker and wanted to know more.

The Colors of Joker

That’s when I stumbled upon this amazing video from the popular culture magazine Vanity Fair. In it, Joker cinematographer Lawrence Sher breaks down the use of color and lighting in Joker and some of his other films.

He even goes as far as explaining shooting in LOG to the viewers, most of whom – I assume – aren’t camera geeks.

It’s rare to find such an amazing combination of show and tell. A big thumbs-up also to the video’s lighting team. They do an incredible job of illustrating Sher’s points. The interview is a rare gem!

In addition to an amazing lighting team, Lawrence Sher worked with the colorist Jill Bogdanowicz, who helped shape and enhance the look of Joker, e.g., building LUTs by reverse-engineering film stocks.

Jill Bogdanowicz is an established colorist who has also worked on movies such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Changeling, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and John Wick: Chapter 3.

The Making of Joker

In another video, American Cinematographer Lawrence Sher talks a bit more in-depth about how he became the cinematographer on Joker and his long-time collaboration with director Todd Phillips (notice there’s a Joker 2 announced on his IMDB profile).

In the video, Sher talks about the movie Joker being one of extremes – from big wide shots where Arthur Fleck appears small to extreme photographic close-ups, and how this reflects his relationship with the world and his loneliness.

Also, as some of the scenes were improvised, Lawrence Sher and A-cam operator Geoffrey Haley had to follow Phoenix, which made it important to “light for the spaces and not the faces.”

Sher also goes into his creation of shotdeck for creating a deck of screen grabs as inspiration for a movie. It’s an amazing research tool for helping create the vision of your film.

For example, Sher talks about how he got inspired by a certain low-angle shot from Doctor Strangelove and the odd framing of The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which both influenced certain scenes in Joker.

The End

I enjoyed Joker. It was just as beautiful as I had hoped for.

If you haven’t already, watch the videos and see for yourself. There are many lessons to be learned.

Congrats on the well-deserved Oscar for best actor—his performance as Arthur Fleck, a.k.a. Joker, is outstanding. Congratulations also to Icelandic Hildur Guðnadóttir for her amazing score, which also won an Oscar for best original score.

And, of course, congratulations to cinematographer Lawrence Sher on his nomination for best cinematography. It was really well-deserved, but it was a tough field, with the spectacular cinematography by Roger Deakins for the movie “1917” taking the win.

I can’t wait for Joker 2.

Author

  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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