IFH 502: Lighting the Biggest Films of All-Time with Dean Cundey A.S.C

1:12:55
 
Share
 

Manage episode 302792937 series 2482463
By Alex Ferrari. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Today, my guest is a prolific cinematographer, accomplished photographer, and member of the American Society of Cinematographers, Dean Cundey.
Dean rose to fame for extraordinary cinematography in the 1980s and 1990s. His early start was working on the set of Halloween. Dean is credited as director of photography on five Back To The Future films and Jurassic Park.
The Halloween slasher franchise consisted of eleven films and was initially released in 1978. The films primarily focus on Michael Myers, who was committed to a sanitarium as a child for the murder of his sister, Judith Myers. Fifteen years later, he escapes to stalk and kill the people of the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Michael's killings occur on the holiday of Halloween, on which all of the films primarily take place.
The second film, one of which Cundey served as director of photography, was based on Marty McFly, who had only just gotten back from the past when he is once again picked up by Dr. Emmett Brown and sent through time to the future. Marty's job in the future is to pose as his son to prevent him from being thrown in prison. Unfortunately, things get worse when the future changes the present.
The three Back To The Future films Dean worked on grossed $388.8, $336, and $243 million globally, becoming all-time hits on budgets of $19, $40, and $40 million.
Cundey is cited as being amongst some of the best directors of photography. In addition to his lighting skills, particularly in the famous hallway scene where the hidden face of Michael Myers is slowly revealed by way of a blue light next to the mask, he was among the first cinematographers to make use of a recent invention called the Steadicam, or paraglide.
Some other shows and movies he's worked on include, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Tales of the Unexpected, Romancing the Stone, Invitation To Hell, Big Trouble in Little China, etc.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit; A toon-hating detective is a cartoon rabbit’s only hoping to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder. Basically, 'Toon star Roger is worried that his wife Jessica is playing pattycake with someone else, so the studio hires detective Eddie Valiant to snoop on her. But the stakes are quickly raised when Marvin Acme is found dead, and Roger is the prime suspect. Groundbreaking interaction between the live and animated characters, and lots of references to classic animation.
Dean grew up an avid reader of the American Cinematographer magazines he would buy after school from a local camera shop close by. That was how his inspiration to pursue filmmaking came about. He shifted his focus to theater history while still taking some architectural design classes at California State University before he ultimately enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles film school.
In 1993 Jurassic Park, Dean made a minor appearance as a boat crew member (Mate) while also staffed as director of photography. The film follows a pragmatic paleontologist visiting an almost complete theme park tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose. Huge advancements in scientific technology have enabled a mogul to create an island full of living dinosaurs. A park employee attempts to steal dinosaur embryos, critical security systems are shut down, and it now becomes a race for survival with dinosaurs roaming freely over the island.
Cundey holds over one hundred and fifty cinematography & photography credits for movies, television, and short films. That is no small feat in this business. The man has stayed busy and booked since graduation from film school. That kind of consistency in Hollywood is only doable by having extreme persistence and excellence.
One of the many things he did to stay prepared and on top of his craft was investing into building himself a ‘super van’ or one couple call it a cinematographer’s heaven that contained every equipment (cameras, editings tools, etc.) required to help him get work get and do work easily.
We talk more about this in our chat.
Enjoy my conversation with Dean Cundey.

891 episodes