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article imageCinematographer Laura Beth Love on 'Sharknado' and more Special

By Adrian Peel     May 26, 2016 in Entertainment
Got a horror or science fiction film that needs to look amazing? Get on to those White Pages and find Laura Beth Love's number. The in-demand cinematographer from North Carolina has worked on numerous projects and has also won awards.
35-year-old industry stalwart, Laura Beth - who has also directed and produced - has played an important technical role in various big-budget productions, including Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and Bound.
How are you? What have you been doing recently?
"I'm great! In February and March I was shooting Sharknado 4 and in April I finished up a film I directed back in December, called Independents' Day. It's been non-stop. Now I've actually just landed in Oklahoma to prepare for my next feature, a thriller called Stillwater."
I understand two films you worked on, Tabloid Vivant and The Horde, are coming out soon? Please could you tell me about your work on both.
"I'm so excited to see these films released. Both represent indie projects put together by passionate producers. The producers and directors of both films also really cared about creating cinematic images, even on modest budgets.
"Tabloid Vivant is a sort of art-house thriller. The script was so visual and my initial discussions with director Kyle Broom were focused on paintings and metaphors. I got to play. It was a lot of paintings within paintings, flashbacks, stylised sequences...
"We shot in black and white with black stockings over the lens, then mocked up a deliberately hokey rear-projection car driving sequence. The photography for the film alternates between natural and unnatural - sometimes effortless, sometimes contrived. It was a lot of fun."
"The Horde is an unapologetic action/horror film, a totally different direction from Tabloid Vivant but just as exciting for me, visually. I've shot four films with the director, Jared Cohn, and it's always a pleasure. Jared and the producers wanted The Horde to look scary yet polished.
"Just like the story is a throwback to Rambo and the classic horror movies of the 1980s and '90s, we also wanted the look to be more 'clean and classic' than the trending look of indie 'torture porn.' Nights were my biggest challenge. We spent at least two thirds of our schedule shooting nights.
"In fact, all of the bar interiors you see in the film (with the sunlight streaming in) were shot at night... The words for the shoot were 'backlight,' 'high contrast' and 'fog' - Jared loves his fog! I have to give a shout out to our fabulous colourist Mike Verta for maximising every frame I captured."
Laura Beth Love
Laura Beth Love
October Coast PR
You're currently working on Sharknado 4. Why do you think that particular film series has been so successful?
"My favourite part of shooting the Sharknado movies is the absurdity of my job for that day. 'Okay, now for this scene you will actually be inside a shark' and then someone wraps me in plastic and takes off my shoes. It's hysterical, yet I have to keep a straight face and try to figure out where I should motivate the light inside the shark!
"We do a lot of 'Star Trek' moments where the actors are faking like they are being blown around by wind. The director screams 'It's a Sharknado!' and everyone just goes crazy on set, including the camera operators. I think that's why people love it. It's absurd. We know it's absurd, yet we try anyway."
How did you first get started on the road to becoming a cinematographer? Was it something you always wanted to do?
"I discovered cinematography while I was at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I was focused on writing and directing, until freshman year taught me that cinematography encompassed at least half of what I had thought a director was responsible for. In truth, it varies quite a bit from artist to artist and show to show...
"So I started focusing on cinematography and moved to L.A. in 2003. I've now shot 27 features, about half of which are independent films. While I will always be a cinematographer, this career has also proved to be a fantastic study of directing (of course).
"I've been officially and unofficially co-directing for years and I'm very excited about the release of my first feature as a director this summer, Independents' Day. As an artist, I genuinely love both directing and cinematography and I think the two are inextricably linked."
What do you enjoy most about your job?
"I love telling stories and I love the adventure. Sometimes we end up in odd places, doing bizarre things, and then on screen you suddenly see it all snap into place. It feels like painting in 3D with real, full-scale objects. It's a tremendous privilege to have this thing which I love so much as my career. I can't imagine doing anything else."
In 2011, you were awarded Best Cinematography at the Underdogs Film Festival for your work on Eve: Beauty and the Blade. What was that like?
"I received that award in the mail! The director, Ron Santiano, attended that festival where Eve swept a bunch of categories that year. That award was particularly special to me, given that the project was so low-budget that my entire crew was actually just myself and one guy named Glenn Miller...
"I think Ron really valued our contribution to his movie. He was willing to wait the extra time it took for the two of us to, say, light a night exterior, build cameras and assemble a jib, even though he was feeling the pressure from the schedule."
What advice would you give to young people out there hoping to follow in your footsteps?
"Just start shooting. Whether it's a short film on your cellphone or a Sharknado movie, there is always something to learn. Also, try to edit as much as you can. Editing your own footage is the best 'graduate film program' I can recommend.
"Make sure you know what you are trying to say, be it as a director, cinematographer, editor or producer. If we don't know what we are trying to say, how can we expect the audience to understand? And if we aren't trying to say anything in particular, then what's the point?"
What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and beyond? What ambitions do you hope to fulfill?
"I'll be shooting Stillwater with the very talented director James Cullen Bressack over the next month. I've got a couple of thrillers in the works and I'm looking forward to a couple of indie films that I should be shooting in the fall.
"My first love was writing but I put down the pen 15 years ago when I picked up a camera. About two years ago, I started writing again and I'll begin pitching my ideas as indie projects this year."
Laura Beth's showreel can be viewed here.
For more information, visit her official website.
More about laura beth love, the horde, tabloid vivant, sharknado 3, sharknado 4
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