First off is last year’s romantic road drama, QUEEN AND SLIM, directed by Melina Matsoukas – who you may know from her countless music videos with pop icons like Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and many more – this film is a modern re-imagining of the Bonnie and Clyde story through the lens of the Black American experience. It was shot on 35mm by British cinematographer Tat Radcliffe and features largely LED lightning, a technique you’d be hard pressed to find in many films with this sort of gritty realist aesthetic 10 years ago, but has become increasingly common these days. Take a look at some of the day interior sequences for a great example of how to create a unique mood through the use of practicals and carefully placed sunlight sources during daytime shooting.
Then we’ve got Spike Lee’s 1999 thriller, SUMMER OF SAM, a New York City neighborhood drama set against the backdrop of the infamous Son of Sam serial killings. Shot by Ellen Kuras, the film features frequent use of the cross processing lab technique, a method that was very popular in music videos at the time but has since become somewhat of a rarity, making this film a fantastic and unique visual reference for colorists and cinematographers looking to create a harsher more aggressive look for their project.
And finally we have BELLY, the eye-popping crime drama directed by 90s/00s music video titan Hype Williams and shot by the often imitated, never duplicated Malik Hassan Sayeed. You may notice that we’ve posted a higher-than-usual number of images for this one (nearly 500), especially given its brisk 92 minute runtime, but our choice will make perfect sense to anyone who’s seen the film before. Every single shot is a bold visual statement in and of itself, a gold mine for inspiration and visual reference. Dig in and see for yourself!