‘Meet the Experts’: Sean Porter (’20th Century Women’ cinematographer) on working with Mike Mills for ‘coming of age story’

For cinematographer Sean Porter, shooting “20th Century Women,” Mike Mills‘ new comedy about the shift in American life from the 1970s to the 1980s, was, “a unique experience.” He “was born on the heels of that,” and therefore, “wasn’t really privy or part of that experience.” Porter was part of a “Meet the Experts” panel presented by Gold Derby at the Landmark Theater in L.A. on November 22 to spotlight great achievements in crafts. During the chat with Tom O’Neil, he describes the film as being the director’s, “coming of age story,” and admits he, “didn’t have traditional insider information on how that went down, or how it felt to be there.”

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The film stars Annette Bening as a single mother raising her son (Lucas Jade Zumann) against the changing landscape of the country. She enlists the help of two other women (Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning) to help her navigate the young boy’s adolescence. “It’s a coming of age for everybody in the story at various points in their lives,” reveals Porter.

He divulges that early on, a decision was made to show Bening’s true nature, “to say, ‘She is a real amazing person, both in the script and in real life, and we’re going to celebrate that rather than turn it into something it’s not.” They forwent with any unnecessary lighting or makeup, realizing, “there’s such an innate inner beauty that she has, and she glows no matter what her circumstances are.”

Porter received his first Independent Spirt Award nomination in 2015 for his work on “It Felt Like Love.” Earlier this year saw the release of two other films lensed by the up-and-comer: “The Trust” and “Green Room.” We will post a video soon of the entire conversation between Porter and O’Neil.

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