The ballroom scenes on FX’s “Pose” are where cinematographer Andrei Bowden Schwartz gets to shine the most. With each performer and performance being so unique, combined with the live energy of the crowd, Schwartz may rely on a few setups he knows work, but it is nearly impossible to be repetitive. “Filming the ballroom scenes for ‘Pose’ is something that we all look forward to very much but part of us dreads because there is so much that’s unknown about how each one is going to unfold,” Schwartz says in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “They’re also the most technically challenging things that we do on the season and per episodes because there are so many people doing so many very unique performances.” Watch the new video interview with Schwartz above.
The process of those ball scenes involves Schwartz watching rehearsals carefully to best highlight each performance during their trademark walks. He then proceeds to “synthesize that with the technical knowledge of the space that you already have.” “Pose” also spends a great deal of time in the cramped House of Evangelista apartment. While the ballroom and the House of Evangelista outwardly appear to be very different, Schwartz points out that they share a surprising amount of commonalities. “The truth is, once you get your feet wet and you start getting into it, there’s actually a lot of similarity between the environments and that’s by design,” he states. “All the sets have hard ceilings and they are recreations of real spaces in New York City to a vast degree and as accurately as was practically possible.”
Season 2 of “Pose” featured multiple scenes of tense conflict between characters at a crossroads and Schwartz was very attentive to the dynamics between characters in order to tell the story visually. Poring over each script, the cinematographer thought out “concepts to explore about space between the characters in this scene or closeness between characters in this scene or how they should be interacting and whether it should be a direct eye-line or whether it should be a different kind of ‘over’ where they’re more obscured.” He adds that he consciously tries to give actors space to explore their environment rather than lock them into any sort of blocking sequence.
“Pose” is the first Ryan Murphy production for Schwartz and he credits the collaborative process on-set for making it feel so special. “This show is unlike anything that I’ve worked on in the past and maybe will get to work on again in the future,” Schwartz admits. “The whole thing from top to bottom feels deeply honest and very unique and like an experience that I think everybody who steps onto our set knows is extremely rare and extremely special and extremely valuable.”
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