Martin Ruhe interview: ‘The Midnight Sky’ cinematographer

“The Midnight Sky” cinematographer Martin Ruhe readily admits that this movie (which is akin to “Gravity” meets “The Revenant”) made for one of the most difficult shoots of his career. “When we started the film, we were shooting in Iceland and we were filming on a glacier. We went into real snowstorms, it was so cold.” Ruhe was part of Gold Derby’s Meet the BTL Experts panel, conducted virtually by this writer (watch above).

Ruhe welcomed the opportunity to reunite with George Clooney to make this Netflix release. The pair had worked together on the 2010 film “The American” and the 2019 limited series “Catch 22.” As with the latter, Clooney pulled triple duty on this new Netflix release as star, director and producer. The Oscar-winning actor plays a scientist in the Arctic racing to stop a crew of astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

Ruhe detailed the myriad difficulties he encountered in this remote location and the innovative ways in which he worked to overcome these obstacles. “We had our actors and hand-held cameras. It was not so much a choice but more of how can we shoot this. The winds on that glacier were so strong. You think about what you would like to do and then reality hits you.”

The cinematographer found the shift from Iceland’s vastness to Shepperton Studios, where the scenes in space were filmed, to be exhilarating. As he explains, “The Midnight Sky” was shot using the large format Arri Alexa 65-millimeter camera. “We had these gigantic vistas but also this very small story. I love how you have to get the camera close and shoot with lenses that have a wider field of view. With 65, they feel longer; it is a very beautiful format.”

Last year, Ruhe was nominated at the American Society of Cinematographers Awards on the TV side for his lensing of “Catch 22.” He won this same movie/mini category in 2012 for “Page Eight.” And he took home a prize at the 2007 British Independent Film Awards for his work on “Control.”

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UPLOADED Dec 9, 2020 2:51 pm