‘Marvel’s Inhumans': Director Roel Reine and Cinematographer Jeff Jur on Filming in IMAX

     August 23, 2017

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One of the big reasons I’m excited to see the first two hours of Marvel’s Inhumans is the production shot the pilot using IMAX cameras. As a huge fan of the format, I can’t wait to see the action come to life on their massive screen.

Back when the show was filming earlier this year in Hawaii, I was able to visit the set with a few other reporters where we did a group interview with director Roel Reine and cinematographer Jeff Jur during a break in filming. They talked about if they had any extra challenges filming in IMAX, what Reine did to prepare for the shoot, what was Reine’s vision for the project, if they were preparing any differently because it was TV and not a movie, the post-production plans, Easter eggs to the greater MCU, and a lot more.

If you’re not familiar with the series, based on the Marvel comic, it’s doing something incredibly cool and unusual. The first two episodes will premiere globally in IMAX theatres for a limited two-week period, beginning September 1, 2017, and then ABC will air the entire eight-episode series beginning September 29th. It’s an incredibly ambitious idea, but one I can’t wait to see.

Finally, before getting to the interview, check out the trailer followed by the official synopsis:

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“Marvel’s Inhumans” explores the never-before-told epic adventure of the royal family including Black Bolt, the enigmatic, commanding King of the Inhumans, with a voice so powerful that the slightest whisper can destroy a city. After the Royal Family of Inhumans is splintered by a military coup, they barely escape to Hawaii where they are greeted with surprising interactions with the lush world and humanity around them. Now they must find a way to reunite with each other and return to their home before their way of life is destroyed forever.

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“Marvel’s Inhumans” stars Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Iwan Rheon as Maximus, Serinda Swan as Medusa, Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon, Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, Ken Leung as Karnak, Ellen Woglom as an undisclosed character, Sonya Balmores as Auran and Mike Moh as Triton.

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The series is executive produced by Scott Buck, along with Marvel’s Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory with Buck serving as showrunner. Roel Reiné directed the first two episodes. This series is a Marvel and IMAX project and is co-produced by Marvel Television and ABC Studios.

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Question: What excited you as a director to really do this movie, that is different from regular films you direct?

inhumans-marvel-abc-imax-posterREINE: World building is of course the biggest dream as a director – you create something new from scratch. And the “Inhumans” brand, like, the history in the comic books is such an iconic thing. If you know the Marvel universe, then the Inhumans and how they are intertwined with a lot of other characters in the Marvel world – it is a very important factor. So, when I heard about… first of all we were trying to do a feature, I do not know, in few years from now. So, when I heard about it, I was like, “Oh, that is going to be great!” Because, I am not really a comic books guy, I would never have time to do it. But you’ve read about these characters, about Black Bolt and Lockjaw, you know, about these characters and their world, where they are in. So, then when they were talking about a TV show, I was like, “Holy shit!” And then, when I was having meetings about it, maybe doing it, it was like a dream! Like a dream come true! And then shooting it on IMAX – it is like the double dream!

Were there any specific challenges that you did not foresee?

REINE: On the IMAX part or in general?

Doing it with the IMAX camera.

REINE: I think the IMAX camera; it is much easier than I thought. And it is also because of how the IMAX people were helping us. And from day one I was invited by them, became part of the family, they showed me a lot of footage in the IMAX theaters, I could play with the camera, and just throw it around handheld, and I was operating myself, feeling this thing. Because you always thing that IMAX is this big clunky film thing, and it was of course a few years ago, it was like a minivan, right, so, like a mini cooper – as big. But with this ALEXA 65 it is a different ball game, but you have to set your mind to it, so, a lot of things that I would do normally, I would not do now, and moving the camera – I now move a camera in a different way, or frame in a different way. But I still try to push the envelope, I was, for example, very intrigued in the process that we were working together, and they showed me a lot of footage, and we had meeting about it, I also was with one of your technical people, I went to see the ten minutes of Dunkirk, and I asked them – the IMAX – for a list of all the lenses that Chris Nolan used, so I could understand the lens length, and what it was doing. And also I was very afraid of handhelds in the IMAX format, but when I saw the thing and we talked about how they shot Dunkirk [with] handhelds, and how they did it, than I also implemented it to our show. And so, be a little bit more bold than you would normally do when you shoot IMAX. But it has never limited me, it more has inspired me to do cool shots, and to do… pick the locations that have a lot of headroom. For example, there is this one location, where we had a shot of this building in Hawaii. I chose the angle, but it had a lot of overgrowing trees, so when you see the shot, it has all this headroom that is beautifully framed in the cameras. So, it inspired me, it never limited me.

Can you talk about the difference between the ALEXA and IMAX and the lenses.

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Image via ABC

REINE: No, I do not think that technically I see a difference, because the cameras are really looking like a bigger version of an ALEXA. So they are just a little bit bigger, and it says IMAX on the side. I do not think they understand the difference that we experience. You know, for me big difference is that a 24mm lens on IMAX is not the [same] 24 as I am shooting for the last 20 years. You know, a 24 becomes now like a 12. So, and a 100 is like a 50. So, for us technically I had to change kind of my mind in how I would use the lenses, but for the actors it is a… I do not think they feel any difference. I think they feel responsibility, which is good, you know. And they will feel that we are really digging around with lots about details in hair, details in a background, because you are going to see every little schmutzy thing on the outfit. So they will feel that, but I do not think it limits them or… no.

What was your vision for the Inhumans that made you the right guy for this project?

REINE: Oh, you have to ask Marvel that. I always told them that I want to make it very grounded, very based in reality. Because we are talking about super humans, we are talking about a really big dog that is really as big as a mini cooper as well as big as an IMAX camera, as an old IMAX camera. I always pitched them a grounded, a very grounded TV show, that everything will feel very real even within this in-real world. And also I talked about sculpt. You know, all my movies that I have done, I was able for not a lot of money to make it look really big. And the way I achieved that is by… I do not know, being smart maybe, I do not know. Good prep. Good angles choosing, locations. What are you doing with the camera. And also in my past I also DP my movies and operate the camera, so I know a lot about what a camera will do in an environment. So, in that regard I pitched them a very epic big sculpt thing even on a TV budget or in a TV schedule. Because we are doing these two episodes in like twenty days, what is… kind of in the sculpt that we are doing, and the SG we have, and the big sets, and battles – is unheard of. And that is kind of my specialty, maybe.

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Image via ABC

And also in this vein, you know, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, right? You have Marvel, and they are protecting their brand and their characters. You have ABC, they want a TV show with a lot of drama and emotion. We have IMAX, they want a spectacle, and a big sculpt. And I want everything. So, it is also the managing of all these important parties, and fighting… you know, when you are with this party and fighting for this party, and when I am with that party and fighting for that party. That was also a big challenge for me, and I liked that, you know, because you want to give everybody and every party on the table what they really want and looking for and find the balance.

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