Dispatches from the Set – Mike Satrazemis (Director of Photography)
The Walking Dead‘s director of photography Mike Satrazemis describes Season 4’s massive walker herds and which actor would make the best cameraman.
Q: First question: are walkers photogenic?
A: The way [Executive Producer and Special FX Makeup Designer Greg] Nicotero does the walkers, they’re very photogenic. Especially the full-time walkers, because we have three levels of walkers and not all of them can be shot. But the ones that Greg has designed are highly photogenic.
Q: Can you tell us about shooting walker herd scenes? We heard there were going to be a bunch this season.
A: There’s going to be a good deal this season, more than we’ve ever seen. It’s great to shoot those. We can put on the widest lens we have and fill it with information people and walkers. And it’s crazy to see that many walkers. The amount of work that Greg and those guys had to do this season to get it together is pretty mind-blowing. But yeah we have some massive herds, and it becomes pretty overwhelming.
Q: What are some of your favorite types of scenes to shoot?
A: I’ve always been attracted to the show because of the story. So any time we isolate a couple of characters and get to tell the story that’s underneath this comic book, apocalyptic show, that’s fun for me.
Q: How many comic book references or callbacks do you incorporate into the show?
A: We always try to find graphic frames, like close-ups with a wider lens. There’s a lot of references in the way we frame things. And as far as lighting, I’m trying to go a lot darker than the comic books. A lot of the show is set in the daytime, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a bright sunny day everywhere. There are very few bright sunny days for our characters.
Q: Are there any other sources of visual inspiration that you draw from and bring to The Walking Dead?