When filming "Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History", Kristian Dane Lawing SOC had a Cooke S4/i kit, comprising eight prime lenses, with him for the shoot. (Photo credit: Jon Hirsch)
Kristian Dane Lawing SOC utilised Cooke S4/i prime lenses to capture a cinematic look for the six-part miniseries
Produced by Glass Entertainment Group, Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History is scheduled to premiere on CNN this Easter weekend. Combining never-seen-before footage, exclusive interviews and dramatic recreations, the six-part miniseries focuses on the men who have held this position, and reveals the true stories from the Vatican’s past.
Behind the production of Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History, Kristian Dane Lawing, a member of the Society of Camera Operators (SOC), wanted to capture each era in its own look and distinctly cinematic feel. To achieve this, he relied on Cooke S4/i prime lenses.
Lawing explained: “For the last year-and-a-half, I’ve used either the S4/i series or the miniS4/i primes pretty much exclusively. I like the cinematic look that Cooke gives me; they’re not harsh — especially with digital cinematography — and they have a contrast I really love, with deep blacks where the midtowns don’t suffer and great bokeh.”
Lawing had a Cooke S4/i kit with eight primes: 18/25/32/40/50/75/100/135mm, relying mostly on the 25mm and 40mm for much of the two-camera shot, with 138mm +1 and +2 diopters added for close-up shots. These lenses were fitted onto the ARRI Alexa SXT camera.
“We used a lot of candlelight in this production, and at one point considered lighting almost entirely with candles, as that was the actual source of light for many of those real events,” Lawing said. “We created a convincingly natural look with LED lighting and placed practical candles in our frames to complete the effect. The bokeh and fall-off were really nice and not at all distracting. The way the Cooke lenses handle flame and flaring is very nice, and something I can utilise creatively.”
One scene where the S4/i primes particularly stood out, he pointed out, was when Pope Pius XII first sees the atrocities of the concentration camps early in the Second World War.
Lawing added: “As we circle around Pope Pius and a group of Bishops watching a 16mm film of a concentration camp, we see their faces. That scene looked so good that we ended up overshooting it, shooting right down the projector’s lens.
“I can shoot into a film projector, directly at hot windows, it just looks fantastic. I don’t have to worry the way I would have to with other current or vintage glass.”