From Travis Bickle to Henry Hill, director Martin Scorsese has brought some of the most memorable, larger-than-life characters to the big screen. In WOLF OF WALL STREET, Scorsese brings us Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a real-life stockbroker-swindler turned motivational speaker whose excessive lifestyle sets the stage for an outrageous cinematic joyride.
Director of photography Rodrigo Prieto ASC, AMC (ARGO, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN) was elated to work with the legendary auteur. “I always admired Marty’s work. RAGING BULL is one of my favorite films of all time. I could not have conceived that I would one day shoot a film for him. It’s been an amazing experience,” he says.
Shot on ARRICAMS and ALEXA by Rodrigo Prieto ASC, AMC THE WOLF OF WALL STREET tells the surreal life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort.
The filmmakers decided on a hybrid approach for capture: 4-perf Super 35mm using ARRICAMS for scenes shot during the day; ARRI ALEXA Studio and Plus cameras for night scenes, greenscreen work and experimental shutter speeds. ARRI CSC supplied the camera, lighting and grip packages for production.
ALEXA’s sensitivity and low noise was put to the test for a night scene in Jordan’s Manhattan apartment. Prieto notes, "We shot that scene with the Master Primes wide open and lit the interior of the apartment with LEDs. The lighting was dimmed to a low enough level that we could expose for the city lights at night through the windows. Even though the windows were heavily tinted, you could see the lights outside. There was no other way we could have gotten those shots without ALEXA and the Master Primes."
A few powerful monologues show Belfort's ability to inspire and empower. During one pivotal speech at the Stratton Oakmont offices, the camera focuses on the crowd as they take in his words. A bright light shines through the audience into the camera. "All of the scenes in that room were lit with lights on a truss outside the windows plus the fluorescent practicals inside," he explains. "For that shot, we lowered the truss with an ARRIMAX 18K down into the window, shining in. That was a key scene where I wanted the moment to resonate, as if Jordan Belfort felt that God was looking down on them."
Booze, drugs, sex and adrenaline fuel the main character as we witness his rise and fall. To portray some of his most extreme states of inebriation on Quaaludes, Prieto utilized ALEXA's shutter for a stylized, in-camera effect. Says Prieto, "I didn’t want to do something too obvious and or called too much attention to itself. We wanted the audience to feel something wasn’t normal and eventually came up with shooting at 12 frames per second with a 360-degree shutter. Then each image was printed twice. This caused distortion and created motion blur to give a loose feel -- like Jordan’s extremely slack state of mind. Shooting on the ALEXA allowed us to use the 360-degree shutter at 12fps to create this effect."
WOLF OF WALL STREET was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.