Blake McClure

As you began your career, what films/cinematographers did you study and why? It’s difficult to narrow down favorites in any category: music, film, sports, etc. There’s so much great creative work in the world I try to be as open minded about everything as possible. That being said, Roger Deakins’ style of lighting has always inspired me. I love the mood cinematographers like Jeff Cronenweth,
Darius Khondji, Harris Savides and Emmanuel Lubezki develop. Claudio Miranda and Hoyte Van Hoytema are doing incredible things right now.

What other artistic fields influence your work? I use music to help discover the tone of the script; it serves as a jumping off point for lighting. I’ve always liked the idea of being able to create ambience in film, similar to the way a singer expresses himself through the tone of a song. Photography and paintings also play a huge part in my understanding of light and placing a frame around a certain tone. Robert Frank’s contrast-y black & white, Vermeer’s soft ambient light and Andrew Wyeth’s stark realism all keep my imagination going for hours.

Please give us an example of a movie, a sequence, that says “this is what making movies is all about”. The first movie that comes to mind is the Coen Brothers’, Hudsucker Proxy. After 20 or 30 viewings over the years, I still reference many different scenes from that film. The Coens created such an incredibly complicated and detailed world, which was beautifully executed by the entire production team. It really doesn’t get any better than that. It’s unfortunate that movie didn’t get the credit it deserved. Every movie those guys make is genius.

What is one of your favorite locations that you’ve shot and why? As a DP I’ve been fortunate enough to film in many different places, but the area I come back to the most is Denmark. There’s something about the light in that part of the world, especially in winter, that I haven’t quite seen anywhere else. I’m obsessed with Danish cinematographers and painters; I’m inspired by their use of that quality of light.

If you hadn’t become a Cinematographer, what would you have done? I would like to have been an architect. A few years ago, I designed and built my first house. It was such a fun and challenging experience. I think in another lifetime that would’ve been the job for me… but maybe I can still do it as a hobby.

As you speak to people who have the passion for the industry you do, what kind of advice do you pass on? During my senior year in high school, I worked for a company in Nashville that turned out music videos on a daily basis. I floated around every department because I wanted to grasp the entirety of filmmaking. I worked as a grip, an apprentice editor, PA, casting assistant, production coordinator, director, etc. I think it’s important to understand what every person on set does so you can fully appreciate what it takes to make a film. And by doing that, I found my passion in cinematography and haven’t looked back since. I always try to remind people that they shouldn’t be afraid to shoot projects for free!

How would you summarize your experience with OConnor? As long as we have an OConnor 2575 on set I know I’ll be able to get the shot without any problems. From the fluid motion, the 90 degree tilt option, the easy to use tilt and pan locks. Their gear always does its job without any added headache. I won’t work with another fluid head.

Biography

Blake McClure is a cinematographer who shoots a wide variety of styles, connected by his ever-present attention to detail in his lighting work.

McClure is currently lensing the second season of Comedy Central’s Drunk History. Based on a series of popular FunnyOrDie.com videos, each episode focuses on a famous moment in history, with the story narrated by a very drunk person and acted out by a cast of famous comedians.

Each episode of Drunk History takes place during a different time period, so McClure creates a new look and tone for each story – an opportunity to play with various lighting styles, lenses and camera movements.

The American Society of Cinematographers honored McClure with the Award for Best Cinematography in a Half-Hour Episodic Series for his work on the first season of Drunk History.

Next up, McClure will lens another Comedy Central series Big Time in Hollywood, FL. The series stars creator Alex Anfanger and Lenny Jacobson as brothers who are kicked out of their parents house and begin a journey to pursue their dreams. Ben Stiller produces alongside Anfanger and co-creator Dan Schimpf. Comedy Central has ordered 10 episodes of the series.

McClure’s recent credits also include feature The Grace of Jake. The A character drama about a man seeking revenge against the father who abandoned him, McClure shot the Southern Gothic tale in the Delta region of Arkansas, where the textures of the location make for moody backdrops. McClure also photographed the short film Record/Play, which qualified for the 2014 Oscars’ Live Action Shorts award.

Influenced by cinematographers with diverse styles, McClure admires the work of contemporary DPs including Hoyte Van Hoytema; Claudio Miranda, ASC; Jeff Cronenweth, ASC; Emmanuel Lubezski, Darius Khondji and Roger Deakins.

McClure’s earliest on-set experiences include working as a set PA on the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?, shot by Roger Deakins. McClure credits those two months on set with teaching him as much about cinematography as he learned in film school. McClure worked in almost every department, from editing to casting, to the camera department, before narrowing his focus to his preferred role of cinematographer.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, McClure found inspiration in an unfamiliar source, the Earnest movies (Earnest Goes to Camp, Earnest Scared Stupid, etc.), because they filmed in and around his East Nashville neighborhood. Seeing crews moving about and setting up big lights revealed the world of filmmaking to McClure, who went on to attend Watkins Film School in Nashville.

While always striving to innovate with his lighting, McClure takes great pleasure in the collaborative nature of filmmaking. He values working with actors, crew and directors to tell a story above all else. He has shot in diverse locations including Cambodia, Mexico City, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Copenhagen and Toronto and all over the United States.

McClure lives with his wife in Los Angeles. A member of the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600), he is represented by Dattner Dispoto and Associates.