Cinematographer Pete Warrilow

On shooting with the Island Company crew in Tulum, working with the Canon 5D, Mexican weather, and resisting the call for margaritas at 8am.






I hadn’t shot with it prior and was slightly skeptical. I had developed my own style and was reluctant to change it, but that’s not a reason not to try other ways. So I shot tests and was pleasantly surprised. No amount of tests could duplicate our extreme weather scenarios in Mexico. I loved the dynamic range of the picture style for the shots with the models and sky vistas. The Small HD monitor - DP6 is the best piece of gear I’ve invested in for the Canon 5D. The 7D was for slow mo. It was okay but not ideal.

Working with Bob Curreri, the colorist was a delight and his knowledge of the Canon 5D’s pros, cons and workflow was extremely helpful, especially when we learned about working in 709 color space, compression for the 5D after we removed significant noise and artifcating that concerned us in the initial edits... Would I do things differently again on a similar shoot? Yes! In respect to skin tones, underexposure and ISO settings, but that’s a whole new article...

Cinematographer Pete Warrilow

WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR 9 DAYS IN TULUM?

Lack of sleep. Lack of crew. Resisting Spencer’s urges to have margaritas in the morning…

IS IT TRUE SPENCER STARTED DRINKING MARGARITAS EVERY MORNING AT 8AM?

No, that’s not true – it was 7:30.




More about the making of 'Never Return' & Behind the Scenes

Interview with Director Spencer Antle Behind the Scenes of 'Never Return'

Cinematographer Pete Warrilow

HOW'D YOU AND ISLAND COMPANY'S CREATIVE DIRECTOR SPENCER ANTLE COME TO KNOW EACH OTHER?

I was at a production meeting at Moxie Pictures in Hollywood, this has to be back in ’95, when this ‘kid from the basement’ asked if I would shoot a spec spot with him. ‘Spec Spots’ are what new wannabe directors shoot to string together a reel so people can see if they have talent. Spencer at the time was making $300 a week as a grunt editor in a window-less basement cutting director reels for their sales department. His mouth dropped open when I said sure. I’ve never backed away from a job if I liked the people or the project. That was the beginning! Glad I did.

HOW WAS TULUM AS A LOCATION AND WHAT PROBLEMS DID IT CREATE FOR THE PRODUCTION?

Looked great on the location stills. Pretty cool place but not ideal for shooting. An eco-friendly, green location caused all sorts of problems. Electricity was turned off early evening and came on sometime in the AM. I think we were spread over 4 hotels at one point just to find electricity. 4am hair and make-up calls with no power and water certainly made it interesting. We just needed to charge batteries, and have a hair dryer – a shower too! Sounds simple but not in Tulum. You forget how much you need electricity until you’re looking for places to charge 20 batteries all at once!

Cloudy and rain for the first 4 days made scheduling a challenge but have to say I loved the light and dramatic skies. Beaches were covered with washed up dead seaweed – not exactly attractive! Eventually, sun, sea, sand and jungle – great combo.

YOUR USE OF THE CANON 5D & 7D ON THIS SHOOT; WHAT WAS THE IMPLICATIONS OF USING THIS NEW PLATFORM? WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

The Canon 5D is a great camera, at times frustrating, but great. I bought mine with no intention of shooting spots with it. Originally a Nikon stills gear guy. Canon was the first Company to come out with a full 35mm sensor so I changed over. I used the Canon 5D Mark II for tests, color temperature and action sequences on a HD TV series I was shooting in Egypt. Wasn’t long before I realized its capabilities.

It’s portability, low cost and high image quality on H264, is great for location shooting. In the end, it’s all about the chip and the glass, a bit like food & wine.

WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF WORKING WITH THE ISLAND COMPANY CREW?

Working hard and having fun – I seem to remember! These guys are professional partiers! The best part - it felt like a team all striving to create something unique.

HOW WAS COLLABORATING WITH SPENCER AFTER NOT WORKING WITH HIM FOR A FEW YEARS?

He hasn’t changed one bit! His passion for life and his attention to detail makes him a very special person. Pain in the ass sometimes but usually he’s right, not always! A definite maybe! If ever we argue, it’s out of passion to do something great. Never more than that. And we’ve usually been successful, even in this case with very little. And that fucking hat. I don’t think he’s changed out of his 5 outfits since ’95!

HOW WAS WORKING WITH THE CANON 5D AND 7D?

It was the totally the right decision for this shoot. We decided early on to shoot the Technicolor Cinestyle setting for the Canon 5D & Canon 7D.