Balazs Bolygo HSC BSC – Cursed 

Netflix Original series “Cursed” recently went live on the streaming platform and Balazs Bolygo HSC BSC was the Director of Photography for the penultimate and final episodes of the season. Balazs was the first DP in the UK to use the Premista 80-250 on a shoot and we caught up with him to find out how he got on with it.

Balazs inherited the show and did episodes 9 and 10, the two final episodes in the season. They had been shooting using the Sony Venice in combination with Zeiss Supremes, Full Frame 2:1 format in 17:9 mode. 

From Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler, Cursed is a reimagining of the Arthurian legend told from the perspective of Nimue.

CURSED – Official Trailer

Multi-camera shooting setup

“It was a show where we sometimes had 4 cameras working and obviously trying to get 4 sets of Supremes to cover, plus multiple units, I was very keen to get a zoom working within our facet of lenses. We initially started working with a different manufacturer’s zooms but I noticed that when we put them on I felt a loss of resolution so it didn’t blend in with the rest of the primes.”

“I was interested in trying the Premista to see how it fitted in with the Supremes and I was pleasantly surprised because it bedded in really well to the extent where I ended up shooting on the long zoom for everything from 85mm upwards really.”

Premista image quality

I didn’t feel compromised by putting on the Premista zoom

Balazs Bolygo HSC BSC

“I didn’t feel compromised by putting on the Premista zoom. It held the contrast at the longer end, sometimes better than the longer Supreme, and optically it didn’t feel like you were at the long end of a zoom. It really held up to flaring – it was a pleasant flare. It bedded in with the look of the show for me.”

Size, weight and operability

“We had a frenetic battle sequence with 4 cameras. When you have a couple of hundred extras and horses running around you, you tend to run out of focal length really quickly on full frame. It was really useful having a long zoom that you can work really quickly. “

Shooting on sandy beach, a zoom lens becomes even more valuable

It’s a momentum thing and we just kept moving

Balazs Bolygo HSC BSC

“We had the Optimo Ultra which is twice the size of the Premista. Putting it on just took so much longer. The time it took to change onto the Premista from a Prime was the same time as just changing over two Primes so I didn’t feel “I’m going to lose that camera for 5 minutes while they put the new bars on, put a bigger matte box etc”. It’s a momentum thing and we just kept moving so it was really important and useful.”

Matching Premista with the Zeiss Supremes

The Premista worked because it held the contrast and that level of sharpness of the Supremes

Balazs Bolygo HSC BSC

“For me, the Supremes have a nice personality and are relatively sharp lenses. I didn’t want to give up on that level of sharpness when I put a zoom on. The Premista worked because it held the contrast and that level of sharpness of the Supremes. “

“If I was using older lenses like Cooke S2s it wouldn’t match so well. For a modern sensor high resolution such as the Venice, you sometimes want to deliver the clarity the camera can offer and the Premista lenses do that. Other projects you might want to go the other way and the Premista lenses might be less of a match but you could look at detuning the lens.”

Final question – would you shoot a full production on Premista?

“Yes certainly. I’ve shot large chunks of productions on zooms. Working with zooms is not alien to me. Forcing yourself to have a bit more flexibility and malleability in terms of the way you choose frame sizes could, stylistically, give the audience something to realise and react to. If I was looking for that sort of approach to a project I would certainly use them.”

Balazs Bolygo HSC BSC was talking to Marc Cattrall from Fujinon during a seminar session at Camerimage 2019