PRODUCTION THE BOYS IN THE BOAT
Eventually, Ruhe stumbled upon Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 film Olympia . “It had the best energy and put you right in the boat,” which Ruhe attempted to emulate in The Boys in the Boat . “It was not easy,” emphasises Ruhe. “To work on the water is logistically very complicated.” WATERPROOFING The crew completed two weeks of testing, alternating between different mounts and camera boats until they found a set-up that stuck. “We went with the ARRI ALFA lenses, which are large format, anamorphic lenses,” states Ruhe. “This was because the boat is 60ft long, so I thought it should be anamorphic. George agreed, also due to the scale and scope. Plus, we wanted to be cinematic.” Although Clooney has spent most of his career in front of the camera, Ruhe declares: “He knows almost everything and has a strong instinct. At the same time, he’s very trusting,” which allowed some creative leeway. Occasionally, Ruhe switched to spherical zoom lenses, cropping ‘for a particular image if we needed to intensify the action’. He generally stayed away from filters – apart from some indoor scenes – keeping a ‘natural eye’ throughout.
IT WAS NOT EASY – TO WORK ON THE WATER IS logistically very complicated ”
DIVING IN Though the story is largely split between Seattle, Washington and Berlin, on-site production took place entirely in the UK. “We shot some of the boat scenes here in Henley, the Queen Mother Reservoir and the Cotswolds,” details Ruhe. “We had quite a bit of location work with little studio work.” The studio, based in Reading, was used primarily for building interiors similar to Berlin’s. Other interiors were shot on location in old schools around the area. Shooting on location introduced some unexpected obstacles. “The Queen Mother Reservoir is right in the flight path to Heathrow,” explains Ruhe. “When we did dialogue scenes, we had to wrangle with the planes because they were coming right in over us.”
Ruhe opted for the Sony Venice for the film’s main camera, largely due to its Rialto extension system, which allows filmmakers to separate the camera’s sensor from its body without compromising on image quality. The camera gave Ruhe the flexibility to mount it without it becoming too heavy. “It shot probably 90% of the film,” he confirms. The Boys in the Boat incorporates drone footage, too, organised by The Helicopter Girls to complement the close-ups with wider landscape shots. During testing, the crew tried various drones: hybrids, classics and everything in between. “From those, we picked the ones which could do the quickest moves and had the longest flight time,” recounts Ruhe, a testament to the film’s fast- paced, unyielding action.
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