Definition February 2024 - Web


Another obstacle was the weather, which needed to remain consistent throughout an entire racing sequence. Ruhe and his team sometimes shot a single scene over five days to ensure its cohesion in the final product. While shooting five straight days of rowing might seem daunting for a DOP, it’s even worse for an actor, who might be trained to row seven or eight minutes at a time. “Obviously, they can’t go ten hours,” states Ruhe. “You have to get them in the boat to do a piece, then out of the boat to do another piece – maybe try to do something in between with some other rowers, with the other boats. Putting all of that together was the biggest challenge.” SEEING DOUBLE For the cast of The Boys in the Boat , the line blurred between actor and athlete. While actual athletes formed the other crews, the central characters went through intense training to prepare for numerous races. “They started early, so they had a couple of months where they trained, and had to do that in winter – in the cold,” recounts Ruhe. “We went out there, saw them rowing and were scared because they were terrible in the beginning!” he laughs. Ruhe and Clooney quickly realised how best to align the shooting schedule with the actors’ abilities. “We planned to do all the practising very early in the

GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM It wasn’t all smooth sailing while shooting the boat scenes. Planes overhead and changing weather meant Ruhe had his work cut out ensuring continuity

shooting, so they could look like they were just learning to get there. We gave them a few weeks in between where we filmed the other scenes. Then, when we came back to rowing, they had advanced,” Ruhe recalls. “As a group, they grew together; it was beautiful to see. When we came back, they were so much better at rowing, and it helped everything. The final race was shot on the last days.” The other boats were filled with trained rowers – ‘some Olympic rowers’, shares Ruhe. “We had to find enough of them – 64 rowers, eight coxswains – to fill the boats. That’s a lot of people.” Due to various issues – illness, dropouts and scheduling conflicts – ‘we had doubles’, says Ruhe, but only for the

extras. “Because of the boats going in one direction, we mainly shot profiles, static or from a drone. For some of the races, we had eight boats [in frame] and shot with three camera boats. “We realised early on,” Ruhe continues, “when we were trying to use doubles, that it didn’t work. You see too much of the face, so it’s our actors.” monotonous. With the final film including four separate races, Ruhe was careful to avoid repetition. “We tried to make every race a little bit different,” he shares. “We had storyboards for everything; I think we had 200 pages.” Ruhe would alternate the angles depending on the performance of the UW boat. In many sequences, the main characters struggled to keep up, only pulling ahead at the last moment. “There are some shots where we’re right in front of our rowers, and you see them coming in and moving towards the camera,” explains Ruhe. “In the Berlin final, they were hopelessly behind. Then, they did a miracle sprint. That’s when we used that piece of language.” To keep audiences engaged throughout, Ruhe leant into his initial inspiration from Olympia . “Our ambition was always to make you feel like you’re right there with them.” GOING FOR GOLD Aesthetically, rowing can appear The Boys in the Boat is in theatres now. It will be available to stream via Amazon Prime Video in the coming months



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