As Insecure comes to a close following five celebrated seasons, the coming-of-age series helmed by Issa Rae will certainly sparkle among the stars of other iconic HBO shows. Cinematographer Ava Berkofsky, ASC played a crucial role in devising the look of Insecure, joining the seminal series in its second season.
Berkofsky, who prefers the pronouns they/them, earned nominations in 2019 and 2020 for their work lensing Insecure. Welcomed into the American Society of Cinematographers in 2022, they described their philosophical approach to cinematography as searching for “poetry and humanity in what can be a brutal social landscape.”
You can read the full article over at British Cinematographer.
Berkofsky changed the look of Insecure after they joined in the first season. The series started as the web series Awkward Black Girl before getting picked up by HBO and receiving a much larger budget. So, from the camera and lenses to the lighting package and even the production team, Berkofsky underwent a massive transformation.
Rather than lens a traditional comedy, Berkofsky preferred to focus on the time and place in order to capture the culture which really defines the series.
Learn more about what cameras and lenses were used to film Insecure at British Cinematographer.
LIGHTING DARK SKIN TONES
Across the industry, Insecure is lauded for its approach to lighting dark skin tones. This celebration of diversity takes place alongside other prominent artists, like Barry Jenkins, who has been instrumental in redefining how dark skin tones appear in film and television.
In the past, we have discussed filmmakers and their approach to lighting dark skin tones. For instance, cinematographer Sade Ndya notes that there is a misconception lighting dark skin by using too much light. This aligns with Berkofsky who told British Cinematographer:
“We took the idea of overexposing darker skin tones and in general went to underexposing and pushing the digital negative, allowing that to start the ball rolling on the new look that we were going for.”
Lookup Tables (LUTs) are an effective way to visually convey rich, dark skin tones. Filmmakers Academy mentor Gabrielle Blackwood developed four shades of dark skin tone LUTs that she provides for free.
- Dark Pecan I
- Dark Pecan II
- Dark Syrup
Read more about lighting dark skin tones with Ava Berkofsky at British Cinematographer.
Read more by Helen Parkinson about the director of photography Ava Berkofsky, ASC, and how she lensed Insecure over at British Cinematographer.
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