Thursday, August 28, 2014

Alex Buono and SNL's Djesus Uncrossed

Like many of you, Saturday Night Live has always been one of my favorite shows on television. I've always been amazed at how the cast, crew, and writers can assemble a full live show in only a week. However, in recent years, filmed segments have become more and more prevalent on the show, with the rise of The Lonely Island's digital shorts and other pre-taped skits. These segments also interest me for a couple of reasons: they almost always perfectly capture the tone of what they're trying to parody; they excellently utilize the hosts and other special celebrity guests; and they have amazing production value for the short amount of time they're assembled in. As a fan of these skits, I was thrilled earlier in the year to discover the personal blog of Alex Buono, the DP for SNL's film unit. My favorite post of his details the production of Season 38's Djesus Uncrossed sketch, a parody of Tarantino's Django Unchained, starring that film's Christoph Waltz.

The blog post details the full production of the sketch, from Buono receiving the script at 9am on Thursday morning to the finished sketch airing around midnight on Saturday night. Some highlights include insight into a location scouting process where shooting was to begin the next day, the insane shooting timeline required by SNL's tight production schedule (the crew never shot with Christoph Waltz during the day), and the specifics of aping Tarantino's distinctive visual style from a cinematographer's standpoint. This specific sketch required the use of a crane to capture the cinematography of Bob Richardson, Tarantino's go-to DP, which is a rarity for SNL. Buono's entire blog offers insight into the kind of work that goes into a high-stakes, high-pressure production job. The technical advice throughout the blog is invaluable, and it also gives you a real sense of how crazy a real-world shooting schedule actually is. Below you'll find links to the Djesus blog post, the main link to the blog, and the finished sketch!

WARNING: The violence in this is pretty cartoonish, but you may not want to watch it if you're squeamish.

DJesus Uncrossed (Saturday Night Live) from razorgrind on Vimeo.

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