Connor Van Bodell | Film Loader
What drew Bodell to cinematography, what fueled his passion for decades, is the psychology imparted to an audience by exact camera placement.
When he first entered the film industry, that passion boiled over into lighting – the delicate balance between naturalistic and emotional subtext. Refined control of the light on a face can shape an audience’s perception of a character.
Bodell gained dual union membership to the International Cinematographers Guild and Motion Picture Grips. He built a career spanning both technical and artistic experience in the camera department as well as dolly gripping, honing the art of camera movement and molding the emotions of an audience with the swell of a delicate push or the power of not moving at all. He drew on this wide-ranging experience in the industry to form the foundation for his cinematography career. Nisei (written and directed by Darren Haruo Rae) follows Haruo Rae’s grandfather, a Japanese-American during World War Two sent to the internment camps with his family, from which he then enlisted with his brother and fought in Europe.
The film was a dream project for Bodell. While the action set pieces were an incredible experience to film, at its heart is a character-driven story that plays upon notions of family dynamics. Haruo Rae and Bodell were dedicated to shooting with a perspective-based approach, opting for the much more subjective experience of the brothers rather than an omniscient view of the film. Once they established a visual language for this, they held each other accountable and this perspective approach dictated the anatomy of each scene.
Bodell is proud of the incredible work everyone poured into this project. “Brandon’s so good, he allows me to build bad habits!” he says of his focus puller Brandon Gong. Key Grip Alex Aligo and Gaffers Jeff Marlowe and Connor Benson brought incredible creative solutions to set every day and helped elevate the project while being patient and informational with the student crew members. John York designed one of the most beautiful sets Bodell has ever stood on and so many more.
“I would be nowhere without the enduring love and support of my family and fiancée, who have championed my career without question,” Bodell says of his loved ones, “and I am so grateful to everyone I have had the honor of collaborating with throughout my career.”