SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Zack Fox: Hello, I am Zack Fox, Winston-Salem, NC based photographer and cinematographer. I served as the cinematographer on Wreak Havoc Productions ‘Uncle Otto’s Truck’ and many other projects with them.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a cinematographer?
Zack Fox: I’ve grew up shooting on my family’s old film camera. It’s aways just been my thing.
SKSM: How do you communicate with a director to design a visual strategy for a film?
Dan and I have developed a nice on set short hand and trust. He lets me take nice creative liberties.
SKSM: You worked with Dan Sellers on this film, what do you think the relationship between a director and a dp should be?
Zack Fox: I pitched an idea of using a weird mixture of Tilt Shift and Wide Angle lenses for the film, shooting on the Canon R. Dan and Sammie completely supported it. I think everyone was very please with how it came out.
SKSM: You worked in a Dollar Baby based on a Stephen King short story. It was your most challenging film?
Zack Fox: The most challenging aspect of the film we were 15 plus miles from any electrical, running water, and zero cell service. The house we shot in had no power. Everything had to be powered by batteries or generators. A single light would attract every bug for 10 miles. But no one complained, everyone had a great time and got the job done.
SKSM: When you’re going to shoot, what are your favorite lenses? formats?
Zack Fox: When shooting for films, my go to favorite camera is the RED Gemini (Although, rarely is it budget friendly) It’s small, mighty, and the dual sensitivity is both the beauty and the beast.
For photography, I have always have in my go bag a Fuji X100F, Canon 5D Mark iii, 24-70mm canon micro, and 70-200mm canon f2.8.
I also modified a kit of 35mm anamorphic film projector lenses into camera lenses, but needless to say – focusing isn’t easy.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Zack Fox: As for special moment… I think the obvious answer is Mike Burke and Devlin Burke – father and son actors playing Otto. I’ve worked with Mike several times and he’s a leading caliber actor. I can definitely say Devlin will be too. For the early parts of the film we have Devlin playing young Otto, later in the film we have his father, Mike. There’s a great scene in the film where you see young Otto change to old Otto, it’s fun to watch the actors change in a blink and see the striking resemblance. It’s nearly seamless. No special events or make up needed to make the audience understand it’s the same character. It’s just father and son. Dan made a great choice when casting both of them.
SKSM: Who are some of your influences (favorite dps/films)?
Zack Fox: My influences for DPs would have to start with Thomas Del Ruth and his extraordinary work on ‘The West Wing’. Some of my core memories of love of filmmaking/cinematography began with this show. Two Cathedrals, Noel and Arctic Radar are among my favorite episodes by him. Another core memory of influence would be when watching 1998’s ‘Meet Joe Black’. Emmanuel Lubezki work on that film still holds up to one of my all time favorites, it inspires me every single time. As for more recent/current work, Greig Fraser has to be my favorite. For one, his cinematography in Rouge One is outstanding and by far, far (away) my favorite work on any Star Wars.
His color palettes, subtle camera movement and lens choices are always flawless. I can get lost in his technique. I can’t wait to see what he does on Disney + for The Mandalorian.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Zack Fox: I’ve honestly never have read the story Uncle Otto’s Truck Story before filming the movie. When Dan first pitched the dollar baby to me I thought it was some kind of evil ‘Tow Mater’ from Disney’s Cars story. After the project was green lit, I read the story. I’ve read many of Kings novels, although my person favorite novel of his is is his memoir, ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’. I really love King’s own story and where he comes from. You learn a lot about him and from him. That’s an excellent book for anyone wanting to get into the ‘arts’ of any kind. I personally used that memoir as more source material and story mind set more than the Skeleton Crew collection.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Zack Fox: I’m finishing up post-production on my new short film that I wrote and directed, Sea Salt Wind. The film is a drama about mistakes, love, flawed people and self-penance. I co-produced the film with Wreak Havoc Productions. We’re planning on shopping this short film around at festivals as a trailer to help find funding for a full feature film version. Uncle Otto’s Truck and Sea Salt Wind’s principal photography were only weeks apart. Michael Burke, Tom Gore, Jennie Stencel all have small cameo roles in this too.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Zack Fox: I’m a co-owner of a movie theater.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Zack Fox: Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoyed the film! You can find more on this film and my other work on Instagram @charmfoxphotowsnc.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Zack Fox: Thanks again!