The new ABC comedy “Better Off Ted,” produced by 20th Century Fox, stars Jay Harrington as a company R&D man and Portia de Rossi as his boss. It is shot by DP Brandon Mastrippolito, an experienced cinematographer whose credits include the shows “Swingtown” for CBS and “Veronica Mars” for UPN. Mastrippolito began his career shooting commercials in 1999 and he has since shot “several hundred” more, including spots for Mercedes and Adidas (both won AICP awards), Ford, Brinks and the Sylvan Learning Center.
Tell us about the show. Where do you shoot and what are the main challenges for you?
It’s a very funny show about corporate America and how the employee is brought down by the company. The schedule is the biggest challenge, making the days and within the budgeted time. We’re on 11-hour days, which is fairly short by movie standards. We shot the pilot at LA (Los Angeles) Center Studios last year, and we’re in the middle of the first season at the same studios. We shoot on the 10th floor overlooking downtown –– to give us that corporate office look –– and there are 110 windows, so we’re constantly dealing with the challenges of the sun and all those windows, which we look out of constantly. The sun moves, and today we had clouds, so that’s tough. We also work on stages, which we can control, and we have to make it look like outside. But we never go off the set. We’re always in the office, except when we see them at home.
What camera gear do you use?
We shoot in HD and I use a Panavision Genesis with Primo lenses, and our lighting package is mainly Kino Flo. I use the Genesis as it’s simply one of the best HD cameras around. I’ve worked a lot in HD, and I also own a RED ONE camera. So we use the Genesis for everyday shooting and then my RED camera for all the high-speed work, with Zeiss Super Speed lenses. We also use cranes and a remote head, [and] a [J.L.] Fisher 23 crane, and we use Steadicam with the Genesis a lot for when the characters walk and talk. And we also use a Garfield mount on the dolly quite a bit, for attaching the Steadicam to the dolly.
Where do you get the camera package from?
We rent the Genesis from Panavision, and I have the RED camera. Then we rent the lighting package from Cinelease, and the gaffer, Elan Yaari, also owns a lot of gear.
Are you enjoying the experience?
Absolutely. As I said, it’s very funny and it’s the first show I’ve been on where everyone involved wants to read the script and find out what’s going on in the next episode, as it’s so funny. Even the grips want to read the scripts, and usually crew guys don’t want to read scripts. That tells you a lot. So it’s been a great experience thanks to the cast, directors and producers. It’s just a great team of creatives on this show.
LA (Los Angeles) Center Studios