September 27, 2013

'Breaking Bad' will go out looking good 

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Cinematographer Michael Slovis, left, and Bryan Cranston work on the set of "Breaking Bad." The series finale will air Sunday.

2012 Associated Press File Photo / AMC

You would have a hard time finding many stylistic links between "Breaking Bad" and some of Slovis' other credits, which include "CSI" (for which he won an Emmy), "Fringe," AMC's short-lived noir thriller "Rubicon," and lighter fare including "Running Wilde" and "Royal Pains." (Nor his additional credits as a director, which range from four episodes of "Breaking Bad" to "Chicago Fire" and "30 Rock.")
Instead, he said he strives to let each project suggest its own look.

Now 58, Slovis is soft-voiced and lanky, with a head whose baldness rivals Walt White's in Heisenberg mode.

He got the photography bug while growing up in Plainview, N.J., where he became the school photographer and won a state photography contest. He was invited to study at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

He imagined himself a fine-arts photographer but he loved movies and storytelling, and, after graduate school at New York University, he landed jobs shooting music videos and commercials, then got nibbles from feature films.

But in 2001 he found movie offers drying up, and, though he had never seen TV in his future, he gratefully accepted a call from the NBC series "Ed."

The timing was terrific. For decades, TV's hasty, assembly-line production schedule proved an obstacle to giving a series its own visual style.

"Film had been just a way to record the TV picture," Slovis said. A further barrier to getting too creative was the low resolution and squarish shape of the old TV receivers, which conversely had a negative impact on theatrical films, whose wide-screen format was forced to conform (with lots of medium and close-up shots) to movies' eventual small-screen telecast.

Slovis hails pioneering exceptions such as "Twin Peaks," ''Law & Order" and "The X-Files," and credits "CSI" as "one of the first times that cinematography became a real character on a show. TV began changing around us."

Gilligan agreed that "the advent of flat-screen TV really allowed Michael's work to shine in a way it wouldn't have, 20 years ago."

Now the end of "Breaking Bad" is nigh. But through Sunday's final fade-out, Slovis' influence will remain, capturing the "Bad" times you can't turn your eyes from. He's a series star who's out of sight, yet controlling what you see.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)



More PPH Blogs