The 96th Annual Academy Awards: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Cinematography and Directing

27 Mar 2024

5 Min Read

The 96th Academy Awards ceremony is set to broadcast live on ABC on March 10th, 2024. As the biggest night in Hollywood draws near, the production team is hard at work staging what aims to be the most memorable Oscars telecast yet. In this behind-the-scenes sneak peek, we’ll peel back the curtain and take a look at everything that goes into directing and filming the iconic ceremony through the eyes of the creative team bringing the magic to life.

Led by acclaimed executive producer and late night host Jimmy Kimmel alongside showrunner Raj Kapoor and fellow EPs Molly McNearney and Katy Mullan, this year’s Oscars production staff is a seasoned group of veterans and bright up-and-coming talent. The experience of co-executive producer Rob Paine and talent producer Taryn Hurd is complemented by producers Sarah Levine Hall, Erin Irwin, and Jennifer Sharron who lend their creative voices. Legendary musical director Rickey Minor is back with his 2024 arrangements while lighting designers Bob Dickinson and Noah Mitz make sure the Dolby Theatre dazzles.

Behind the Host: Directing Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel Hosts 96th Academy Awards
The anchor holding this talented team together is host Jimmy Kimmel. Having twice hosted Hollywood’s premier event to great success and acclaim, Kimmel effortlessly guides audiences through the ceremony. According to director Hamish Hamilton, Kimmel’s confidence and quick wit lend well to live directing: “With Jimmy, you know he’s going to deliver no matter what. My goal is to capture those authentic moments while highlighting the glitz and glamour that makes the Oscars so iconic.”

Hamilton elaborated on a few directing choices when working with Kimmel, saying: “During commercials, I’ll keep the cameras rolling on Jimmy so we capture off-the-cuff quips. These end up being viral moments fans love. I also make sure to save lots of close-ups of his reactions for when winners get emotional.” He added, “Jimmy can go off-script at any moment, but that spontaneity is gold for us. As director, I react in real time to catch what he does from all the right angles.”

Cinematic Style: Filming the 96th Oscars Ceremony

Michelle Yeoh (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
While Kimmel holds court on the Dolby Theatre main stage, Hamilton leads a crew of steely cinematographers to infuse the show with cinematic flair worthy of Hollywood’s biggest night. This year’s team of DPs and camera operators features returning lensmen like director of photography Christopher LaVasse as well as promising newcomers, many with experience shooting awards galas, sitcoms, and late night programs.

Hamilton outlined his directorial approach: “The Oscars should feel like a movie, so I storyboard each segment to capture all the emotion. We run seven cameras with lenses customized for gorgeous depth of field and striking visuals. Using sliders, dollies and even drones, my goal is to perfectly frame the drama.” He specifically mentions a high-octane sequence planned for Best Actor: “As we announce the winner, cameras will whip back and forth from nominees’ anxious faces. It’s all about tension – think of Scorsese revealing the Oscar victor like a plot twist.”

While viewers see reaction shots on TV, the live audience enjoys slickly-produced montages and performances broadcast on massive LED walls and satellite stages the crew assembles onsite. To ensure cohesiveness across these elements, Hamilton directs a team monitoring spy feeds backstage: “We track over 50 feeds coming from venues across LA. My guys sit in video village cueing every video, music cue, and camera move so everything lands seamlessly.”

Pulling Back the Curtain

After the monologue, accepting trophies, and hearing “And the Oscar goes to…,” audiences forget hundreds of people work tirelessly so Hollywood’s biggest night appears effortless. From Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes to lens flares streaking across the Dolby, this behind-the-scenes look at directing and filming the 96th Academy Awards pulls back the curtain on the art and technique of Oscars production. Led by director Hamish Hamilton and powered by EP Jimmy Kimmel, this seasoned creative squad is ready to deliver a spectacular show that thrills both the A-list crowd and viewers at home.

So when the lights dim and the Oscar theme crescendos on March 10th, acknowledge the seasoned pros and promising newcomers who frame each heartfelt speech, moving musical number, and uproarious laugh. After all, behind every iconic Oscars moment is an artist ready to capture it.

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