Check Mate: 'Pawn Sacrifice' DP Bradford Young Makes Chess Cinematic

"I hadn't photographed a film like 'Pawn Sacrifice' before," the cinematographer notes, describing it as, "a film in which there was a fine line between drama and adventure."
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Bryan Abrams interviews cinematographer Bradford Young the Ed Zwick-directed, Bobby Fischer-themed film, Pawn Sacrifice, for The Credits. 

"I hadn't photographed a film like Pawn Sacrifice before," the cinematographer notes, describing it as, "a film in which there was a fine line between drama and adventure. I was thinking of the life of Bobby Fischer as an adventure, one in which the guy was trying to be great at the sport he played. So visually it involved both trying to make something light and something moody. And since the story was spanning 50 years of a person’s life, I had to be so much more conscious of time.

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Cinematographer Bradford Young on the set of Bleecker Street's Pawn Sacrifice. Photo by Takashi Seida

"I was really inspired by mid-century modern design and architecture. The color, space, line. The simplicity of the design of that time. So minimal and specific––so much more so than the eras that came before and after it. I wanted to find a way to bring that sensibility to the film visually. Every light you see in the film lit the film, whether it is a lamp on a table or the lights above the chess matches. There were very few scenes in which we actually brought lights."

Take a look at some of his handiwork in the trailer below:


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