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Bokelberg Sets the Scene for ‘Scandal’

A dramatic series set in the highest levels of U.S. government, ABC’s Scandal centers on the crisis management firm run by Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), who knows how to fix everyone’s life but her own.

Kerry Washington and Sally Pressman in


. Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC.

Oliver Bokelberg, ASC, BVK, who shoots the show on the ARRI Alexa, plays with subjective and objective camera placement on the show. Using two and sometimes three cameras has prompted him to move beyond standard coverage, he says. In keeping with the secretive subject matter, watching the show often feels like peering in on a conversation from another room.

“It’s as if we are witnessing a real-life scene out of the corner of our eye,” says Bokelberg. “We pick our moments. If a character is crying, we might give them privacy and let them step or turn away from camera. That rings true to me. At other times, when a character is emotionally involved, we might choose a subjective view, to enter their frame of mind and join their journey.”

The camera is almost always moving, usually on a dolly and sometimes with a simultaneous zoom on an Angenieux Optimo zoom lens. “To me, it feels like I’m wrapping around the character, being sucked into his or her frame of mind,” Bokelberg says. “If successful, the zoom becomes imperceptible and doesn’t call attention to the camera work. We jokingly call this our ‘Scandal vortex.’”