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Panavision Lenses Reveal Humor and Melancholy in ‘Crashing’

The semi-autobiographical HBO series "Crashing" follows stand-up comedian Pete Holmes as he struggles to make it in New York City.

The semi-autobiographical HBO series Crashingfollows stand-up comedian Pete Holmes as he struggles to make it in New York City. Recently renewed for a second season, Crashing is the creation of Holmes, who also stars, and Judd Apatow, who executive produced and directed two episodes.

“Pete is a deeply funny man and there is levity to the material, but it’s also melancholic,” says cinematographer Sam Levy, who shot five episodes. “We wanted the photography to be cinematic, to help the show sing. Shooting on film with Panavision glass allowed us to tease out this glowing, golden image that was perfect for the character and the story.”

The lens package included Panavision Primo Primes, Primo Zooms and Primo Compact Zooms.

Sam Levy

“I tested many of Panavision’s older lenses, but the Primos put the image in the right place to capture the melancholy while maintaining a classic feeling. It all coalesced: the Primo glass, the Kodak emulsion. It just felt right. It’s very friendly and gentle, and Judd really responded intuitively to the roll-off, from tack sharp to out of focus.”

Levy adds, “The benefit of shooting film is that you’re already in a place where flares are softer, with less punch. The Primos are not designed to flare aggressively and I loved that for crafting the shots on Crashing. I wanted it to look sensational, but I wanted to keep the viewer engaged. When there’s a moment of levity, the viewer needs to be able to laugh with Pete.”

Learn more: Panavision interview with cinematographer Sam Levy about his work on Crashing

Twitter links:

Panavision on Twitter: Follow @Panavision

Pete Holmes on Twitter: Follow @peteholmes

Judd Apatow on Twitter: Follow @JuddApatow

HBO on Twitter: Follow @HBO