An Shu’s greatest skill is her imagination. In no way does this statement minimize her talent as a cinematographer but it’s the manner in which she is able to conceptualize imagery inside her head and then manifest it through the camera that makes her such a remarkable artist. Many people can capture beautiful images but those like An who create emotionally transfixing moments, these people are rare. When director Joshua Akin and producer Patrick Michael pitched her the idea of being the DP for Jurassic Punk, it was with the confidence that An Shu would infuse the visual identity of the film with this same striking skill.

Jurassic Punk answers the question, where do old punk rockers go? In the 1970s, Danny Brooklyn was the walking embodiment of bleeding knuckles, middle finger waving, expletive fueled punk. His anarchistic ethos was so staunch that the members of the band which he fronted kicked him out to pursue a more mainstream sound; one which led them to be one of the most successful musical acts of the 1980s. The experience served to steel Danny’s commitment to rebellion even though he fathered a daughter and aged through the following four decades. In present day, Brooklyn finds himself estranged from said daughter and in a constant state of bitterness. When his old band announces a reunion tour, the aged punk singer decides to seize his moment in the spotlight by crashing the show and unleashing his anger. The true message of the film is about forgiveness and family rather than revenge. The question is whether Danny Brooklyn will cling to his belief system or the love of his daughter.

Bold, wide ranging color palettes, extreme angles, wide lens close-ups, and an abundance of handheld movements present the 1970s and present day action of the film. The story is engaging and the cinematography is an undeniable catalyst for this throughout the film. An Shu informs, “We knew the movie was going to be fast-cutting in some scenes, but the shots chosen were still very intentional. Shooting Jurassic Punk was really a fulfilling experience for me as a cinematographer having gotten the chance to juggle a fast-paced motif across so many locations. It was tough but very rewarding.”

An Shu behind the camera for Jurassic Punk

One of the most astonishing aspects of the film is the presentation of the 1970’s. In addition to the locations and costumes, the visual approach is remarkable in taking on the personality of films of this era. Though shot in digital, grain was added in post to infuse these scenes with a vintage sheen. Young Danny (portrayed by Philip Alexander of Disney+’s Primetime Emmy Award Winning series The Mandalorian) is a stark contrast to his modern day iteration when the camera transitions between these timelines. An Shu relates, “I did a lot of research. I also studied a lot of photographs from that era; not just music photography but also looking at general photographic trends of that time and how it emphasized the images themselves. This gave me insight into how people moved or felt or dressed — all things that were very useful for thinking about how to photograph the film as authentically as possible.” Beyond the general mood of the 70s, An Shu has found the tone to convey how an aging anarchist is forced to come to terms with an unselfish love. In doing this, she has given life to Danny Brooklyn and cemented his maturation.

Writer: Luigi Paglia

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