“As a cinematographer, I was always attracted to stories that have the potential to be told with as few words as possible.” — Reed Morano

“I feel like directing is more about who the individual is rather than if they’re a man or a woman. It’s kind of hard to generalize and group all of us female filmmakers into one group, like we’re all going provide you with the same thing, because we’re not. We’re all individuals.”
— Reed Morano

Louder for the people in the back.

Reed Morano started out as a cinematographer before segueing to the director’s seat (although she continued to shoot her own films). Because of The Handmaid’s Tale, which was “her” project, or at least “hers” in that she was responsible for setting the tone, mood, and look of the series – Morano’s profile went through the roof. The “look” of Handmaid’s Tale is part of its fascination (although I stopped watching after Season 1 – I had major issues with the adjustments made to the story). But you really can’t find any fault with the feel of that series, its tightly-controlled color scheme, its striking visuals, its claustrophobic close-ups … all of that is Reed Morano’s fingerprint.

I love Reed Morano’s career because it is a good example of “just doing the work”. Just do your work. There will always be bullshit, there will always be naysayers, there will always be obstacles. Take a second to feel bad about it, sure, but move forward and “just do the work”. Be the best possible whatever-it-is that you can be. There are many cinematographers-turned directors, and – similar to all the editors-turned-directors … having this other skill, working a job so crucial to the making of any movie/television show, a job that puts you in intimate contact with the director, serving the director but also serving the story … all of this gives these people an edge. They are accustomed to fulfilling another person’s vision. They are highly skilled at this. They think in pictures and rhythms already. It is the nature of the job. And so once they segue to directing – if they ever do – they have all that knowledge within them. They probably know how to communicate with other departments, they know how to work with cinematographers – since they’ve been one – or editors – since they’ve been one.

I interviewed Reed Morano on the occasion of her directorial debut – Meadowland, starring Luke Wilson, Olivia Wilde, John Leguiziano, Giovanni Ribisi … with Elisabeth Moss in a memorable cameo – and so I felt something almost like pride when everything happened after that, the rise of Handmaid’s Tale as a cultural phenomenon, its fortuitous timing, the rise of 45 and the awful specter of the people in charge who seemed to view Handmaid’s Tale not as a cautionary tale, but a How-To … And Reed Morano was at the helm, establishing the powerful mood and atmosphere and look of that series. I was happy for her. I remembered our conversation, her intelligence, her kindness, her toughness. She deserves all the success.

I loved Meadowland, which I saw at Tribeca in 2015 (its premiere) – Merano shot it as well as directed. I highly recommend it.

Here’s my review of Meadowland.

And here’s my interview with Morano.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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