Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer Talks ‘Miles Ahead’ Project


Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC, checked in from New Orleans, where he is finishing up a project with the working title of Geostorm. He has three more weeks in New Orleans, then a week in Hong Kong, and then he will head to New York to digitally time the independent film Miles Ahead, a crowd-funded Miles Davis project directed and co-written by Don Cheadle, who also plays the famous performer. After that, he plans to return to Los Angeles.

Roberto says Miles Ahead, which was shot in Cincinnati, Ohio, was a tough but terrific experience. About two-thirds of the picture was shot with Arri Alexas. A few scenes in tight spaces, like car interiors, were done with a Canon C500. “We also had a chance to shoot some Super 16 for the scenes that take place in the Fifties and Sixties,” he says. “It was very low budget and very ambitious. We were trying to do some really cool things, and I hope we succeeded. Don and [co-star] Ewan McGregor and all the people there were great to work with. It was good to do some stretching.

Miles Ahead is not a standard biopic, but it incorporates some strange episodes drawn from real life. “It’s kind of like a fever dream,” says Roberto. “We weren’t going for a classic jazz-photography look. We just went for whatever we thought would look cool. It’s kind of a period feel, but not painfully so. It was a fun experiment.”

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Photo: Brian Douglas