Local 'Carol' crew waits, hopes for Oscar gold

Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-28 17:14:27-05

When Oscar winners thank long lists of people, viewers may be bored, but those who work in movies know what they are talking about.

It takes hundreds of people to make a movie like “Carol,” which is nominated for six Academy Awards, and even the simplest work must meet rigorous standards to create an Oscar-worthy film.

Those jobs come with huge pressure and unexpected frustrations. (On “Carol,” which was filmed in Cincinnati in 2014, several people found their names misspelled or missing entirely from the credits at the end of the movie. Even the full name of the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission was wrong.) Even so, competition for those jobs is fierce.

Scores of local people who worked on the production of “Carol” will be pulling for multiple wins, and some of them have a special interest. If cinematographer Edward Lachman or costume designer Sandy Powell collects a statue, everyone who worked in their departments will share a bit of the glory. We asked some local camera and costume crew members to share their thoughts on what the project means to them.

Carla Shivener, costume designer
Lives in: Oakley
Job on “Carol”: Costumes for extras
Other local credits: “Tiger,” “A Christmas Melody” (as personal costumer to Mariah Carey), “I Am Wrath” (personal costumer to John Travolta), “Miles Ahead,” “Draft Day,” “Ides of March.” Upcoming: “To Make Heaven Weep” and “Babylon.” (She has more than 40 film and TV credits.)
“Carol” as a professional experience: "It was great to work under Sandy Powell. ... David Davenport is also an extremely organized costume supervisor. Sometimes they do not get the glory that they deserve. I think we had 17 people in our department, and it ran like a well-oiled machine. All of the Ohio costumers can be proud of that. I've worked in costuming since 1994 and I never stop learning."
Best memory: "Cate Blanchett's thank-you email to the entire crew, that said in part, 'I just wanted to reiterate what a pleasure it was to work with you on this film. It was an intense shoot and I greatly appreciated your generosity, good humour and talents.'”
Oscar night plans: “I will be at home in my pajamas with Champagne and popcorn watching the red carpet and the Oscars with my mom -- a tradition.”

Jeff Barklage, cinematographer
Lives in: Milford
Job on “Carol”: "B" camera operator and second unit director of photography. “I was responsible for shooting away from the main unit. They would send director Todd Haynes and myself out with an abbreviated crew, to shoot … cars traveling on roads, Rooney Mara and Sarah Paulson pulling off the road to vomit, desolate stretches of winter farm fields with Cate's car driving through the scenes, shots of city signs, etc.”
Other local credits: “Miles Ahead,” “The Blunderer” (now titled “A Kind of Murder”), “A Christmas Melody” (as director of photography).
“Carol” as a professional experience: “'Carol' was different from the very start. It was a work of art and heavy emphasis was placed on everyone to make this a true showpiece. We had first-rate department heads and many, many Oscar-nominated personnel. Ed Lachman was very exact in the look he and Todd Haynes wanted and made sure they got it. This meant a lot of extra careful work by everyone. I found the wrath of Ed a few times myself when he felt my framing wasn't exactly what he wanted.”
Best memory: “During a winter day's shooting in one of the Hyde Park mansions, we were all crammed into this huge dining room with almost the full crew. I was stuck into a corner of the room, jammed between furniture with my camera, and I just happened to glance around the room and noticed that the vast majority of the humans around me were my local Ohio crew friends. It was really amazing to see top-notch Hollywood pros surrounded with local crew!”
Oscar night plans: “I would love to spend that night at home with my family, but I fear I will be watching it from a hotel TV as I'm off to another shoot.”

Travis Geiger, multiple crew positions 
Lives in: Los Angeles. Originally from Maineville.
Job on “Carol”: cinematographer's assistant (assistant to Ed Lachman). Also helped scout locations during pre-production, driving director Todd Haynes, Lachman and others to “hundreds of different locations around the city.”
Other local credits: Don Cheadle's assistant on “Miles Ahead.” Producer's assistant on upcoming “The Great Wall” with John Travolta. “I spent a lot of time filming in Beijing last year, but I much prefer working in Cincinnati.”
“Carol” as a professional experience: “Life-changing. … It is a film of the highest caliber and gave me the opportunity to meaningfully collaborate with some of film's greatest living artisans. … (Also) It was a family atmosphere. When we weren't shooting, the cast and crew could be hanging out together at Reds games or getting a drink at Arnold's.”
Best memory: “Getting breakfast with Ed Lachman downtown every Sunday, then going up to our Carew Tower production office to watch the footage from the previous week. Since we were shooting on film (instead of digital media) it was our first good look at the images. … I specifically remember the first time we watched the takes of Rooney gazing through the rain-soaked window of a taxi cab. Ed and I turned to each other in silence and shared a look that said, 'Wow, this film might really be as special as we all thought.'”
Oscar night plans: "Inviting a house full of friends to a Cincinnati West Oscar party."

Mary Eagan Murphy, costumer
Lives in: Alexandria, Ky.
Job on “Carol”: Costumer. “The costumers do all the behind-the-scenes preparation for each day.
We fit over 400 people in multiple period costumes.”
Other local credits: “Miles Ahead,” “The Blunderer" ('A Kind of Murder”), “Goat,” “A Christmas Melody.”
Best memory: “My favorite part of working on 'Carol' was that Sandy Powell had her hand in everything. She worked with the crew so we understood the big picture. When it all came together, it looked the way it does – beautiful.”

Michael JC "Woo" Wooten, cinematographer
Lives in: West Chester
Job on “Carol”: Assistant camera operator
Other local credits: “Miles Ahead,” “Marauders,” “Goat,” “Funhouse Massacre.”
Best memory: “Working with older super-16mm cameras, and seeing all of the familiar friendly faces of our local and regional crew working.”
Oscar night plans: “I may attend the event the Cincinnati Film Society is hosting.” (At Tillie's Lounge in Northside.)

Jaclyn Laravie, costumer
Lives in: Dayton, Ohio
Job on “Carol”: Costume production assistant
Other local credits: “Miles Ahead,” “A Kind of Murder (The Blunderer),” “Goat,” “A Christmas Melody,” “I Am Wrath”
“Carol” as a professional experience: “It was a dream to work on 'Carol.' I had greatly admired Sandy Powell for all of her work and talent, so the opportunity to work in her department on such a beautiful film was incredible. Our costume supervisor David Davenport was equally amazing. Both Sandy and David were not only talented beyond compare, but kind and willing to share all of their knowledge and wisdom."
Best memory: “The opportunity to work with other local talent in the wardrobe department. So often commercially we work alone or with only one other person. Working on the movies that have come to Ohio we have all been able to get to know one and other better and learn and grow together within the industry.”
Oscar night plans: “To watch the Oscars with my mom, who also worked on 'Carol' as the head of background (extras) makeup. ... A win for Costume Design for 'Carol,' in a way, is a win for all of us who worked in the department and a win for Cincinnati.”