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Q&A with Matt Ardine, Gaffer of “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Matt Ardine is a gaffer and lighting designer, having worked in the film industry since 2005 after graduating from Emerson College. Matt has a wealth of experience under his belt and has been a part of IATSE Local 728 since 2006. In that time, Matt has been working on various projects, including commercials, music videos, broadcast concerts, episodic television, and feature films. Matt’s impressive list of credits includes one of the most visually compelling movies of 2022, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” and “Ghost in the Shell.” Matt is a highly versatile professional who can work as a Lighting Designer for specific concert or musical scenes or as the Gaffer for an entire film such as “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Matt Ardine was tasked with executing a unique vision for the lighting of “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Matt and his long-time colleague, Cinematographer Larkin Seiple (both Emerson classmates), worked together to capture the look and feel of the many multiverses featured in the film. Matt was responsible for coming up with an effective plan for achieving the numerous lighting effects that had been identified.

Gaffer Matt Ardine and the Lighting Crew of “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Photo courtesy of Matt Ardine.

Please describe the pre-production process for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
I had very little preproduction on this movie. The only thing I had time to do was scout locations and one day of camera tests.  Being that we were mainly one location, we were able to keep it pretty simple and prep on a day-by-day basis.

What did your collaboration with the VFX team look like?
VFX created the video animations that we would play through our video projectors for the elevator scene. The directors are very VFX savvy, so they were able to tell us exactly what was expected of us to make the final composite work.

What gear did you use to power lights and manage data?
We had the first demo units of RatPac Controls Unity, which we loved. We also had a dozen or so RatPac Controls PDB’s which were our main way to distribute data and power.

In the interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Larkin shared: “For most of it, we embraced the natural fluorescents, but there’s a whole sequence where [the film’s multiverse destroying villain Jobu Tupaki is first revealed in their universe and her and Michelle have a very awkward fight/conversation. For that one, we swapped out the whole hallway, put in Titans and spent about two days programming all these different lighting moves to flicker and change into rainbows to show Jobu flexing her power.” Please share the challenges and interesting solutions to lighting, powering, and controlling this scene.
We replaced a hallway existing fluorescent with Titans. It’s a pretty simple install, but we didn’t want to mess with wireless DMX, so they were all cabled back to Titan Boxes, where they received a hard line of DMX. Inga Mitinyan controlled them on a GrandMA3 console.

Was there another scene that was challenging for your team to light and control? Share details. 
The additional photography involved a set we built out of video walls. PRG did an article about it.

What solution or part of this project makes you the most proud of?
It’s a complex movie that covers many genres and themes. I love the movie myself and am so proud that it is so well received.

Given all the recent attention and awards, did it change the way you feel about the movie?
I thought we were just making a weird movie that would appeal to a niche of people but I love that so many different types of people are embracing the movie. Also, I’ve been working with Daniels for 12 years now. I’m so happy to see the Daniels get the recognition that they deserved.

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