Despite Death-Defying Race Footage, ‘Ford v Ferrari’ Centers on Characters

Phedon Papamichael has built his reputation as a cinematographer with indie, minimalist shooting for directors like Wim Wenders and Alexander Payne: his work on “Nebraska,” to cite just one case, is a study in stark, deeply ironic black-and-white compositions that center on character contrast.

So when he took up the challenge with director and frequent partner James Mangold to take on “Ford v Ferrari,” a big-budget racecar action film with major stars, the team approached the challenge with Papamichael’s usual dedication to realism.The film, based on the real events leading up to the Le Mans 66 race, has the same kind of character-focused story that has always appealed to the Dp of “Sideways” and “Walk the Line,” he says.“We’re not really action filmmakers,” adds Papamichael about his long career collaboration with Mangold.

“We’re interested in drama.”To Papamichael, despite the intricately planned race sequences, “Ford v Ferrari

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