Barry Ackroyd Draws Audiences into The Big Short

  • December 23, 2015
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The Big Short follows four unlikely heroes as they expose what the media, government, and big banks refuse to recognize - the future collapse of the global economic system. The movie, directed by Adam McKay and shot by Barry Ackroyd, BSC, features a star-studded cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.

Director Adam McKay on the set of The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

McKay says he read "The Big Short: Inside Doomsday Machine" five years ago. "I started reading the book at around 10:30 p.m. and thought I'd just read 40 pages. I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading the whole thing that night and finished at 6:00 the next morning." That's when McKay decided to make it a point to challenge himself with the film adaptation.

McKay brought Ackroyd aboard the The Big Short for his techniques, praising his ability to constantly create an intimate urgency in scenes. High stakes are a common theme for Ackroyd, who shot the intense, high-seas drama Captain Phillips and earned an Oscar®-nomination for the war thriller The Hurt Locker .

Steve Carell plays Mark Baum in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

"When Adam approached me about doing The Big Short , he referenced United 93 because there's a huge amount of action in that film, yet it's also very confined," recalls Ackroyd. "He and I talked about how to ramp up the energy for scenes of characters talking in offices so that we bring the audience into the middle of the conversation. We want viewers to feel like they're in the room with the subject, so they listen harder to what's being said."

Following the film's theme of teamwork, Ackroyd collaborated very closely with the production and costume designers. It was crucial that every scene and location was brought to life in order keep audiences absorbed in the tech talk of the characters' world and depict the environs of nine years ago.

Christian Bale stars in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Gosling, who plays young slick Wall Street banker Jared Vennett, notes Ackroyd's longtime partnership in working with film and documentary director Ken Loach, who was "as actor-friendly as you can get," states Gosling. Ackroyd would set his camera in a tucked away corner and let the KODAK 35mm film roll, allowing the actors to embody the space of their characters more organically. "Everyone does their best work in that kind of environment," the actor adds.

The Big Short began with a limited release in December, and continues to roll out in theaters around the world.

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