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Cinematically Recreating the Life Of Mike Tyson - DP Brendan Uegama, CSC


April 26, 2023

Finding the Frame welcomes back its first guest, director of photography Brendan Kuroki Uegama, CSC, to talk about his nominations in three different categories by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers. His nominations are for Half Hour Drama on Hulu’s unauthorized Mike Tyson biopic miniseries, Mike, Music Video Cinematography on Drake’s “Falling Back”, and Dramatic Series Cinematography on CW’s hit drama series Riverdale.

In the interview, Brendan Uegama discusses his collaboration with Director X, what inspired their approach, the technical choices they made, and how they recreated the world where one of the world’s most dangerous and notorious boxers became a legend.

The series is like a vignette leaping from one time period and event to the next. The way it’s structured, a fight might take place for two or three minutes in an episode, then Tyson breaks the fourth wall or the free-flowing narration moves the plot along.

Brendan Uegama and the filmmakers faced many challenges to an otherwise straightforward production. Filming was at the height of COVID which complicated the workflow and limited the resources available. Uegama chalks their success up to the production team and how they kept the ball rolling with the logistics.

For their two episodes, Brendan Uegama and Director X’s approach began with shotlisting everything in both scripts. Then, in production, they would walk around with their phones and previz all the angles before committing to them. Uegama typically prefers to use a real viewfinder with the lens, but with a tight schedule, their phones were the ultimate device to keep them on the same page.

Mike Tyson may not be the largest fighter but he’s an enormous presence and personality packed into a squat 5 feet 11 inches. Uegama conveyed that large presence by keeping the camera low on Trevante Rhodes.

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