Notarile’s commute takes him to galaxies far, far away

| April 28, 2022 | 0 Comments

CINEMATOGRAPHER Crescenzo Notarile lines up a shot on the set of “Star Trek: Picard.”                   Photo by Dennys Ilic

Talk about a commute: For the last five years, cinematographer Crescenzo Notarile of Windsor Square has been working in the 32nd century. Or perhaps the 25th century. It all depends on which iteration of the Paramount+ Star Trek television series he happens to be shooting.

How does Notarile, a 34-year resident of Beachwood Drive, feel about shining a light on arguably the most famous franchise in all science fiction? Since the future always begins with a past, his story starts in Sicily, where he was born, and Brooklyn, New York, where he was raised.

As the child of a noted advertising art director whose work can be found in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection, Notarile has happy memories of hanging out in an art studio at a very young age with the likes of legendary photographer Richard Avedon: “I was seeing flash umbrellas, strobe lights, beautiful girls… It was exciting. I knew I wanted to be a photographer since I was five.”

By that time, he was developing his own photographs taken on a little plastic Brownie camera given to him by his father. His obsession only deepened, and after high school, on the strength of his photography, he won a scholarship to NYU – a university famous for its film school. One of his professors urged him to turn one of his photo essays into a short film, which was so well-received by the rest of the class that Notarile was hooked, deciding “I wanted to be involved in that world.”

As it turns out, over the years he has been involved in many worlds – from the antiseptic crime labs and Vegas glitter of CSI on CBS to the shadowy noir streets of FOX’s Gotham. Along the way, he took home an Emmy for his work, and got to discuss film craft with his idol, the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. But nothing quite prepared him for the challenges of lighting outer space.

“Usually, when you’re reading a script, the first thing you see is whether a scene is taking place in day or night conditions,” he explains, “but with sci-fi, there’s no day or night. It’s all night. But space is not just black. You got planets out there, you got stars, moons, suns. All this affects interior scenes also.” Realizing the enormity of the job, Notarile chuckles, “I started to hyperventilate a little. I’d never worked in science fiction prior to that. So, I had to catch-up, very fast.”

On Star Trek: Picard, it took eight months to design and build the main set, the starship USS

CINEMATOGRAPHER Crescenzo Notarile on the set of “Star Trek: Picard.”   Photo by Dennys Ilic

Stargazer, with over 10,000 lights embedded in its ceilings, walls, corridors, machinery and passageways…all programmed into a giant dimmer board. And the cinematographer was involved every step of the way: “Pre-production is probably the most important stage of what we do, because when you look over your shoulder and you got 200 people asking, ‘What are we doing?’ – you gotta have a plan.”

So, what are Notarile’s own plans for the future? “I’ve never done a western,” he confesses. “I’d love to do one. But I also love doing sci-fi. I’m hoping to continue with the Star Trek legacy. But as a freelancer, you go where the wind blows.”

For now, he enjoys rediscovering his own little world on Beachwood Drive, working on a book of poetry, and spending quality time with fiancée Cary Trampf and a dog named (naturally) Kodak. But for him, the call of the camera lens will always be there:

“There is something magical about how light refracts through the glass.”

It can even illuminate the stars.

By  Ron Mulligan


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Category: Entertainment

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