The Judge is David Dobkin’s most recent feature film, a follow-up to hits like Wedding Crashers and The Change-Up. He is a savvy filmmaker, often serving as producer as well as director.
Known for comedies, Dobkin chose a story with strong dramatic potential in The Judge. The heavyweight cast includes Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton and Vincent D’Onofrio. The tale follows a small town judge whose son, a hotshot lawyer, returns home to defend him in a murder trial.
Behind the camera, Dobkin also went with A-list talent. Master cinematographer and two-time Oscar® winner Janusz Kaminski whose credits include Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, Funny People, How Do You Know, War Horse, and Lincoln, among others.
Kaminski calls Dobkin a “serious” filmmaker. “It’s so easy to get labelled in Hollywood,” says Kaminski. “People think that if you make a bona fide comedy, that you’re incapable of anything else. But David is very knowledgeable about film history, and how to wield the medium.”
Kaminski was drawn to the story and the cast. He spent a long preproduction period in the Boston area scouting locations, and says that the resulting familiarity with the settings allowed him to focus more intently on the story during the actual shoot. The main interiors, including the courtroom and some residential spaces, were built on stages.
The majority of the film was shot on Kodak film using three Panavision cameras and lenses.
“I love Panavision,” says Kaminski. “If I have my choice, I always choose Panavision. They have the best cameras, and they have always been fantastically supportive and friendly. And they always provide the highest level of service, accommodating my needs in terms of lenses, including stripping them of coatings when I need that. As far as I’m concerned, Panavision is the best company in terms of providing filmmakers with the tools they need to create.”
Of course, Kaminski is referring to his use of treated and uncoated lenses to create the hard-hitting and memorable imagery of the D-Day beach assault in Saving Private Ryan, among many other innovative uses of altered lenses in his stellar body of work.
Kaminski says that in the case of The Judge, he and Dobkin achieved what they wanted to for the story. “It’s the kind of movies we don’t make anymore,” he says. “It is sentimental, funny, and dramatic, with a happy ending. A man finds out who he is. And David and I had a great collaboration.”