Spotlight Interview: The Rookie Cinematographer Johanna Coelho

Spotlight is ComingSoon’s interview series with below-the-line and/or up-and-coming talent in the world of television and film. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on the varied positions that make the entertainment you love possible rather than focusing purely on actors and directors.

ComingSoon’s Jeff Ames spoke with multi-talented cinematographer Johanna Coelho about her work on Season 4 of ABC’s The Rookie.

Coelho has worked as a cinematographer on a number of diverse projects, including award-winning narrative films, music videos, and TV Shows. She has worked with renowned companies such as Netflix, ABC, Oxygen Network, Hello Sunshine, Scout Productions, MarVista Entertainment, and Hawaiian Tropics. Her recent work includes the TV Shows The Rookie S2 and S4 on ABC, And Then There Was Eve, and Killer Siblings on Oxygen Network.

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Jeff Ames: What led you to become a cinematographer?

Johanna Coelho: As a kid, I couldn’t settle on what I wanted to do for a living, because I wanted to learn it all. Behind the camera, you can explore everything in the world : cultures, jobs, countries, stories, personalities, etc… this is the perfect job to immerse yourself in everybody’s experience, and once I got a taste of it, it felt exactly right.

What was it about The Rookie that made you want to work on it?

I loved the idea of shooting an action show, involving a lot of stunts and special effects. I feel as a woman cinematographer, we don’t get this opportunity very often. The Rookie also has a great range of genres, and it definitely keeps it exciting visually as a cinematographer.

What was the most challenging aspect of The Rookie and how did you overcome that?

The Rookie Season 4 is a multiple-camera show and has a tight schedule with many pages to shoot per day. It can make it challenging to keep it very cinematic. The key was to find a good system to place three cameras when possible that works for lighting, in addition to a good prep beforehand. Another challenging aspect is the length of the show; 22 episodes shoot for a long time, so coffee has been a lifesaver.

Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of The Rookie?

Fans of the shows have probably noticed the BodyCams shots throughout each episode. These shots are actually made with real police BodyCams, and the actors are the actual camera operators on these shots, as they wear them. The actors had a lot of fun framing for these shots, and even battled for who did the best one!

Another fun fact is that the house’s explosion scene on Season 4 Episode 6 was done practically with our amazing special effects team on the Warner Bros Ranch lot. The explosion itself was very impressive to watch, not only on screen but also on set. By the way, we had over eight cameras rolling on that setup.

What were some of the things you learned from The Rookie that you’re excited to apply to future endeavors?

I have definitely learned a lot about the LAPD world on this show. Our cast is being constantly trained on set by a retired police officer consultant, to keep the action as realistic as possible. I feel more comfortable in many aspects of uncommon shooting situations (such as shooting in a helicopter, big exterior nights, fire situations), and being creative repeatedly on the same standing sets.

Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?

I have a few opportunities coming up, but nothing confirmed yet. I’m looking forward to my next adventure though!

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