In this dynamic retelling of the seminal musical West Side Story, Steven Spielberg takes us to the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the mid-20th century as young lovers Tony and María forge a romance amid a hotbed of racial and economic tension. The film stars Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, and Rachel Zegler, with a script by Tony Kushner.
Principal photography on Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of West Side Story wrapped in September of 2019. More than two years later, it finally arrived in theaters to rave reviews praising the cast, the direction, and—in particular—the camera work. It’s a film that preserves the beating heart of the original story while at the same time pushing its style towards something much more bold and cinematic.
Camera Operator magazine got together with A camera operator Mitch Dubin, SOC, and Steadicam operator Buzz Moyer, SOC, to talk about what went into taking on a big, classical musical like West Side Story, something Steven Spielberg has said he’s wanted to do for the better part of two decades.
In this conversation, we talked about what went into making the film’s striking opening shot, the specific challenges of shooting elaborate dance sequences, and trying to work while fighting back tears during some of the film’s most emotionally intense scenes.