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8. Podcast: Conversation with DP Charles Papert – Key & Peele, American History X, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

If you’ve spent any time around professional DPs and cinematographers, it’s difficult not to come across the name Charles Papert. That’s because he’s been a staple in some of the most popular and best-loved television shows and movies of the past twenty years. As a camera operator, he’s been an integral part of the industry shooting such features as American History X, Office Space, and such television shows as The Drew Carey Show, The West Wing, Scrubs and the list goes on and on.

In this podcast, we discuss his humble beginnings in his hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts, making videos with his friends to working on professional productions and finally making the move to Los Angeles. An early adapter of new cinema technologies, Papert was there at the start of the DSLR revolution, later returning to more professional cinema cameras once the technology had evolved.

Jordan Peele, Charles Papert and Keegan-Michael Key on the set of Key and Peele

Papert’s interest in tech has always been dictated by practicality and necessity, rather than fandom, as is the case with so many shooters these days.

A comparison of The Empire Strikes Back (top) and Key and Peele’s “Lando’s Fan”

Probably no production stretched his creativity and ingenuity more than Key & Peele.  The show went to such lengths to parody existing productions that it was dependent upon Papert as DP to emulate such films as “Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back” with meager means.

DP Charles Papert with the Panasonic Varicam LT

Papert also talks about his adoption of the Panasonic VariCam LT for its reproduction of skin tones and its low light capabilities.

A selfie-teleprompter invented and created by DP Charles Papert for season two of the series “Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television”

Currently, Papert returns as DP for the Youtube Premium series “Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes“, a crime procedural parody where performers play themselves and spoof YouTubers. Showing his ingenuity, Papert actually created a rig that houses an iPhone for recording and another iPhone which is used as a teleprompter. See the pictures above, but you’ll want to listen to the entire podcast as Papert describes why and how he created this rig which was actually laser printed into existence and is currently used on the second season of the show.

Always interesting as well as charming, I have to say this is one of our best podcasts to date, and even if you only have a fleeting interest in film production, you won’t want to miss our conversation with Charles Papert in this eighth episode of the Indie Shooter Podcast.

To find out more about Charles Papert, go to his website at

To find out more about the Panasonic Varlicam LT, go to their website at

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Written by Clint Milby

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