Articles about my work
Once upon a time, the Saturday Night Live Film Unit –— those responsible for the fake commercials, shorts, title sequences and pre-recorded elements used in sketches — shot on 35mm film stock.
On the surface that doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you take into account that they were shooting on Friday for a Saturday show, you realize the implications: films labs, telecine sessions and other time-intensive steps. Alex Buono, one of the Film Unit’s primary DPs for the past 12 seasons, remembers it as an “incredibly challenging” workflow.
Saturday Night Live. A weekly network television tradition. An iconic proving ground for generations of top comedic entertainers. The basic format of SNL hasn't changed much since its debut in 1975: topical humor about what's happening at the moment. The opening sketch ends with "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" Cue the opening title sequence, applause and guest monologue. "We've got a great show for you tonight," is followed by a commercial parody. Enter the SNL Film Unit, where Alex Buono has served as a director of photography since the late 1990s. Almost every week, the Film Unit team is faced with shooting a parody commercial spot that will need to emulate the original as closely as possible, but with a far smaller budget, crew, resources and, most significantly, far less time.
Inside Alex Buono's Toolkit: Shooting 'Saturday Night Live''s Digital Shorts
When a television show runs for more than 37 years, it must be doing something right. Such is the case with NBC’s Saturday Night Live. And when the same director of photography remains involved in the show for more than a decade, he must be just as successful.
Alex Buono shoots an SNL short
Alex Buono joined the show in 1999, having worked as a cinematographer and producer on a number of films. His current role involves working with the show’s film unit, which shoots pre-taped segments for the otherwise live production.
"Alex isn't a cinematographer, he's an artist. He doesn't just get the shot, he makes the shot."
Writer/Director (Homeland, Chicago Fire, Traitor)