Michael Slovis (DP/Director): We put the camera in some unusual places, which has become part of the language of Breaking Bad. Sometimes the director comes up with an idea after reading through the script, and often it’ll just say on the page: “And now another one of our patented POV shots.”
Michelle MacLaren (Director): In Episode 4.02, I wanted to put the camera on one of those vacuum cleaner things – a Roomba – so it’s the morning after this big party and you see the Roomba in the foreground as it moves across the floor and these characters passed out. It’s the Roomba’s POV, which sounds odd but tells the story of the party and all the drinking that went on. Vince is so supportive about trying things like that, and Mike is great because you can go to him with these crazy ideas and he can make it happen with his wonderful team of gaffers and grips.
Michael Slovis (DP/Director): Though I shoot Breaking Bad in 35 millimeter, these are some of the times we experiment with digital cameras. We’ve used Canon 5D and 7D DSLRs. For the Roomba, the grips fastened a Panasonic HVX 200A to it.
Michelle MacLaren (Director): The property master brought in a remote-control car motor, and the grips built wheels and put the Roomba on top of this little device so they could drive the camera around remotely on the Roomba.
Michael Slovis (DP/Director): Many of these iconic-type shots require the talent and skills of every department. On one episode I directed, we put a 7D on a shovel, looking over the back of the shovel in the trunk of a car as the character grabs the shovel and starts digging. There’s no piece of equipment you can rent for that kind of shot. And you can’t light the way you would for a traditional angle.
If you want to be looking from below as someone brings a plunger down into a toilet, the construction department needs to make a 10-foot high stanchion and a Plexiglas floor. Then the set decorator and prop department will bring in a toilet and make sure it gets fixed to the perfect spot in the Plexiglas, and then it has to be water sealed. Then the special effects department pumps in the water. Meanwhile, the gaffer has to make sure there’s no lighting in the shot or anything reflecting in the Plexiglas.
When people talk about Breaking Bad, they often focus on these strange POV shots, which are mostly about getting the camera into a perspective the viewers know you couldn’t really do. They’re fun to do, but they wouldn’t be nearly as effective if it weren’t for the straightforward way we shoot the really emotional scenes. [SPOILERS AHEAD] A good example is the first episode of Season 3 – the one that starts out with all those people crawling through the desert. One of the characters walks back and shoots the driver of the truck who was crawling away from the scene. And it’s all seen from far away – no strange angles or camera placement. At the end of season 4, when we see Gus walk out of the building, we don’t see that a big part of his face is blown off until he turns, because it’s continuous. These are the kinds of shots that really hit the emotions. (via)