In an interview elsewhere on this site, director Charles Poekel said he wanted his feature Christmas, Again to look like a “Christmas tree ornament from your attic.” With that directive, what better D.P. to hire than Sean Price Williams? His love of and delicate touch with celluloid — its textures, its organic feel — shine through in such films as Listen Up, Philip and The Black Balloon. And his mobile camerawork and ability to shapeshift to whatever the production environment dictates made him an ideal collaborator for Poekel, who was shooting his first feature in his own Christmas tree stand […]
Do you have to miserable to be funny? That’s the question asked by Kevin Pollak’s, Misery Loves Company, screening at Sundance as a Special Event. And, appropriately for a film containing 50 interviews of funny people ranging from Jimmy Fallon and Judd Apatow to Penn Jillette and Lewis Black, cinematographer Adam McDaid’s job was to work quickly, make the people look good and allow their stories to come through transparently. Below, he talks about all of that as well as what to do when faced with a wall of sun-lit windows. Filmmaker: How and why did you wind up being […]
From Lithuania and screening in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition, The Sound of Sangaile is a film that fuses a teenage girl’s coming-of-age story with a fantasy of flight. With a protagonist obsessed with stunt planes and plenty of aerial photography, Alante Kavaite’s feature posed challenges to cinematographer Dominique Colin — whose credits include, I must note, two masterpieces and personal favorites by Gaspar Noe (Carne and I Stand Alone). Below, Colin discusses those challenges and more. The Sound of Sangaile premieres on Sundance’s opening day, Thursday, January 22. Filmmaker: How and why did you wind up being the cinematographer […]
Following 2014’s Song One and 2013’s Breathe In, cinematographer John Gulesarian returns to Sundance with his third film in three years, The Overnight. Directed by Patrick Brice and starring Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling, the film is set during a long Los Angeles night, one in which a chance encounter between two families leads to what the program calls “a painfully funny take on sexual frustration and parenthood.” The film premieres Friday, January 23 in the Dramatic Competition. Below Gulesarian talks about small crews, practical lights, and how a $10 piece of equipment can save the day. Filmmaker: How and […]
I only faintly recall writing my last entry for Filmmaker Magazine. I was huddled over at some bar at a busy airport, in between jobs and cities I’ve only seen through the windows of a hotel: a cinematographer’s life. I do remember the article was a bit cheeky — I was pretty elated with the success of It Felt Like Love — so I thought this time that to commemorate Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter I’d get down to brass tacks. Here are five things cinematographers don’t talk about. 1. When to Say No Possibly one of the hardest parts of […]
At the end of 2013 I wrote: 2013 wasn’t so much the year of 4K, as the year of “do we need 4K?” For most of the year I was a skeptic, but now I’m starting to think that 2014 will bethe year of 4K. And here we are at the end of 2014 and I look back and think, “I really hit that one out of the park!” Not that it took a lot of genius to read the tea leaves or see the writing on the wall: 2014 was definitely the year of 4K. Whether it was the F5/F55 […]
Here’s an elegant and understated supercut from Jacob T. Swinney, scored with a meditative cue by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Alongside some of the big Hollywood titles — Interstellar, Godzilla — are a number of indies and foreign films like Blue Ruin, Ida and White Bird in a Blizzard. Check it out.
Last week, Robert Greene posted a “virtually unseen” mid-length documentary, shot and edited by Sean Price Williams in 1998, entitled Frantic Fran’s Jewish Stuff. Three years before the cinematographer’s first official credit, and nine years before his quasi-breakthrough with Frownland, the 16mm film presages the close-ups and striking compositions that earned Williams some of the best notices of his career with this year’s Listen Up Philip. And it’s pretty entertaining, as well.
Located in the nearly unpronounceable Polish town of Bydgoszcz, Camerimage – the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography – is the must-attend event of the year for DPs, aspiring DPs, or any cinephile prizing visual craft over auteur theory. At this 22-year-old fest, folks like Caleb Deschanel (who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, a retrospective, and a massive hardcover book highlighting his career) and Vilmos Zsigmond are the stars, complete with their names in lights on the marquee of the massive Opera Nova, the festival’s headquarters and main venue on the scenic Brda River. Far from passive honorees, […]
As a two dimensional medium, film employs a handful of techniques to convey a greater depth of field than what exists in a given frame. In this handy video, cinematographer Matthew Rosen breaks down his five favorite ways to highlight depth, through lighting, focus, perspective, parallax, and occlusion. The dolly effect, which Rosen argues is perhaps most effective in relating depth of field to an audience, is in fact a combination of parallax and occlusion.