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Photograph by Richard Kern

Jenniphr Goodman's The Tao of Steve and Myles Connell’s The Opportunists were two of the more striking- looking films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Although they differ dramatically – one exploits the expansive landscape of Sante Fe, N.M., as backdrop for a philosophical romantic comedy; the other portrays the idiosyncracies of an outer-borough auto mechanic (and reformed safecracker) with incisive neighborhood detail. They were both shot by the same cinematographer, Teodoro Maniaci.

Since graduating from N.Y.U. film school in 1990, Maniaci has built a DP reel distinguished as much by its high quality as by the eclectism of its styles.

"If you look at the films I’ve shot," Maniaci says, "you’d be hard-pressed to say there’s a single person behind them. They're all really different looking, different styles of filmmaking. Lodge Kerrigan’s Claire Dolan, for instance, is an incredibly formal art film with very precise, almost geometric sort of chrome-and-glass photography. It’s very voyeuristic. Whereas in The Opportunists the camera is invisible. The shots are carefully chosen, but the film is not about the camerawork. It doesn't call attention to itself."

Pressed to characterize his approach, Maniaci explains, "My style is highly adaptive. I try to create a look that’s appropriate for each film. It’s not about me attaching myself [to a project] and it becoming about me. It’s about me becoming part of it – trying to figure out what that project wants to be. Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven, for instance, was very intense and gritty" – the polar opposite of Claire Dolan. "Michael Benson’s Predictions of Fire, on the other hand, is a highly stylized propaganda film for a political art movement, and Bette Gordon’s Luminous Motion is a strange psychodrama with surreal overtones."

Asked if there’s a particular film genre he hasn’t yet explored that would intrigue him, Maniaci – who recently wrapped production on Myra Paci’s debut feature, Searching for Paradise – answers, "I’d love to do a sci-fi rocker film. We need a good sci-fi rocker movie!"

Teodoro Maniaci is represented by Kara Baker-Young at the Gersh Agency.


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