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Taxi Driver


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#1 Marko Vasic

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 04:09 PM

I am looking for technical information about Taxi Driver, does anyone know the specifications? Was it covered in American Cinematographer at any point, and in which issues? Otherwise, what's a good source for learning about the technical side of this movie, an article, a book or a doc, anything? Thanks a lot.
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#2 Dan Goulder

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 04:22 PM

It looks like it was shot on Zeiss MK 1 speeds. It was also push-processed at TVC labs, using their proprietary 'Chemtone' process. I believe both are now defunct.
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#3 Mitch Gross

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 07:28 PM

Somewhere on my bookshelf I have a copy of a great old book entitled "Masters of Light." It's a collection of in-depth interviews with the top cinematographers circa 1980 or so. Michael Chapman speaks at length about shooting "Taxi Driver," noting how the ratings board made them tone doen the reds for the final shooting rampage as it was too bloody. I know they shot that sequence in an abandoned building and carved a long hole pathway in the ceiling for the amazing overhead dolly shot at the end. That book is a great read and I know I learned tons from it.

On a side note, I used to date a woman who was the roomate of Chapman's ex wife. When they split up he left all his old stuff in their Upper West Side apartment -- his scuba gear from operating on "Jaws," tons of notes and funky rigs, and his annotated leather-bound shooting scripts. I remember reading through the "Taxi Driver" script and seeing his drawings of what time of day to shoot Travis sitting in his Taxi looking at Cybil Sheppard so that the light was just right. Cool.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 09:14 PM

Now I'm old enough for "Masters of Light" to have become an old book. I guess it is. I wore out my first copy and had to buy a new one, I read it so many times.

It's probably got the best interview with Chapman on his films, although what's memorable about the interview is that he's the only major DP to take a shot at Storaro, and Ridley Scott too, for their lighting in "Agatha" and "The Duellists" respectively ("pretty Kotex-ad stuff" was his general description, though he was also referring to his own slick commercial work at the time.) His bluntness is sort of refreshing in this industry, though I don't agree with him regarding those two movies.
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#5 Tim Partridge

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 08:13 AM

His bluntness is sort of refreshing in this industry,


I love the GHOSTBUSTERS 2 interview where Chapman was explaining his work while lighting the NY customs building (doubling as the museum exterior). He says something along the lines of (not a direct quote):

"I shine a big lamp at the wall and take a reading with my meter. I then apply that to the aperture. It really isn't brain surgery".
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 08:24 AM

Ironic, I just picked up the Masters of Light book. Amazing read and still worth it!
Funny enough, MR. Mullen, I have one of your books on my shelf too from a film class, though at the moment I forget which one exactly (running on 2 hours of sleep is not conducive to remembering things).
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#7 Mitch Gross

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:18 PM

here's a reason the directors on Chapman-shot films kept casting him in bit parts as obnoxious, tough-talking lawyers or cops. He's a real character.
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#8 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 02:37 PM

Was it covered in American Cinematographer at any point, and in which issues?


No. But I think it was a cover story in Filmmaker's Newsletter'.

Try your local university library.
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 03:03 AM

Somewhere on my bookshelf I have a copy of a great old book entitled "Masters of Light."


Great book...I have every page scanned into a huge pdf file on my computer :)
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#10 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 12:21 AM

Have you seen the special edition DVD? There's a great commentary track with Martin Scorcese and
others about making the movie.
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