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Looking for New DP


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#1 Ger Leonard

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:43 AM

NOTE: this was originally posted in CINEMATOGRAPHERS FORUM and was then moved to JOBS, REELS, RESUMES... I hope its ok that i'm posting here also as really what i'm looking for here is suggestions... thanks

I am a writer/director whose DP has become unavailable for my first feature in Ireland.

Having built up a strong relationship over the last 3+ years and feeling very much in tune on a project that we are both passionate about and share a vision for, my Hungarian DP has had to commit himself to another feature film.

I know he struggled with this decision and I understand and respect his choice. He needs to shoot one feature a year along with commercials, shorts etc or else "he goes nuts". and last year none of his features were made. As he has shared our many false dawns and frustrations, (testing our patience but never wavering in our belief in this film) and knowing that despite our commitment to finally go into production this year, on a budget ranging between 1m and 1.4m euro instead of our initially projected 2m.. we simply could not 100% guarantee production this autumn.. he committed himself to a film that has its budget fully in place and dates locked.

There is no hard feelings only best of wishes (laced with mutual regret)

I will not share with you the painful details, the near misses, the almost theres, the talent coming and going, over these years.. as i'm sure you know these frustrations well enough.

If for whatever reason production becomes delayed yet again and we run into 2009 he would like very much to shoot our film, while at same time he hopes that after these long and frustrating years we can finally get to shoot this film before this year passes.

It would pain me to have to delay production again until next year especially if all else is in place. He understands this of course, and naturally once we start looking for a new DP, if would be difficult/unfair to turn back.

So as a writer/director with his first feature finally approaching production this autumn/winter.. I am writing here to ask for suggestions. I would of course be simpler to find a DP in Ireland, and there are no doubt many strong candidates, but I have always liked idea of bringing in an "outsider" perspective.

Below is a short synopsis of the film SHELTER (name may have to change to FIVE DAYS SHELTER) and some brief notes on cinematography.

most likely our new DP will come from ireland, Uk or mainland europe.. I appreciate your taking time to read this and although i am not here looking for applications, I would appreciate your opinions, suggestions, and advice.

SHELTER is a highly visual ensemble drama interweaving the lives of several characters in a contemporary urban setting over five days. All the characters live untenable existences of quiet desperation. It is only by letting go of the lies they?ve forced themselves to live, that they can ultimately find release and connect with the ?beauty?, the poetry, that their numbing routines have made them blind to. Shelter looks at the interconnectivity of all things in the face of man's inherent isolation, with themes of human nature and animal instinct, through a language beyond that of words. These lives are portrayed and betrayed by their fleeting interactions with each other and crucially the animals in their lives. This is a unique serious convergent drama revealing the poetry of the everyday. It is this recognition of and connection with the poetry and beauty in and around us that can lift us out of our sometimes despair and suffering.

The first draft contained no dialogue. Once I knew I had found the film the characters found their voices. It now has sparse, minimal dialogue and although strong on narrative it works more as a thematic exploration, closer to poetry and music.

The script yields its meanings (and asks provocative questions, for it is not morally prescriptive) through its overall conception, metaphorical constructs, structure and tone.

If asked to offer examples of films of its kind one could mention aspects of the work of Krzystof Kieslowski, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Terrence Davies, Robert Bresson, Lynne Ramsey?s Ratcatcher, and Leos Carax?s Les Amants du Pont Neuf, amongst others.

CINEMATOGRAPHY
* A lyrical/heightened naturalism.

* Observational, non-intrusive.

* Limited coverage. Masters where possible. Plan sequence. Dialogue often offscreen. Laconic minimal style

* Camera movement (finding/losing/leaving/abandoning) holding still at end of shot.

* Slow deliberate camera moves, giving unsettling edge, a shift in perspective.

* Objects obstructing view.

* Negative space.

* Frames within frames. (doorways. windows, mirrors)

* Reflective surfaces

* Empty frames, characters entering and leaving.

* Abandoning angles.

* Detached point of view (anthropological) Limited use of close ups.

* Occasional use of macro lenses for intimate scenes

* Mixed source lighting. Conflict between natural and artificial light sources. Use available light and practicals.

* Light places not faces.

* Limited use of fill lighting

* Spartan approach, work with darkness, let things fall off, and highlights bloom and blow out.

* Musicality, rhythm, repetition, coherence

This film has been playing in and on my mind for 4 years, but these haven't been wasted, the film is now much more clearly defined and refined, and will be all the better for the faith held in it for so long...

Thanks again for your time.. and BTW.. this is a wonderful forum for informative and inspiring discussions... much appreciated...

GER
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#2 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:13 AM

Having glanced over your post two DP's come to mind: Myself :) (wish I could show you frame grabs from my last film), and the fellow who shot "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days," Oleg Mutu.

It's a broad question, but what do directors want from DP's? Are we supposed to be as "invested" in a project as the director, or is it understood that a little detachment is often required in order to analyze and then carry out the director's wishes?
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#3 Ger Leonard

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 09:16 AM

Having glanced over your post two DP's come to mind: Myself :) (wish I could show you frame grabs from my last film), and the fellow who shot "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days," Oleg Mutu.

It's a broad question, but what do directors want from DP's? Are we supposed to be as "invested" in a project as the director, or is it understood that a little detachment is often required in order to analyze and then carry out the director's wishes?


hi jon, thanks for your input. I havent seen "4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days" yet but its on my list of films to see.

It now seems likely that a substantial portion of our budget will come from Belgium, which would require a spend there. We are therefore considering Belgian DPs.

I thought of the Darenne Brothers but their DP Alain Marceon is french
Benoit Debie would probably be outside our budget and unavailable.
Yves Cape is another belgian i'm aware of.

On your "broad question":

Personally i would want a DP that is "invested" in the project. For me its important that they can "see" where i'm coming from and that we have or learn a common language. Having said that, I subscribe to the tarkovsky tenant that "truth is reached through dispute".

I agree however that yes a certain detachment is required on both the part of the director and DP, to ensure we aren't seduced by images that although "pretty" and engaging, are not the "right" images for the film. In the heat of battle it is all too easy to lose sight of the film. The film should inspire the DP and in turn their inspiration further inspire the director and so on throughout the cast and crew, ultimately inspiring an audience (however many of few they may be)
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