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Director to Cinematographer Communication


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#1 Paul James Savarese

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 08:59 PM

What are some of the ways you (as cinematographers) understand the directors vision in terms of "look" for a project? During your first meetings together, what are the references that come up? Other movies? Still photographs? I would appreciate it if some shared their process. TIA - Paul


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#2 Paul James Savarese

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 09:22 PM

Cinematography For Directors - seems to be an excellent book on this topic which I've come across after posting.


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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 12:44 AM

Well Paul, it all depends on the director for me. It comes out of talking. Some directors talk in movies, others in paintings, some in music. I like to have a dialogue about it-- how they see things, how I see things-- give them other ideas they can discard, pull up movies, stills, shots, songs, poems, or tell stories from our own lives.

I find it most effective to have just rather broad discussions first, and then as things come together to get more specific-- and i also really like to go to the locations with the director and go over the scenes. Figure out our shots.

A lot of the overall look, however, comes down to the PD, so with the PD we'll often share art books, or books on fashion, movies ect ect. There is no singular way of doing it, since everyone seems to short hand films in their heads in different ways.


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#4 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 09:57 AM

When I get a script, before I read it, I'll ask a director to play the role of producer for a minute and pretend they have their pick of any director to direct their film.  Who would they pick?  Usually I get a pretty good idea of what they're going for in the tone and look.  Then I ask for a cast wish list so I can read characters with the right sort of personality attached etc.  When the film is done, where would it fall if you were to look it up on Netflix? 

 

When it comes to indie art film, I think there's an unfortunate corollation between how a film looks and how it's perceived.  Almost all of the really successful indie breakout films have a look that makes them stand apart.    Sometimes the results are interesting and other times they feel very tired.

 

Brick is a good example of using really beautiful and imaginative choices in the cinematography that seem carefully planned.  Requiem for a Dream being another.  But often that standard handheld look which I find really annoying like on Blue is the Warmest Color, Dallas Buyers Club etc. is the prevailing model in indie film.  It's almost something required.  Like the film has to feel "authentic" and therefore the cinematography must feel like so many indie films before it.

 

I'm not criticizing either film as they both look great and I think the DP's did an awesome job with each.  This is a more general criticism. i"m disappointed a little when a film opens with a character that's just sitting there and the camera is shaking cause it's handheld when it obviously doesn't need to be.  Fine for scenes where tension is needed but it is something that's so overdone and at times, it feels like a formulaic language necessary because of the perception of the film as "indie".

 

It makes me wonder whether the producers rep was in charge of these decisions.  "It's gotta seem Indie folks.  Absolutely no camera support of any kind"


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 10 March 2014 - 10:01 AM.

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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:18 PM

 it's handheld when it obviously doesn't need to be.  Fine for scenes where tension is needed but it is something that's so overdone and at times, it feels like a formulaic language necessary because of the perception of the film as "indie".

 

It makes me wonder whether the producers rep was in charge of these decisions.  "It's gotta seem Indie folks.  Absolutely no camera support of any kind"

This happens all the time. I have grown very tired of explaining to people that shaky handheld wide shots just look terrible. I love handheld work, but shaking a wide so it 'matches' the rest of the coverage is nuts.


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