Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC was born and raised in a small seaside town called Torquay in Devon, England. His mother had been an actress before the war and was an amateur artist. Deakins spent his school days painting and enrolled in art school as a graphics arts major. At art school he discovered still photography. He subsequently completed his education at the National Film School. After graduation, Deakins focused on documentaries for some seven years, on subjects ranging from the wars in Rhodesia and Eritrea to a trip of nine-months duration in one of the entrants on a round the world yacht race.
He earned his first feature credit shooting the low budget Another Time, Another Place for Channel 4 television. His later credits in the UK would include 1984, Sid and Nancy, Stormy Monday, White Mischief and Mountains of the Moon. Deakins began his collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen in 1991 with Barton Fink. In 1995, Deakins earned an Oscar nomination and the American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Award for his work on The Shawshank Redemption. There have been subsequent Oscar and ASC Award nominations for Fargo, Kundun and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Deakins has compiled some 38 narrative credits including such other memorable films as the recent HBO film Dinner With Friends, Imagine entertainment's A Beautiful Mind, and his sixth feature film with the Coen brothers, The Man Who Wasn't There, which is being released in black and white.
ICG: Tell us about where you were raised in England?
DEAKINS: I was brought up in a sort of fishing, sailing, boating community called Torquay in Devon, England. It was a great place for a kid to grow up and I love it there. I still keep a flat nearby.
ICG: Were you interested in photography or movies as a youth?
DEAKINS: I was mad about movies. My brother and I would walk three to four miles, sometimes in the rain, to see films. I joined a local film society, but I never thought movies could become my career. I still remember watching The War Game, a film by Peter Watkins about what would happen if a nuclear bomb went off in London. It sort of felt like a documentary, but it was a fictional film. It was made for the BBC, but it was banned until the '90s. For some reason our film society had a copy of the film. It was a terrifying film. Some of the ladies in the screening fainted and a couple ran out of the theatre. I remember being impressed by the power of filmmaking.
ICG: Is that when you started thinking about becoming a filmmaker?
DEAKINS: I didn't know what I was going to do. The headmaster told me I should plan to work in a bank or do something like that. I rebelled against that idea. Although I loved the sea I was desperate to get away from the restrictive small town environment I was in, so I applied to an art school. My mother was an actress, and she was really good at painting, so she had some influence on my thinking. She died when I was nine or 10 years old. I started painting when I was very young. I really wanted to be a painter. Everything I painted was very, very naturalistic.
ICG: Where did you go to school?
DEAKINS: I applied for entry in an art course at a university. I don't remember why that didn't work out. I think I applied too late. Basically I was a bit of a mess as a kid. I didn't know what to do. I knew I didn't want to work in a bank. My father was a builder, and, sadly for him at the time, that was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I spent most of my time by myself, painting very dark morbid pictures. I was accepted as a graphic arts student at Bath Academy of Art in a little village called Corsham, Wiltshire. They also had a fine arts department where they taught painting and sculpturing.
ICG: How did you get from art to cinematography?
DEAKINS: I discovered photography at art college. There was a darkroom, and I kind of pinched the key one day and made a copy of it. I would work at night in the darkroom when everyone else was asleep. I would go off for weeks at a time just taking pictures. Then, I would spend all my time in the darkroom. I also did silkscreen printing, etching and other graphic arts, but photography really took over my life. At the end of the course, they said, well, 'you've got all these photographs, but you haven't really done anything else. How do you expect to make a living?' I didn't know the answer.
ICG: Who were your early influencers?
DEAKINS: We had cinematographers like Dick Bush and Ozzie Morris teaching classes. Film school was great. It was very unfocused at the time, because it had just started. They didn't really have an infrastructure, and (head of the school) Colin Young didn't want to impose anything. It was anarchy in a way, and I think he was right. Everybody had a set amount of money every year, and they could either chose to pool it with other people, or make their own films the way they wanted to make them. I made documentaries, and also put money towards other people's projects, so I could shoot their movies. Mainly, they were dramatic films and occasional documentaries. I think I shot 15 films in three years. They ran from 30 to 90 minutes each. I was shooting constantly.
ICG: How about The Shawshank Redemption? How did you prepare for that?
DEAKINS: I don't know how you prepare to do a movie. You are really prepared by your life's experience if that's not a too pretentious a way of putting it. Other than that, you read the script and talk with the director. I got the script while we were in the middle of shooting The Hudsucker Proxy, and we started shooting six weeks later.
ICG: Do you think the fact that you started out doing documentaries helps in a movie like The Shawshank Redemption?
DEAKINS: I don't know whether that helps or not. Would the film have been better if someone else had photographed it, someone who came from a different background, I don't know. My personal style, the way I like to light and move the camera, really does come from documentaries.
ICG: When you're reading a script for the first time, are you seeing the images in your mind at that point?
DEAKINS: No. The first time I read the script I'm seeing if I can relate to the characters, and if has something to say. Does that sound pretentious? I don't read it thinking this is going to be visually interesting. I think if I can relate to the people or the situation, or if it moves me-and that's a personal thing—then I'll read the script again and think about it visually. It's the story first and foremost that draws me to a film, though obviously I love working with Joel and Ethan. I'd shoot the phone directory for them.
Source : Bob FISHER "Camera Guild"
Voici une nouvelle interview de John SCHWARTZMAN propos de "Armageddon" (1998).
John Schwartzman, ASC, has treasured boyhood memories of visiting movie sets ranging from London to Nanchez, Mississippi, with his father Jack Schwartzman, an entertainment industry lawyer and producer (Never Say Never Again). He was around 16 when his younger sister introduced him to one of her friends, a 12-year-old named Michael Bay. After completing the USC cinema school graduate program in 1985, Schwartzman launched his career shooting horror flicks on 18-day schedules. He and Bay began their collaboration later during the ‘80s shooting music videos and TV commercials. Schwartzman’s narrative credits include Benny & Joon, Airheads, Conspiracy Theory and Bay’s first feature, The Rock. Their collaboration continues with Armageddon. Excerpts of a conversation follow:
QUESTION: How did your experiences shooting music videos and commercials with Michael Bay influence your collaboration as narrative filmmakers?
SCHWARTZMAN: We did a lot of unconventional things on videos. We shot one video through the base side of the film, over-exposing it by three stops just to see what happened. There is a visual shorthand that comes from working together the way we have. When he is speaking about a shot I can finish his sentences.
QUESTION: How did you prepare to shoot this movie?
SCHWARTZMAN: We did a lot of research. We talked to people at NASA and also a photographer at an Orlando newspaper who shot every launch. One of the movies we watched was The Abyss. We wanted to understand how they got people in the audience to feel like they were individually in that tight space.
QUESTION: Was there any discussion about selecting a format?
SCHWARTZMAN: There was an unspoken agreement that this movie would be filmed in 2.4:1 aspect ratio. The main reason for choosing anamorphic over Super 35 was that we wanted the sharpest images possible with rich saturation and contrast and little or no grain. We wanted images that jump off the screen. I used the old Panavision C and E type lenses because they reminded me of the epic films of my childhood. They are also more compact than Primo lenses and we had a lot of Steadicam and handheld shots.
QUESTION: How much of the look or visual style for Armageddon was planned?
SCHWARTZMAN: The broad strokes were planned by Michael, Michael White (production designer) and myself, but the subtleties were accidents that we embraced. We’d have some sparks in a shot and when we saw the effect, we decided to light the whole scene that way. We used a handheld Eyemo camera for extra coverage, and decided to make it our main camera in one scene. That’s the way you catch lightning in a bottle.
QUESTION: How about the scene where they launch the shuttles?
SCHWARTZMAN: We shot that at the Cape in Florida. There was a daylight run-through of a shuttle launch that we filmed with 15 cameras. We also filmed the actual launch at night. There is no second take, so NASA scientists helped me calculate our exposures. They said that when the rocket is 1,000 feet beyond the tower at night, we’d be reading 18,000 footcandles at 9,000 degrees Kelvin. I figured out that we should shoot at stop T-8 with [Eastman] EXR 5293 film for the look that we wanted.
QUESTION: Why did you use a 200-speed film on a shot like that?
SCHWARTZMAN: I spent weeks at Panavision finding the sweet spot on every lens we used in the movie. I used the [Eastman EXR] 5248 and 5293 (200-speed tungsten) films and Kodak Vision 500-speed films depending on the lighting in the scene and the look we wanted. For example, I knew I was going to get cleaner and sharper images if I shoot with the 500-speed film at stop T-4.5 than I would by exposing the 5293 film at stop T-2.8 with the same anamorphic Type C 50 mm lens. We weren’t looking for beautiful images. We wanted images that captured the mood of the story and made it feel real.
QUESTION: What were some of the other broad strokes?
SCHWARTZMAN: When they are on the space shuttles on the way to the asteroid and landing on it, Michael wanted to drag the audience out of their seats and put them in the movie. The space shuttle was on a gimbal and we built a head for the tripod out of Teflon springs. We were shaking both the gimbal and camera to create a sense of motion and energy. We also used lighting to create illusions, which help the audience feel the danger of floating in the blackness and coldness of space, and detached from the warmth of Earth. We also wanted them to feel exhausted.
QUESTION: How about the asteroid?
SCHWARTZMAN: The asteroid is like the shark in Jaws. The less you see, the more frightening it is. That’s why Michael wanted a lot of atmosphere. We had steaming geysers, dust in the air and 100-mile-per-hour windstorms with flying pieces of rock breaking off the surface. We lit seven miles of the South Dakota Bad Lands to shoot establishing scenes at night. The ground is a white alkaline that reflects light. Our lighting package included two Muscos, 40 18Ks, 24 6K bars and seven-and-a-half miles of cable. The vehicle was around 28 feet long, but it looked tiny and helpless in wide shots.
QUESTION: How much of the scenes on the shuttles and asteroid were effects?
SCHWARTZMAN: We shot everything possible live on one of the biggest stages in Los Angeles, including geysers, atmosphere and flying rocks which were mainly chucks of ice and cornflakes. One advantage was that if we didn’t like what we saw in dailies, we did it again the next day. We also felt we’d get more realistic reactions from the actors with real flying debris and atmosphere. There still was a fair amount of CGI and digital composites. I shot as many of the elements as I could myself, because the most important thing is the consistency of the look and lighting. We’ve been shooting our own effects shots for years with videos and commercials.
QUESTION: There is a sense or feeling of dimensionality.
SCHWARTZMAN: That comes from contrast and lighting. It was mainly side or crosslight and a little top light. There are dark foregrounds with strong edge lights and silhouettes in the foreground. We were mainly using two cameras and sometimes three, and they were almost always moving on a Steadicam, handheld or dollying. Our lighting was controlled on a dimmer board. That gave us a lot of flexibility. We could do cross-fades and make a 360-degree movie with a Steadicam around an actor and bring the lights up and down as needed. We were also able to move from one setup to the next a lot quicker. When you are shooting some 3,200 setups that makes a big difference.
source : Film & Video Magazine 1998 (Bob FISHER)
A primal need for revenge is the emotional thread woven through the fabric of the story, however that is a substantial over simplification. Kill Bill: Volume 1 also explores the complex relationships linking an extraordinary band of female assassins. Uma Thurman plays The Bride, a.k.a. Black Mamba, who is targeted for assassination on her wedding day, because she may become a threat. Her guests are killed, but she awakens from a coma four years after the assassination attempt with a ravenous appetite for revenge.
The sub-text focuses on the complexities of human nature, including inbred instincts for revenge and survival. The Bride targets her former colleagues leaving Bill, played by David Carradine, the leader of the clan of killers for last. The cast includes Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver, a.k.a. California Mountain Snake, Michael Madsen as Budd, a.k.a. Sidewinder, Vivica Fox as Vernita Green, a.k.a. Cobra, Lucy Liu, O-Ren Ishi, a.k.a. Cottonmouth, Michael Jai White as Alburt, Chia Hui Liu as Gordon Liu, Chiaki Kuriyama as Go Go Yubari and Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo.
Kill Bill was mainly filmed on stages in Peking, China, and also at locations in Japan, Los Angeles and Mexico. Each setting provided backgrounds for different chapters of the story. The film will be released in two parts. Kill Bill: Volume 1 opens in October with the climax slated to follow at a future date. Separate release prints are being made for Japan and other markets with subtle differences in colors, textures and contrast as well as content. In other words, this is no ordinary action film.
The idea for the story and previsualization percolated in Tarantino’s fertile imagination for four years before it was greenlighted for production by Miramax Films. Robert Richardson, ASC received the script along with a bouquet of roses at his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Valentine’s Day in 2002. It was like he was being wooed by the director. Richardson was intrigued by the possibilities of collaborating with Tarantino and the potential dynamics of that relationship. He observes that much of the best visual storytelling has evolved from synergistic relationships between directors and cinematographers, citing Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist, ASC, Bernardo Bertolucci and Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC, David Lean and Freddie Young, BSC, Joel and Ethan Coen and Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, among others.
Richardson could have mentioned his own collaborations with another writer-director, Oliver Stone, on such memorable films as Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Heaven on Earth, Wall Street, Natural Born Killers and Nixon, and his budding relationship with Martin Scorsese on Casino, Bringing Out the Dead and the future release The Aviator.
Richardson brought both the sum of his life’s experiences and innate talent to the project. He was born and raised in the Cape Cod area. During his freshman year at the University of Vermont, Richardson saw a series of Bergman films, including Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Hour of the Wolf. That experience fueled his interest in the medium. He signed up for every film and theater arts class available. After exhausting the possibilities offered by the curriculum, Richardson took a year off to think about his future. During that hiatus, he worked as an usher at a hometown cinema.
Richardson decided to continue his undergraduate education at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he was nurtured by Peter O’Neal, a professor/friend/ teacher, who opened his eyes to the diversity of film as art. He studied and parsed the works of such filmmakers as Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North), Michael Powell (The Red Shoes) and David and Albert Maysles (Salesman), and many others.
“I cannot say enough about the importance of that relationship … Peter O’Neal allowed clarity to re-enter and maintain by channeling my brooding energy,” he says.
After graduation, Richardson enrolled at the American Film Institute, where he focused on cinematography under the guidance of George Folsey, ASC.
“He inspired me to analyze the men who photographed the films that were instrumental in my life,” says Richardson, citing Nykvist, Jack Cardiff, BSC, Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC, Raoul Coutard, Gregg Toland, ASC, Stanley Cortez, ASC and others.
Richardson discovered that a master’s degree in fine arts didn’t open doors in Hollywood. He spent seven years mainly shooting documentaries with occasional insert and second unit work. His breakthrough came in the wake of filming Crossfire, a documentary about the civil war in El Salvador. In 1986, Stone hired Ramon Mendez, the soundman on Crossfire, as a technical consultant when he was preparing to shoot Salvador. Stone was a successful screenwriter taking his first turn at the helm. Mendez introduced Richardson to Stone. It was the beginning of their collaboration.
Richardson earned his first Oscar nomination for Platoon (1986), his second film with Stone. He was nominated again for Born on the Fourth of July (1990), and took top honors for JFK (1991). Richardson collected a fourth nomination for Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).
His collaboration with Tarantino opened new paths to explore. “Quentin carried Kill Bill like a child in the womb for four long years,” says Richardson. “My role (as a cinematographer) is to give birth to what the director imagines. It is a confounding relationship. Sometimes there is a catastrophic collision of egos and at other times it’s a marriage of shared artistic interests that are as pure as poetry. Each film has a singular identity that begins with the director and the script. From there, I facilitate––beginning with the director and stretching outward to the story––the plot and characters. Quentin has a strong aversion to pretentiousness. His vision is not conventional. If I had come to him with a fully developed visual treatment and attempted to attach my vision atop of Kill Bill, I wouldn’t have survived the first cup of coffee.”
Tarantino showed Richardson films and sent him DVDs, laser discs and tapes that inspired aspects of his vision for Kill Bill, including the use of colors, composition, camera music and the choreographing of images with music. Richardson estimates that he viewed more than 200 films in preparation for shooting. Probably few, if any of them, are on Roger Ebert’s or Leonard Maltin’s must watch lists. The titles ranged from Godzilla to Street Fighter and Tokyo Mafia.
When Richardson came onboard 10 weeks before the first day of photography, Tarantino already had a vision for a visual style etched in his mind. The director had laid the foundation that with production designers David Wasco, a frequent collaborator, and Yohei Taneda, augmented by costumers Kumiko Ogawa and Catherine Marie Thomas. Richardson had his say during preproduction, regarding the choice of locations and to a lesser extent the color palette.
“Quentin is a passionate filmmaker … film is life to him,” Richardson says. “He is a lot like Marty Scorsese that way. Though their tastes are vastly different, their love of the art is virtually identical … and this love comes with a vast reservoir of knowledge. … Day by day, the two of us learned how to communicate with each other. I was patient not to rush for answers. It has taken me years to learn that lesson.”
Tarantino wasn’t enthusiastic about shooting makeup, hair or costume tests. He agreed to allocate part of one day for Richardson to experiment with lighting Thurman. The rest came down to Richardson’s eye and instincts at the moment of photography.
“Stylistically the film oscillates between actors bathed in soft lighting where colors take on a muted feel (at the end) to high key and loud lighting, and a ‘dupe’ quality for the Pai Mei sequences (where a martial arts teacher is instructing The Bride),” Richardson says. “We move in and out of the various signature styles of genres, including Westerns, melodrama, thrillers and horror films. Saturated and bloody images run atop of brutal and harsh shots while Kramer Vs. Kramer beckons us from the wings.”
Tarantino always visualized Kill Bill as a widescreen (2.4:1 aspect ratio) movie. Richardson prefers shooting in anamorphic format, because of the degradation of image quality inherent to the optical extraction required by the Super 35 format.
“Casino was the only film I’ve shot in Super 35 format,” he says, “and I was terribly disappointed with the release print quality. It was devastating to me. Quentin had a similar experience with Reservoir Dogs. Films stocks and lenses have improved, but there is still a chasm (separating the Super 35 and anamorphic formats).”
The problem was that Tarantino had written specific “zoom” lens shots into the script. Richardson felt that the anamorphic zoom lenses available from Panavision didn’t provide a fast enough T-stop to properly execute those shots. That drove the decision to use a digital intermediate process. That approach enabled Richardson to shoot with spherical lenses in Super 35 format and “squeeze” the images into a 2.4:1 aspect ratio during digital mastering. Basically, the edited cut of the negative is scanned and converted to digital files. The images are timed for shot-to-shot and scene-to-scene continuity in a digital suite, and then recorded out to an intermediate film used as a master for release printing. It’s a familiar tactic for Richardson, who has shot many commercials that have been converted to digital format and manipulated in telecine suites. However, this is his first experience with a “film-out” from a digital intermediate.
He suggested shooting Kill Bill in three-perforation 35mm format. That trimmed film and lab costs by 25 percent. Richardson explains that essentially covered costs for the digital intermediate process. There is no downside, since the digital files can be recorded out to a four-perf 35mm color intermediate film with no loss of picture quality.
Front-end processing and release printing were slated for Technicolor Labs, in Los Angeles. Tarantino agreed with Richardson’s suggestion about creating and timing a digital file at Technique, the lab’s subsidiary in the Los Angeles area.
Richardson, Tarantino, and the cast and crew spent close to three months shooting on stages at Peking Studios with some additional scenes filmed at practical locations. It was an aesthetic decision. Tarantino is a Kung Fu purist. He felt that for authenticity it was essential to shoot vital martial arts scenes in China. Richardson says that enabled the company to draw on the talents of people who are most familiar with the art.
“There is a textural sensibility and craftsmanship that would have been extremely difficult to attain in a Western country,” he says. “One of the obvious challenges was language. I learned to relinquish my arrogance and assimilated.”
Locations in Japan were primarily used for filming driving sequences with The Bride and a character named Sofie Fatale, played by Julie Dreyfus. The main locations were a desert setting abutting Los Angeles where The Bride exacts her revenge on The Sidewalker, and in a home in Pasadena, California, which served as The Cobra’s home. There were also scenes filmed on sets built in Los Angeles, including the final confrontation between The Bride and Bill. Locations in Mexico provided exteriors for Bill’s hacienda and also for driving sequences.
Richardson’s camera package consisted of a few Panaflex Platinum bodies and a range of Primo prime and zoom lenses. Tarantino would show up everyday with shot lists written with red ink on white paper. He used frequent rehearsals as opportunities to block the action and accommodate suggestions from the actors. Dialogue scenes were mainly shot with one camera, and action sequences with two to provide coverage from different angles. Cameras were usually traveling on a Steadicam, crane or on tracks, anticipating the words and the action with a blend of subjective and objective point-of-view shots.
“We did a series of rather complicated Steadicam/crane shots that Quentin devised out of the evil side of his mind,” Richardson recalls. “One such shot required (camera/Steadicam operator) Larry McConkey to do an eight-minute tracking shot where he had to move nimbly between a mounted and cabled pedestal that lifted him 30 feet into the air, and then deposited him back on the ground where he once again had to adjust to a walking mode ending up on a crane that lifted him above a crowd.”
That shot was for a challenging sequence dubbed “Crazy 88” indicating the number of Yakuza thugs The Bride kills during an early sequence after she snaps out of her coma. The Bride traces Cobra to a Japanese nightclub created in precise detail on the Peking stage. The shot begins behind the bandstand where an all-girl band is bobbing their heads to a retro beat. McConkey flows to his right passing under a stairway and revealing The Bride moving into the frame. The camera seems to float behind her as she strides down a hallway and moves behind a screen, where she is seen in silhouette.
McConkey steps onto a Pegasus crane, which rises and follows The Bride. It descends and McConkey steps off following her as she enters a stall in a restroom. The Bride changes her clothes and dons a tracksuit. She is ready for action. The Bride leaves the stall walking toward McConkey’s moving camera and returns to the main floor of the club. As she walks up another staircase, McConkey steps back onto the crane, which rises and reveals the room from The Bride’s perspective. It’s like you are inside her mind.
It looks spontaneous, but the cast and crew moved in perfect synchronization. Dolly grip David Merrill used bilingual flashcards to “speak” with Chinese members of the crew, and gaffer Ian Kincaid was precisely controlling lighting with a dimmer board. Richardson notes that at times hundreds of lights were linked to a single cue. Kincaid was able to control some 400 lighting channels with a remote board that he handheld, usually standing behind the camera next to Richardson. The cinematographer and gaffer have been working together for years, which enhanced their communications.
“We didn’t do much motivated lighting in a classic sense,” Richardson observes. “It is a more stylized than naturalistic look, usually visually punctuating psychological moments in the story.”
Tarantino was also always around the camera and actors, rather than isolating himself in a “video village.” He and Richardson were frequently in eye-to-eye contact, which expedited spontaneous decisions when “happy accidents” occurred.
Tarantino wanted a clean, unfiltered look, so Richardson took a minimalist approach to using glass diffusion. He used either number 85 or 81EF color correction filters when recording daylight exteriors onto tungsten-balanced film, and at times, Richardson opted for a one-quarter Black Pro-Mist or similarly light diffusion.
The cinematographer armed himself with a large arsenal of emulsions, including Kodachrome 40 movie film, a color positive, Eastman Double-X black-and-white film, and five color negatives, including Eastman EXR 5248 (100T), Eastman EXR 5293 (200T), Kodak Vision 5277 (320T), Kodak Vision 5279 (500T), and Kodak Vision 5289 (800T). Each film provided unique imaging characteristics, enabling him to take a painterly approach to rendering looks.
“Each stock offers distinct values, including speed, grain and sensitivity, but more importantly they provide a distinct texture, which I believe the audience feels,” he says.
There is no formula or textbook explanation for choosing the right camera film for any situation, Richardson comments. The variables are incalculable. It has to do with the individual cinematographer’s experience, tastes and interpretations of how different emulsions respond to light, and how that will match the director’s vision.
For example, when Tarantino said he wanted a “Sergio Leone” look, typical of that director’s Spaghetti Westerns for a sequence where The Bride is being coached by a wise monk to sharpen her Kung Fu skills, Richardson chose a color reversal stock with more contrast. The exposed film was shepherded through several generations of duplication until Tarantino was satisfied with the degraded, contrasty and scratchy look.
There are various paths Richardson could have followed to achieve similar results, but he didn’t want something similar. One of the options available to him was the possibility of selectively altering colors, contrast or other aspects of images during digital timing. One of the advantages of timing films digitally is that elements of shots can be isolated with Power Windows software without altering anything else.
“I knew what I could do in post,” he says. “If the situation arose, where I could isolate a wall to make it darker during timing, and we could save significant time lighting, it gave us another option. That gave us the flexibility to move more rapidly with more assurance that we weren’t making compromises that affected our product. That type of flexibility also made it easier and faster for us to adjust to changes in weather, knowing we could match the sky (when parts of a scene were filmed in sunlight and parts in clouds). I don’t want to insinuate that a ‘Don Quixote’ moment can be repaired. Far from it; but small shifts in color temperatures are less troubling to the mind.”
That brings us to “Sparkle” (a.k.a. Steve Arkle), the colorist at Complete Post, which is now part of Technicolor Creative Services in Los Angeles. During the bulk of production, Richardson was shooting film literally half-way around the world. The exposed negative, approximately a million feet in all, was being flown to Los Angeles, where it was processed by Technicolor. High-definition dailies were timed by Sparkle. Richardson says that he and Sparkle spoke by telephone nearly every day. In his notes, and in their conversations, Richardson described the nuances he envisioned shot by shot. Sparkle, in turn, provided observations, suggestions and insights.
“I have worked extensively with Sparkle on commercials over the years, and my relationship with him was vital,” says Richardson. “In fact, I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable without him. He is brilliant, and I don’t say that lightly.”
There was typically a one week delay from the time film was exposed until Richardson received dailies in HD format. He had an HD projector set up in a room where he could screen dailies, usually with his crew. Tarantino only rarely sat in on those sessions. The dailies gave Richardson fodder for his communications with Sparkle. Technique produced a film-out, which was used to produce prints for previews.
Tarantino insisted that preview audiences experience Kill Bill: Volume 1 projected on film rather than with a digital projector. He wanted the audience to experience the visual nuances. The response reported by critics was “wildly enthusiastic.”
Source : Bob FISHER "Camera Guild"
Once upon a time in America, a young con artist named Frank Abagnale, Jr. led law enforcement agencies on a merry chase. Abagnale was the spawn of a dysfunctional family that lived on the wrong side of the law. He was 17 when he began his crime spree. There was no violence. It was all guile. Abagnale stole from the rich without sharing his loot with the poor. He had various alter egos, including doctor, lawyer, airline pilot and assistant attorney general. Abagnale mastered the art of forging millions of dollars in checks and he made the FBI’s Most Wanted list before his 20th birthday. He was nabbed in France about five years after it all began.
Think of Catch Me If You Can as the yin to the yang of Minority Report. Both films were developed by DreamWorks, directed by Steven Spielberg and photographed by Janusz Kaminski, ASC. That is where the similarities end. Minority Report was a big budget vision of a future where society takes a dark turn. The story was visually punctuated with a unique in-your-face quality as original as Blade Runner was in 1982.
Catch Me If You Can is set in the 1960s. It is based on a book authored by Abagnale and Stan Redding called Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Most Extraordinary Liar. The book was adapted for the screen by Jeff Nathanson. It is a performance-driven story with no visual effects, gimmicks or car chases, and nothing is blown up. Instead there is comedy, drama and characters you’ll remember.
Catch Me If You Can was filmed in just 56 days at more than 100 locations, mainly in Los Angeles. The visual style is an almost authentic rendering of the real people, times and places with a hint of fantasy reflecting the dream-like lifestyle that Abagnale created for himself. Kaminski compares the look to “…opening a bottle of champagne and pouring it into a glass… it’s pretty and bubbly,” with occasional darker sequences.
Abagnale is portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. The pursuit is led by a fictional FBI agent named Carl Hanratty, portrayed by Tom Hanks, who eventually develops feelings of empathy for Abagnale. The fictional character is based on a real life FBI agent who became kind of a surrogate father for Abagnale at the end of the chase. Others in the ensemble cast include Christopher Walken, as Abagnale’s father, Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen, Frank John Hughes and Brian Howe.
Don’t let the glittering array of stars fool you. The film was an ambitious endeavor accomplished on a comparatively slim budget. It was Kaminski’s 22nd narrative credit during the past dozen years. The cinematographer began his career working for Roger Corman as a gaffer and B-camera operator after emerging from AFI during the late 1980s. During the 1990s, he earned Oscars for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, and a third nomination for Amistad. Four of his recent projects, Minority Report, Artificial Intelligence: AI, Saving Private Ryan, and Amistad, featured stylized cinematography employing bleach bypass processes.
This was a different type of film in every way. Kaminski had six weeks of prep time. He says eight to nine weeks is more typical on a Spielberg project. Keep in mind they were preparing to shoot at two to three different locations literally every day. Kaminski credits his gaffer (David Devlin) and key grip (Jimmy Kwiatkowski) with doing much of the location scouting groundwork.
“David and I have worked together for the past eight years,” he says. “He knows what I like. David showed the production designer (Jeannine Claudia Oppewall) where I needed lighting fixtures and windows, and only called me when he thought a location was really unsuitable or just plain ugly. He’d say, ‘I know you are not going to like it, but you’d better come and check it out before it’s too late.’ They are true partners who covered my back, so I could concentrate on lighting. Jeannine also did an amazing job.”
Three days of shooting were slated for Montreal, one day in Quebec and three in New York City. The rest of the story was filmed in and around Los Angeles.
“Leo (DiCaprio) plays a charming guy who steals $6 million by the time he’s 18, but with such panache that no one is ever physically hurt,” Kaminski says. “I believe the audience will like and empathize with him, and they will be sad because at the end, he’s a lonely guy looking for the ideal father that he never had.”
Salesman, a classic documentary shot by Albert Maysles with his brother David recording sound, was a key reference for Kaminski and Spielberg––showing the importance of visuals for understanding characters.
“It’s a story about basically pathetic creatures who are losers in life and live in a pretend world,” Kaminski says. “It’s a great film. We also looked at Frederick Wiseman’s High School (another documentary). We wanted our film to feel a little bit like that one. We avoided the conventional kitschy and cliché representation of the 1960s and ‘70s that you see in many period films. We had amazing locations and the costumes by Mary Zophres were also fantastic. They are all part of the look. When you shoot a film with this many locations, you do broad strokes because you have to move fast.”
But, Kaminski notes that doesn’t mean they shot in documentary style. “It’s stylized, romantic lighting, though there are also scenes that look realistic,” he continues. “For instance, we wanted to create the impression we’re actually in an FBI office. We created fluorescent top light that was kind of a pale white with bluish tones and just slightly bright. There are sequences in a hospital where the light is bright and flat, but there is also a little contrast. There is a wedding with very romantic, warm backlight with 1/2 orange gel mixed with blue and white.”
Catch Me If You Can is framed in Academy aperture 1.85:1 aspect ratio, mainly because it’s an intimate, character-driven story. The camera package included Panavision Millennium and Millennium XL bodies with Primo prime and zoom lenses.
Kaminski describes the visual perspective for Catch Me If You Can as mainly objective, with the camera usually serving as an observer rather than as a participant.
“It’s the opposite of the approach we took in Minority Report,”he explains. “It’s very straightforward with no slick camerawork and no CGI. The camera is usually moving, because that’s how Steven likes to tell stories.”
They shot at many practical locations, including the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, houses in Pasadena, and on a college campus. One of the exceptions was a huge set for FBI headquarters, built in a big abandoned warehouse with existing lighting fixtures and an entire wall covered with windows. An existing set on a stage was used to film scenes in the apartment where Abagnale’s parents lived. Those few sets on stages were treated as though they were practical locations with no wild walls or ceilings.
“I’ve always loved shooting at practical locations,” Kaminski says. “You can’t move the walls, and the light comes from directions where there are windows and lamps. But light doesn’t always have to be motivated. It can be totally unrealistic and stylized if it fits the story. You can analyze it, but it also has to feel right. The big question is whether you have the guts and heart to trust your intuition.”
Kaminski lauds the actors, paying special homage to DiCaprio. “Leo has to play someone who is 17 at the beginning and 21 by the end,” he says. “Makeup, hair and wardrobe were important, but mainly it’s his performance that makes the character believable. He acts like a teenager when he’s 17 and like a young adult when he is 20 and 21. Actors are amazing people. I think they have the hardest job. I try to protect them, and insist that my crew treats them with respect.”
Kaminski worked with his regular crew, including camera operators, Mitch Dubin and Dave Emmerichs, who also operated the Steadicam. His assistants were Steve Meizler, Tom Jordan and Mark Spath, and the film loader was Paul Toomey.
After shooting a series of make-up and wardrobe tests, Kaminski decided to mainly work with Kodak Vision 5277 film. The 320-speed film is balanced for exposure in tungsten light. It is designed to render sharper images with lower contrast than most other Vision films. Kaminski says the film tests served several purposes. They provided an opportunity for the actors and the crew to bond in an informal environment. He explains that it breaks the ice so they feel more comfortable with each other.
“I do very extensive testing,” he says. “It’s not just an actor sitting on a chair against a black backdrop. I built a set with windows and used extras and props. We tested different make-ups, wardrobes, colors, lighting styles and camera angles to see what worked best with different characters. We also tested prosthetics, because Leo had to look like a teenager and also a young man. I tested the amount of darkness under his eyes for different situations, the length and colors of wigs and his facial growth.
“With Tom Hanks, we tested wardrobes to see how he looked dressed in a classic FBI uniform (a dark suit) from that period. We also tested props. One set of glasses made him look like a character from the TV show Dragnet, so that got eliminated.”
Kaminski also conferred with the costume designer during preproduction. “Mary (Zophres) understood the period,” he says. “We talked about the wardrobe and color palette. The colors were warm and soft. Leo’s character wore James Bond style clothing, because he wanted to be seen as a gentleman criminal.”
He notes the tests also enabled him to show Spielberg his concepts for lighting. Important scenes take place in bank lobbies, where Abagnale is cashing checks.
“We played with the idea that the banks he visited were like modern temples,” he says. “We shot in a bank in Brooklyn that looks like a church, so we played with that idea. When Leo comes into the bank to cash a check for the first time, we make him seem small in a really wide-angle shot. You see the entire lobby of the bank in kind of an angelic light with this small tiny figure walking across the floor.”
That’s just one example of how an intuitive decision made by the cinematographer establishes a visual grammar for telling the story. Kaminski always kept in mind that the images would be augmented by a John Williams musical score and that the film would be cut by Michael Kane—both are constants in Spielberg films.
“Every picture is different,” Kaminski observes. “In Schindler’s List, Oscar’s lighting was two dimensional, because he was an enigmatic character with good and evil sides. Leo is playing a charming con man, so his lighting was pretty flat.”
Because of the nature of the story, DiCaprio is in almost every scene. Kaminski thinks the actor had one day off during the production.
“We spoke about that, and he said the worst thing about moviemaking is the hours,” he says. “The actors have to get up at 5:30 every morning, come in for make-up and work 13 or 14 hours every day or longer. There’s really no reason for that. You don’t need seventeen different angles of coverage of the same scene. Steven is a masterful director, who knows what he’s doing, so we were usually working 12-hour days. But it’s still hard on the actors, so we did everything we could to make it as easy as possible for them.”
Kaminski says that Spielberg doesn’t typically work with storyboards unless it’s a CGI sequence. They blocked scenes with the actors, but some of them had cameo roles and were only on the project for two or three days. Kaminski observes that it was difficult for those actors, because they had to mesh with the flow with little preparation.
“We were working at an intense pace,” Kaminski says, “but Steven still gave all the actors the freedom to take some dramatic license from take to take, which meant that the crew had to be alert and watch the lighting, framing and focus every second.”
Kaminski explains that he used hard or harsher light to convey a feeling of danger and softer light to accentuate beauty. “There is a scene where Leo (Abagnale) meets with his mother and father in their apartment,” Kaminski explains. “We had hot light coming through the window. It’s kind of bluish green and a little bit smoky. They are moving through bright light and darker areas. There’s a strong backlight that I had rigged right above the door. You can see the shaft. It isn’t motivated, but it could be coming from a skylight. It just felt right.”
Kaminski discusses a sequence filmed at the TWA terminal in New York City. “It’s a fantastic location,” he says. “The architecture is beautiful. It’s curved and shaped like a saucer with huge windows. Fortunately, we shot on an overcast day so there wasn’t hot sunshine coming through the windows, because we didn’t have enough Condors or crew to drop silks to block the sun.”
Mainly they covered scenes with the more compact Millennium XL camera and predominantly with prime lenses. Initially, Kaminski says they were thinking about shooting the entire movie with just 35mm and 85mm lenses. They decided to add 14mm, 25mm, and 50mm Primo lenses to the package. Kaminski observes that 50mm is often the long lens of choice for Spielberg. The cinematographer explains that he prefers the optical qualities of the prime lenses, partially because they give him the option of using filters to soften the look without degrading the images.
Kaminski says they frequently covered scenes with a single camera tracking from left to right or right to left, craning up, coming around 200 degrees and then swooping down into a close-up. One of those sweeping shots ends with a close up of Abagnale forging a check. Kaminski describes another shot with the camera on a cable rig. Abagnale is watching a movie in a theater. The camera starts with a long shot on the screen and dollies through the entire length of the theater ending on a close-up.
“We had huge crane shots downtown in New York,” he says. “In one, the camera is on the arm of an Akela crane, which descends to the pavement, where we see crowds on Park Avenue. We blocked off eight blocks for several hours and shot with period cars and costumes, and moved through the crowd with both huge dolly shots and the Steadicam.”
There were a few scenes where Spielberg wanted coverage with multiple cameras. One was an elegant shot of a romantic encounter at the Ambassador Hotel between Jennifer Garner, who plays a high-class hooker, and DiCaprio.
“She looks gorgeous, the location is wonderful and their clothes and makeup are fantastic,” Kaminski says. “Leo is standing at the door of a room, and we are shooting over her shoulder, down the hallway. The second camera sees her from his perspective.”
There were video taps on the camera feeding two monitors. One of them was positioned slightly behind the camera, close to the actors, where Spielberg, Kaminski and usually the script supervisor were standing or seated on apple boxes. “Steven and I both like being as close as possible to the actors,” he says.
Front-end processing was done by Technicolor with John Bickford timing dailies.
“Cinematography is not about making things look pretty,” Kaminski says. “It’s about taking chances. I know I’m ready for a movie when I dream about lighting. I go to bed and can’t wait until it is 4:30 am, so I can get up and go to the lab to see dailies. What happens if the light is three-and-a-half stops overexposed? Will it be too bright? What happens when it’s two-and-a-half or three stops underexposed? Are the shadows dark enough and will the audience see what we want them to see? What about the colors? I can’t wait until I see light going through the film and images projected on the screen.”
Usually Kaminski’s gaffer and first assistant, and sometimes the key grip viewed dailies with him at the lab. He watched corrected dailies again at lunch in a trailer that followed them to locations. Kaminski believes dailies are an important opportunity for everyone to see the movie progressing on the big screen. They can see how nuances affect the emotional tone and flow of the story and that inspires ideas for subsequent sequences.
Kaminski concludes with a surprising, but revealing comment. He says, “The hardest part of every film for me is the last step, color timing in the lab. I hate it. Something always disappoints me. But I suppose if I am ever fully satisfied, and say that’s the best I can do, it would be time to find another job.”
Source : Bob FISHER "Camera Guild"
There is an unforgettable line in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when the army keeps coming at the two anti-heroes. Butch realizes this is one scrape they might not survive. He plaintively asks Sundance, “Who are those guys?” That’s what people were asking with the same tone of incredulity after Don Burgess filmed Forrest Gump. “Who is that guy?”
Answer: Burgess is living proof that some dreams come true. He is evidence that you can achieve the heights of success as a cinematographer in Hollywood: an Oscar nomination by your peers. All it takes is talent, craftsmanship and dogged perseverance, plus an element of luck. Call it serendipity. You have to be at the right place at the right time.
Burgess is persistent. He earned his degree from the Pasadena Art Center some 20 years ago, and came out of school shooting. He also has talent and skill. In 1990, Burgess won an ACE award for photographing Breaking Point. He was also nominated for an ASC Outstanding Achievement Award for a telefilm titled The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson.
Andy Warhol must have had Burgess in mind when he said that everyone is entitled to 15 minutes of fame. After his time in the limelight, Burgess was still on every second unit director’s A list. Need someone to handhold a camera while skiing backward down a mountain? Call Burgess. He handled second unit action photography in relative obscurity on some 20 major features. That was in addition to shooting miles of film for documentaries, independent features (e.g., Mo Money and Josh and Sam), telefilms and commercials.
Finally, in 1994, serendipity came knocking at his door. Forrest Gump was his first mainstream feature. From the beginning, there was something about the story that made him feel good. Maybe it was the underlying theme: “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” Following are extracts of a conversation with Burgess, tracking his path to Forrest Gump and the aftermath of his first Oscar nomination:
When did you know you wanted to be a cinematographer?
BURGESS: When I was 14. I grew up in the Pacific Palisades. My father was a contractor, and I helped him build swimming pools when I was a teenager. He was an avid 16 mm film hobbyist. Maybe that rubbed off on me. A family friend, Johnny Stevens, was a cinematographer, who traveled around the world shooting commercials. I thought it was a great life. I was fascinated by the mystique of photography. I took thousands of still photos, and ran a black and white lab at home while I was in high school. I enrolled at the Art Center after checking into a lot of other programs. By the end of my first year there, I was certain I wanted to be a feature film cinematographer. That was my dream.
How did you get involved with second unit photography?
BURGESS: I was very athletic, so I could rappel off a mountain while holding a camera. I shot second unit on Runaway Train, and that led to Backdraft and other work.
Were there advantages starting your career doing all of that shooting instead of coming up through the more traditional crew system in Hollywood?
BURGESS: It was a moot point. I couldn’t get into the Guild at that time. Looking back, I think shooting all those documentaries made me very comfortable with thinking on my feet, and using the camera to tell a story. I also spent a lot of time with editors, watching how stories are pieced together from beginning to end, and learning about structure. I think my approach to photography is much stronger today because of those experiences.
Did you ever lose hope?
BURGESS: There were times when I wondered if I was ever going to get a break. You hit a lot of stumbling blocks. You have to keep believing in yourself.
How has Gump made a difference in your career?
BURGESS: It opened a lot of doors that weren't there before. I’m seeing more and better scripts. After Gump, I shot Richie Rich and Forget Paris. But, if you do this work for a living, you can't wait forever for great scripts and directors. It helps if you are shooting commercials, because it gives you more time to wait for the right project.
How did you get the opportunity to shoot Forrest Gump?
BURGESS: A few years, ago, I was going to turn down a second unit job, because I didn’t want to get stereotyped. I heard that Bob Zemeckis was directing, and I thought he was brilliant. That’s why I agreed to second unit for Back to the Future II. That led to Back to the Future III and Death Becomes Her. When Bob directed Tales From The Crypt film for TV, he asked me to shoot it. Those were the stepping stones leading to Forrest Gump.
What was your first reaction when Bob Zemeckis asked you to shoot Forrest Gump? Did you know it was something extraordinary?
BURGESS: Everyone who read the script was inspired. It gave me goosebumps. That doesn’t mean we knew it was going to be successful. Absolutely not. We knew we were making a unique film that had a lot of heart. The script made you laugh and it made you cry. But I can’t tell you that everybody felt 100 percent confident when we started shooting. You don't feel that way when you start a movie. Nobody really knows what makes the magic work until you start shooting, and seeing it in dailies.
I was wondering why the decision was made to shoot this film in wide-screen anamorphic format, and who made that decision?
BURGESS: Bob (Zemeckis) asked what I thought. I didn't visualize it as an anamorphic film at first. But, I thought about Bob’s (Zemeckis) vision, and I started thinking about who Gump was in relationship to the rest of the world. I realized that you always have to see him in relationship to his environment. I also realized that the wider frame would give us more freedom to compose images of Gump that were a little odd or off-center. It was a subtle thing. With the PRIMO anamorphic lenses, it is also easier to work in the wide-screen format today. The old anamorphic lenses are much slower and somewhat softer. We have a much larger palette of tools today. That gives us a lot more flexibility, but we also have to make more decisions.
How about the basic look? How was that designed?
BURGESS: There was a group, including production designer Rick Carter, Steve Starkey, Bob and myself. I felt that since this character (Gump) weaves through history, we had to be as true to reality as possible. We visually defined each era, and tried to select locations that fit those models. We used icons of the periods that registered instantly with the audience. That told them where they were in time in any scene. Some of the decisions weren’t obvious. We looked for locations with Spanish Moss and oak trees for scenes staged in the South. We also looked at a lot of houses, before we decided what Forrest Gump’s house in Alabama should look like. I used a satellite navigation system to determine the angle of the sun on various days when we would be shooting. We selected a spot and built the house at an angle that was exactly right for the position of the sun when we were going to shoot key scenes.
You better explain that.
BURGESS: With a GPS (geophysical positioning system) you log in exactly where you are on the planet, and than allows you to figure out the angle of the sun for any day o the year in 15 minute increments. There are certain moments in the film where we wanted the images to be perfect. We scheduled shooting of those scenes with the light coming from a certain direction at a particular time of day. You can't do that with every shot, but you pick out certain moments, and try like hell to make it work.
Can you give us a specific example of how you used the GPS?
BURGESS: There is archival footage in Forrest Gump that we used to establish places and periods. The live-action film had to match the look, including the position of the sun in the sky. We built the house set on the USC campus so the sun was going to be in the right places in the sky on the December days when we planned to shoot. That helped us match the archival footage seamlessly.
Is there an overall look?
BURGESS: There are different looks for the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. I chose a film stock, filter pack and color of light for each period. The 1950s scenes were basically a Norman Rockwell look. It’s the softest look in the film. The park bench scenes in present time are the sharpest, cleanest images. There also were certain visual twists, like the Vietnam scenes. Bob (Zemeckis) didn’t want a gritty 16 mm look. That’s become too much of a visual metaphor. We defined the Vietnam scenes as ultra-realistic. The quality of the light was harder and more serious than anywhere else in the movie, and there’s no diffusion.
How do you keep up with all of the advances in imaging technology?
BURGESS: You shoot tests and keep trying new things. In Gump, I think I used every film Kodak makes because that was useful for differentiating periods. On Forget Paris, I mainly used (Eastman EXR) 5293 film, because of the colors of sets and costumes. A lot of the movie takes place in a restaurant, and there is a big ensemble cast. I wanted a lot of depth of field, and I wanted to capture the ambiance of the setting. When I shot my tests, the 93 was the film that jumped off the screen. It was the right film stock for that setting in that movie.
What's the most important rule for a cinematographer?
BURGESS: You have to put the story ahead of everything else. I never put the photography first. I’m not trying to win awards for beautiful pictures. You have to be true to the script. If you do that, your creativity will come to the surface. It’s also important for the cinematographer to be empathetic with the actors. They have to trust you and feel comfortable. You have got to make them believe that the entire crew is on their side. You have got to establish rapport and get to know the actors before you start shooting, because when the gun goes off on the first day of shooting, you don't slow down until it's over. It’s the same with the director. The more time you spend with them, they better you understand what they are trying to do. Chances are that you’ll make up for that time during photography because of better communications. One of the biggest problems today is that you have to fight for prep time.
How do you establish rapport with directors?
BURGESS: I look at their films, and talk to people who have worked with them on the set and in the editing room. You've got to realize that for some 80 odd days you are going to be working with this person. This is urgent because the only good films are made by directors who truly have a vision of what the movie is supposed to be about. Bad films happen when the producer, cinematographer and director are making their own versions of the same movie. That can happen when you aren’t communicating.
There has been so much said and written about the great visual effects in Forrest Gump. But I think the bottom line was that the audience liked Tom Hanks and his character. They believed the situations, and wanted him to succeed.
BURGESS: We worked hard to make the movie seamless, so you believed that he was really shaking hands with Lyndon Johnson, and the fact that the guy doesn't have legs. The visual effects are superb, but I think it all comes down to story-telling, and you have to credit the actors and Bob (Zemeckis) for that. You are creating a journey for the audience. A film like this is like a ride, and the camera is a stand-in for the audience.
How much of your job involves being opportunistic?
BURGESS: No one really knows exactly how Tom Hanks is going to read that line until he actually does it. When you put two actors together in a scene, a lot of times I'm dazzled by the direction they've taken. I had no idea they would go that way. You have to adapt your lighting and everything you've preconceived at that moment. It doesn’t happen often. But those are the magic moments that the audience remembers.
Is there more freedom today to make those kinds of changes?
BURGESS: I try to pre-rig to allow myself to be flexible on the day we shoot. I plan for what-ifs, and give myself options to react to opportunities. In Forget Paris, we switched an interior day scene to night and a night scene to day at the moment of photography. The set was lit to go both ways. I think it just dawned on Billy (Crystal) that the feelings he wanted to express played better at night. It is never easy on the director. They are taking chances. In Gump, for instance, we had a lot of scenes that started on a TV set with either somebody taking their first step on the moon, or a president being shot. We would come off that TV image and go to a live-action shot. We had some scenes where there were probably 15 to 20 minutes where the light was right. It takes a lot of guts for a director to agree that the light will be fantastic between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m., because if you don’t make the shot, you have to come back tomorrow. It’s a lot easier if the performers are Tom Hanks and Sally Field, and you can get three or four takes before losing the light. You can count on at least one being perfect. You can get some amazing shots when you are working with brilliant actors and a strong director.
Is the passion still there after 20 years, or has it become a job?
BURGESS: I only recently met Vilmos Zsigmond and Haskell Wexler. Haskell came on the set wearing a Bubba Gump Shrimp hat. It was nice to see that he still has that sparkle in his eyes. Vilmos was the same. He still loves what he's doing. That’s inspiring for someone like me. To answer your question: I love photography as much as I did when I was shooting my first film in college. I also still love the process of making films. There are times when you feel very alone out there. However, for the most part, I like the idea that when you are making a big crane move or dolly shot with lighting cues, there are 20 or more people in the crew who have to mesh perfectly with the performers to make the scene work.
Source : Bob Fisher sur "On Production" en (1995)