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value of perspective (2 replies)

Jayrobande
4 weeks ago
Jayrobande 4 weeks ago

Hello, Roger

A fellow camera man and I were discussing some of the director of photography's we liked the most and their qualities. Something we kept coming back to was how each of our 'favorites' have their own perspectives. For example, Emmanuel Lubezki's use of wide angle lens is consistent throughout much of his work. Though, of course, there are exceptions. 

We felt that in the films that you have collaborated on, there is a consistency there as well (from content, to tone, and so on). Your discussion of how to film a conversation (OTS versus singles) is something I always spot in the films you've shot because I know it's intentional. 

All of this led me to think about how much we should value the way we perceive things ourselves, as young camera men.  I've learned a thousand different ways to light and frame something, but I've had trouble finding a consistency between them (not that it matters). The differences are apparent and I've never been sure of how much I should value that I can be elastic and I can see whatever the director (or whoever is in charge) wants with enough communication. I wouldn't dare say that I should only see things certain ways, but the more you work, the more one does begin to favor a certain way of working or seeing. 

So my question to you is, how much do you value your own perspective when asked to film something? And how much should a young camera person value how they develop their own perspective? 

Thanks,

J

Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

I think it is possible to be versatile as well as follow your own perspective. For myself, I couldn't do otherwise.

Cinematography is not just a matter of technique.

Wouter
3 weeks ago
Wouter 3 weeks ago

What you talk about is a bit like the classic dogma dilemma. As well as the philosophical issue of choice and free will.

A more practical answer would be that everything depends on context, which doesn't seem like it but is really much more of a practical answer than you would probably believe.

From cold hard economic efficiency towards the vast, boundless resorts of artistic creativity: it's a balance, an agreement between the two. The vision must be rooted firmly in the earth or it won't take.

Setting the ink on the paper is the hardest thing to do if you realize the responsibility. And then again, you're completely free to do as you please, to experiment as you may.

We all create our little dogma's in order to justify our actions, our choices. But the really greats, they don't. They use intuition. No thought, no emotion. Pure intuition. When it appears "right" to you; no justification needed.

You can do your own thing, experiment, with the risk of failure, willing to carry that burden. You can play it safe and become successful by completely adhering to and copying the trends of the times.

As a cinematographer, developing your own perspective can also be dangerous; in general, it would be a bad idea to drown out your director's vision. As well as ignore golden opportunities out of principle. Or the opposite.

It's a question with no real answers other than; the choice is yours.

When in doubt; flip a coin. That's what I do more often than I would like to admit. In the end the choice to flip the coin was still yours. The choice to do as the coin says, also still yours. The actual outcome of the coin: your thumb's doing.

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