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Cinematography in Foreign Language (1 reply)

1 month ago
rafadelacruz 1 month ago

Hi Roger and forum,

Could you conceive of being cinematographer on a film in a foreign language you didn't speak? I suppose you didn't understand much of what was being said in Eritrea (unless you have hidden Tigrinya talents!) when you were a documentarian, so you have some experience. And there are modalities to consider. If Melville (RIP) offered you a French script you'd probably scrape by on schoolyard French, no? You'd have a general sense of what was being said. But suppose Zvyagintsev asked for your talents. Would you be able to cope with (or have any interest in) a language so esoteric to a native English speaker? Would it be too much to have an on-set translator and ultimately detract from the work, or "where there's a will, there's a way." Would you feel out of depth culturally, that is, feel unsuited to portray a cultural mileu which is alien to you? Though it must be said that Kundun is a wonderful example of westerners capturing some truth about a way of life totally alien to them, without the usual "Western gaze." Or maybe I just missed it due to my own blind spots!

Any other cinematographers with experience/thoughts on shooting in foreign languages and cultures feel free to add your 2 cents.


The Byre
1 month ago
The Byre 1 month ago

This reminds me of a Disney shoot in Germany where the director had learned German just for the shoot.  A definite clash of cultures - actress who didn't like the words, operator who thought daylight was good enough and grips who moaned about having to move a jib (and all sorts of other stuff) about.

As soon as this C19 business blows over, I am supposed (i.e. hoping!) to be producing/directing a very dark comedy in German, English and Gaelic.  My first language was German and I learned to read and write in English, but I don't speak a word of Gaelic.  If it ever happens, I'll report back!

I have ideas on how to crack that one, but ideas are a very long way from execution!  

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