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The process of discovery (3 replies and 2 comments)

Stefano Ferrari
2 months ago
Stefano Ferrari 2 months ago
Hi Roger,
 
I'm curious to know how your process of discovery (which, one hopes, would occur on any new project) has made you, the cinematographer that you are today.
 
Let me articulate: by "process of discovery", I mean all those experiences and choices that were the result of exploring a new territory in your filmmaking. Not per say a technical challenge (on that you could have probably relied on the experience of a technician or the latest technology) but when the challenge of a different approach or the conveyance of a certain feeling, would force you out of the comfort zone. When you knew exactly what wouldn't have worked but were still unsure about what would work for you, your sensibility and the story that you were serving. 
 
In other words, what is Roger Deakins thinking when he is staring at a wall, knowing that the "old recipes" won't do and that a new way has to be found to be true to his instinct? In a world were formulas can give you the comfort of predicting a result, how do you still challenge yourself to explore further? Are there any questions that you might ask yourself, to ignite the thought process?
I'd love to know if any of this discovery process took place during the pre-pro of two very different films: "Revolutionary Road" and "1917".
 
Thank you
Stefano
Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

Certainly there was a 'discovery process' for '1917' as it was both a conceptual and a technical challenge but everything you do is based on experience. Surely, even what we call 'intuition' is based on what has gone before. 'Revolutionary Road' was not the same technical challenge but it wasn't just taking down a formula from the shelf. Every time you start work on a film it is like staring afresh, as if it is your first time. Well, that is the way it is for me, for others it may be different. That is what is make the job so interesting.

Stefano Ferrari
1 month ago

It's absolutely true that intuition draws from experience. I guess this process relies also on the level of confidence that somebody has of their abilities. 
Thank you Roger!

Stefano Ferrari
1 month ago
Stefano Ferrari 1 month ago
But is this a selfless process where we put our experience and intuition at the service of the story and the director's vision or is it something we go through in the first place to satisfy ourselves, given that we are our toughest judges?
 
In other words is creating our "digital print" as cinematographers as important as learning how to dive selflessly into a story? 
 
 
Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I think it has to be both. You are telling the story that the director wants to tell and, I would hope, one that you also want to tell.

Stefano Ferrari
1 month ago

Thanks for your time Roger.

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