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Old July 28th, 2002, 04:43 AM   #1
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Who's your favourite Cinematographer or Director?

And Why???

I am starting this thread because of a post by Keith Loh when he mentioned the Hong Kong Director Wong Kar Wai, who has a long friendship and collaboration with cinematographer Chris Doyle. We both agree Doyle is a great example and one I personally learned a lot from.

One cannot talk about cinematography without mentioning Barry Sonnenfield who shot "Blood simple" for the Coen Brothers... I still get goosebumbs when I see the hovering bar table shot.

Then there is the slow motion sequence of Jesus bowling in the "Big Lebowsky".

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Old July 28th, 2002, 05:23 AM   #2
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Conrad Hall

Of Cinematographers:

I have a few favourites. One of them is the great Conrad Hall who is the best thing about "Road to Perdition". Whatever that movie's faults, its look is not one of them. Hall's career has produced some well-known and not so well-known films that had a glowing look such as Electra Glide in Blue, Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke and The Professionals. Of course he has come back into recognition with American Beauty and will surely be nominated for Road to Perdition.

Gordon Willis who shot many of the classic 70s films such as the Godfather (I and II), Bad Company, Manhattan, Klute and All the President's Men helped form that 'look' of gritty realism that made that decade.

Darius Khondji is an excellent new talent who lenses both European and American films that have a dark look such as the Jeunet et Caro films: Delicatessen and City of Lost Children and David Finscher's Se7en, Fight Club and Panic Room. He is probably one of the most admired of cinematographers in the past decade.

Vittorio Storraro has had a checkered career recently but in the past he was responsible for the striking big scale, widescreen beauties: Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor, Reds and the Sheltering Sky.

A director who takes more control over cinematography and achieves a striking look is the legendary Terrence Malick who has directed only a handful of films and made his mark with each one. He made two of the most beautiful films of the 70s: Badlands and Days of Heaven and then skipped a decade until he was enticed out of teaching to make The Thin Red Line which in any other year but the year that Saving Private Ryan became a phenomenon would have intrigued Academy voters enough to win instead of just be nominated for a slate of awards.

There are many many more...
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Old July 28th, 2002, 06:41 AM   #3
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Mind you, I just woke up and I'm waiting on the coffee, otherwise my list would be more robust. That said, my favorite Director would have to be Kevin Smith. The man is amazing, not so mush for his cinematic abilities, but the fact that the guy is one of us- with a lot of talent, and wearing many hats. He writes, directs, acts, and is a 'Graphic Novelist' ( Comic books for us older folks ).

If anyone has seen Clerks , it will be apparent that it was shot Guerilla style. Not much money, using friends as actors, and working with what he got.
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Old July 28th, 2002, 01:31 PM   #4
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Ah. Terrence Mallick - excellent choice. Great genius.

I have a soft spot for Roman Polanski. Visual trickster and one of the few now living directors that has a very own "world" that he brings you into right from the start. He's not always great but he is always original. I think The Ninth Gate was a very underrated film (with cinematography by Khondji and brilliant musik by Vojtek Kilar).

Werner Herzog is anorther one of my faves. He too has that "world" thing going. I think having that ability is the hardest part about directing. After 30 seconds you always no Herzog directed.
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Old July 28th, 2002, 07:18 PM   #5
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Luc Besson

His ability to match music with mood, and to create mood w/music, is unmatched in my opinion. His unpredictability is refreshing, true CINEMA. Ref. "The Professional", "The Messenger", and "The 5th Element". "Big Blue" is his next release, be there.
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Old July 28th, 2002, 07:21 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Eric Emerick : Luc Besson

"Big Blue" is his next release, be there. -->>>

"Big Blue" is one of his first big budget films. Do you mean the DVD release?
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Old July 28th, 2002, 11:42 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Keith Loh : <<<-- Originally posted by Eric Emerick : Luc Besson

"Big Blue" is his next release, be there. -->>>

"Big Blue" is one of his first big budget films. Do you mean the DVD release? -->>>

I'm a Luc Besson fan too, although he's not my Fav choice. I thought Big Blue came out the in early 90's? The Professional is in my 10 Fav movies of all time list.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 02:55 AM   #8
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Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) was released in 1988. I like Besson but I think he often walks the thin line between smart and kitsch. His first film Le Derniere Combat (The Final Combat?) is one of his best. Shot in black and white Techniscope with absolutely no dialogue. It's set in a post apocalyptic future. Great movie!

Personally I can't stand The Fifth Element. It's loud and ugly. It's every comic strip out of the original French Heavy Metal redone in the worst way. I'ts so overplayed. It could have been great minus all the kitsch. Only Baz Luhrmann can be more cheezy...
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Old July 29th, 2002, 04:18 AM   #9
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Who shot Minority Report? That guy rules.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 11:15 AM   #10
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I've been meaning to see Le Dernier Combat but it is only available here on expensive DVD, never seen it for rent. It does look very interesting. Is it worth owning?

The cinematographer for "Minority Report" is Janusz Kaminski who has been Spielberg's man for his past few.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 12:17 PM   #11
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Ah, I see. I don't get around much, and haven't seen as many and widely varied movies as you guys have, so I don't have all the specialized choices you guys do.

Some of you talk about seeing a movie simply for the cinematography, and I still go only if the story intrigues me.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 12:34 PM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Josh Bass :
Some of you talk about seeing a movie simply for the cinematography, and I still go only if the story intrigues me. -->>>

Yes, for me story is number one. There are lots of movies I know I should be seeing for cinematography but I think that films are so good looking these days that you're bound to see great images in almost any movie. Therefore, story becomes the determining factor.

That said, we do work in a visual medium so the major part of storytelling is the way it is portrayed. I am only now experimenting with blocking shots and putting together a narrative and experiencing first hand how difficult it is. Before, I might have thought that storyboarding would be able to overcome this challenge but I know that this is not the case now. Storyboarding is only part of the solution.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 01:30 PM   #13
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That's an interesting point you bring up, Keith. I have shot a bunch of shorts for inexperienced directors, and several of them have put a great deal of time and energy into creating elaborate storyboards, yet once it comes to the actual shoot they are a bit lost in terms of placing the action in the real world, often flailing when things don't work out as planned and require revamping. (as is relevant to this thread, it's astonishing sometimes how much of the shot design and blocking is underdone by the cinematographer, and the director ends up getting the credit for it).

I think storyboards are useful for instantly communicating to other members of the production what is intended, but in many instances I think a properly written shot list will suffice (having beautifully executed drawings of an angle looking over Bill's shoulder to John who is facing him, doesn't tell me anything more than than reading "OTS Bill to John")
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Old July 29th, 2002, 01:52 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by steadichupap : I have shot a bunch of shorts for inexperienced directors, and several of them have put a great deal of time and energy into creating elaborate storyboards, yet once it comes to the actual shoot they are a bit lost in terms of placing the action in the real world, often flailing when things don't work out as planned and require revamping. -->>>

Again, speaking from an amateur viewpoint, I think a lot of this can be filled in with enough coverage using shots that don't require a lot of set up. For example, handheld. A friend has taught me about breakaways, for example, which now that I know what it is, I'm seeing a lot of it in the movies I view.

<<<--
(as is relevant to this thread, it's astonishing sometimes how much of the shot design and blocking is underdone by the cinematographer, and the director ends up getting the credit for it). -->>>

On another board there was a debate over how much credit Conrad Hall should have received over Sam Mendes for "American Beauty" and "Road to Perdition".

There are some directors who don't use storyboards at all such as Mike Leigh who composes everything on set.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 02:45 PM   #15
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I'm always wondering about this stuff. . .usually I find myself leading the projects I'm in (when I'm part of the creative element, not just the cameraman) so I have to direct and block and DP. I assume the ideal way to do it is to scout your location ahead of time with suitable stand-ins, and figure out the blocking at that time. Then, make a crappy but proportionally correct drawing of the location (sort of like a blueprint), marking the camera positions, and notes of angle of view (low, high, eye level) and composition (CU, MCU, WS), as well as taking stills with a film camera (or even the photo function on the video camera, hell even just a few seconds of video would work, just capture it at home as a single frame and print it to paper).

Is this totally off? I've never actually had it this way. . .it's usually much more hurried. Any advice?
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