Archive for the 'thefilmbook' Category

Cinematographers at Cannes 2015

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThe 2015 Cannes Film Festival has just begun. Although there is a lot of publicity about the films and directors at Cannes, much less is said about the cinematographers.

As a start, this post lists some of the films that will be screened in the next 11 days, and identifies some of cinematographers involved. There are, of course, many more…

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Actress Ingrid Bergman on the poster for the 2015 Cannes film festival

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Gordon Willis: A Web Reference

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post is a Web reference for the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, with annotated links to all the interesting online texts and videos, interviews and articles, that I could find about the cinematographer.


In a future post, I will offer a conclusion to my three previous posts about Gordon Willis. The posts were based on the tribute I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage 2014, with help from ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. (My friend Stephen recently finished writing a book about Gordon.)

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Gordon Willis receiving a standing ovation at the ceremony for his 2009 honorary Oscar

In preparing my future post, I wanted to be sure that I consulted all the most important online material about Gordon. As I researched, compiled and annotated this list of links, I realized that it might be of service to others interested in exploring Gordon’s work, as there is no other such reference, to my knowledge.

So below is my annotated web reference for Gordon Willis. Note that this resource does not include any film excerpts, just material directly about Gordon, and his cinematography.

1. AC tribute
2. Richard Crudo
3. John Bailey
4. Gordon’s Oscar
5. Visions of Light
6. Cinematographer Style
7. Craft Truck
8. other interviews
9. articles & biographies
10. the Willis frame
11. selected obituaries
12. thefilmbook

Of course, I would be delighted to get any additions or comments you may have. So, if I have missed some important text or video, please let me know. I plan to keep updating this page so it can remain a good reference.
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Gordon Willis Tribute – THE GODFATHER PART II

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post continues excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with help from ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. My friend Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about Gordon.

This third post focuses on the wonderful cinematography of The Godfather, Part II. If you haven’t read the previous posts about the first Godfather, I encourage you to do so before reading this one.

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Gordon Willis, ASC, takes a reading on the set of The Godfather as director Francis Ford Coppola and camera operator Michael Chapman, ASC, look on in the background (photo: ASC archive at AMPAS)

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1. visual coherence
2. 12 time shifts
3. the best epic
4. hitting marks
5. Fanucci’s murder
6. storytelling
7. Fredo’s murder
8. dump truck coverage

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Gordon Willis Tribute – THE GODFATHER

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post continues excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with comments by ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. My friend Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about Gordon.

This second post focuses on the wonderful cinematography of The Godfather. If you haven’t read the first post about Klute, I encourage you to do so before reading this one.

Because of a prior commitment, Caleb was absent from the discussion about Klute, but he was able to join us for this portion of the tribute.

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Marlon Brando as Don Vito in The Godfather, 1972

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2 masterpieces

During the tribute to Gordon Willis at Camerimage, we screened excerpts from The Godfather, 1972, and The Godfather Part II, 1974. These two films by Francis Ford Coppola are landmarks in world cinema. The two films re-invented the gangster genre, and contributed to the New Wave of American film in the 1970s. Both met with great critical and commercial success.

Like many masterpieces, these films have it all: engaging scripts, incredible actors, masterful directing, memorable music, evocative art direction… And then there is Gordon Willis’ extraordinary cinematography that combines restrained compositions and movements with gutsy, revolutionary lighting.

The Godfather was nominated for 11 Oscars. Amazingly, neither film was nominated for cinematography, proof perhaps that Gordon’s approach was too radically different from the conventions of the day to be recognized.

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Gordon Willis Tribute – KLUTE

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post features excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with comments by ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond.

This first post focuses on the pioneering cinematography of Klute.

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The tribute took place during the 2014 Camerimage Festival

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tribute at camerimage

When I saw the 2014 Camerimage schedule and realized there was no event dedicated to Gordon Willis, I called my friend and colleague Stephen Pizzello and asked him if he would help me organize a tribute event. Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about the cinematographer. The book will be titled Gordon Willis on Cinematography.

Steve and I spent a few days selecting clips and preparing the event, and recruited ASC cinematographers Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond who kindly agreed to comment on the work of their legendary colleague. (Caleb does not appear in this first post, he joined us later because of a prior commitment). We had a full house, and the event was very well received.

We showed clips from Gordon’s work with 3 key directors: Klute, The Parallax View and All the President’s Men by Alan J. Pakula, The Godfather I and The Godfather II by Francis Ford Coppola, and Annie Hall and Manhattan by Woody Allen. I came away with a renewed appreciation of Gordon Willis’ unique mixture of methodical rigor and pioneering poetry.

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Almost Famous – 6 Extra Cinematography Nominees

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post presents 6 cinematographers that were not nominated for the 3 major awards this past season.


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Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan with cinematography by Gökhan Tiryaki

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and the nominees were…

Many of us are presently suffering from post-awards-season fatigue. The months of December to January are filled with a flurry of Hollywood award shows. This implies a lot of press coverage, with ink and pixels, focused on about a dozen films, and their filmmakers.

For cinematographers of English-language films, the major awards are given by the ASC, BAFTA and the Oscars. These 3 awards are intertwined, and confer a level of fame to cinematographers that is not yet achieved by other honors. This year’s nominees included wonderful work by 7 cinematographers:

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Mommy – Interview with André Turpin

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post is an expanded version of my interview with André Turpin about his striking cinematography for Mommy in the February issue of American Cinematographer. I met with André at Camerimage.

This text may make more sense if you have read my interview with the film’s director, Xavier Dolan, in the previous post.


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Cinematographer André Turpin interviewed at Camerimage (photo Benjamin B)

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Mommy – Interview with Xavier Dolan

thefilmbook by Benjamin BMy interview with André Turpin about his striking cinematography for Mommy is in the February issue of American Cinematographer.

This post presents an interview with the film’s brilliant young director, Xavier Dolan, which I conducted after the print deadline.

I will return to the previous theme of LUTs in a future post.


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Andre Turpin and Xavier Dolan on set of Mommy-

Cinematographer André Turpin with director Xavier Dolan on the set of Mommy (photo Shayne Laverdière)

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LUTs 1: Searching for Turner’s Palette

thefilmbook by Benjamin BGreetings from Sweden, where I am attending the Gokinema event at Gothenburg Film Studios.

This post supplements my article in the January issue of American Cinematographer about the beautiful film Mr. Turner. The movie’s dazzling images have earned cinematographer Dick Pope, BSC, nominations from the ASC, BAFTA and the Academy.

Obviously the sophisticated look of Mr. Turner is the result of many choices by Dick and his team. In this post, I describe an aesthetic approach to researching and defining a palette that acted as one of the references for the look of the film, and also its on-set LUTs (Look-Up Tables).

A future post will offer a more technical analysis of LUTs, with the hope of helping to demystify this cinematography technology.

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Turner’s Chelsea palette at the Tate

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Douglas Trumbull – Future Filmmaking

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I have temporarily changed my logo to express my solidarity with my fellow citizens during this important moment in French history.

This post concludes the account of my discussion with the legendary Douglas Trumbull during IBC.

In the first post, Douglas presented his belief in the importance of temporal continuity between the camera and the projector. In the second post he shared his vision of the future of theatrical movies. Here he shares his insights about future filmmaking approaches and techniques.


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Cinema technology pioneer Douglas Trumbull during our interview

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