Archive for the 'thefilmbook' Category

‘Strangers on a Train’ 1 – Shoes, Script, Auteurs

thefilmbook by Benjamin BGreetings from the coast of Normandie!

Summer is a good time to view and review classic films. It is in this spirit that I begin a commentary on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 masterpiece, Strangers on a Train, filmed by his longtime cinematographer, Robert Burks, ASC.


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Alfred Hitchcock s Strangers on a Train-

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Interview with Harris Savides – The Filmmaking Process

thefilmbook by Benjamin BA few months ago, I posted an audio interview with the late, great Harris Savides, ASC, about his approach to contrast.

This post continues my informal conversation with Harris at the Camerimage Festival many years ago, but this time with a focus on his filmmaking process with director Gus van Sant on the Death Trilogy.


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Last Days 2 by Gus van Sant dp Harris Savides -thefilmbook-

Last Days by Gus van Sant, cinematography by Harris Savides, ASC

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Zsigmond Zooms

thefilmbook by Benjamin BVilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC, received the Pierre Angenieux ExcelLens in Cinematography Award during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

I spoke to my friend Vilmos about the event, and about zooms and zooming.

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Andurand Deneuve Vilmos Zsigmond and his zoom -thefilmbook

Applauded by Pierre Andurand and Catherine Deneuve, Vilmos Zsigmond holds up the ExcelLens zoom lens prize at the Cannes Festival (photo Benjamin B)

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Cannes 2014 – Freeform Filmmaking

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post continues my impressions of the 2014 Cannes International Film Festival.

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The Cannes Film Festival offers a unique view of the current state of world cinema. In 2014 I was struck by the cinematic forms of the films offered.

Farewell to Language -thefilmbook-

Farewell to Language by Jean-Luc Godard

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Cannes 2014 – Women Filmmakers

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post gathers my impressions of a theme I took away from the 2014 Cannes International Film Festival.

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I have been attending the Cannes Film Festival for many years, it offers a wonderful snapshot of world cinema, with a curious mixture of art and commerce.

Some years Cannes leaves me with the impression of a dominant theme, this year I saw the issue of women filmmakers emerge.

Cannes 2014 Women Jurors photo call-

The Cannes women jurors: actresses Leila Hatami, Carole Bouquet & Do-yeon Jeon, directors Jane Campion & Sofia Coppola — Iranian, French, Korean, New Zealander, American.

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4 More Scenes from ‘Ida’

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post continues my in-depth look at scenes from the wonderful Polish film IDA, which I covered in an article in the May issue of the American Cinematographer. Once again I offer video and high-resolution images not available in the print version to present detailed examples of scene lighting.

This 2nd post is intended to be seen after you’ve read the 1st post:
3 Scenes from IDA.

Click on any image in this post to see a bigger version.

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IDA was directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, with cinematography by Lukasz Zal, PSC, and Ryszard Lynzewski, PSC. (Lukasz stepped in for Ryszard early on & shot most of the film.)

As I continued to discuss the lighting setups with Lukasz, he emphasized time and again that the images were the result of his collaboration with his director Pawel.

Pawel Pawlikowski and Lukasz Zal on set of IDA -thefilmbook v2

IDA director Pawel Pawlikowski and cinematographer Lukasz Zal, PSC, watching the camera monitor

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3 Scenes from ‘Ida’

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post complements my article about the stunning Polish film IDA in the May issue of the American Cinematographer, and offers video and high-resolution images not available in the print version. It’s also an opportunity to present detailed examples of scene lighting.

Click on any image in this post to see a bigger version.

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IDA was directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, with cinematography by Lukasz Zal, PSC, and Ryszard Lynzewski, PSC. (Lukasz stepped in for Ryszard early on & shot most of the film.)

As I discussed the lighting setups below with Lukasz, he emphasized that the images were the result of working closely with his director. Pawel shares a similar view: “It’s all about collaboration.

IDA Director Pawel Pawlikowski and cinematographer Lukasz Zal, PSC-

IDA director Pawel Pawlikowski and cinematographer Lukasz Zal, PSC

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Interview with Harris Savides – Contrast

thefilmbook by Benjamin BI had the great privilege of spending some time with the late Harris Savides, ASC, years ago at Camerimage, when he came to present American Gangster, the film he shot for Ridley Scott.

I share here part of our lengthy, impromptu audio interview in 2007 in the Camerimage café in Lodz.


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Harris Savides-

Harris Savides, ASC

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Philippe Rousselot’s book

thefilmbook by Benjamin BCinematographer Philippe Rousselot, AFC, ASC, recently published a wonderful little book on cinematography in France.

Although I cannot do justice to the depth and range of the French text, I have freely translated some excerpts to share a few of the book’s insights.

The bold emphasis is mine, and is not in the original text.


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Philippe Rousselot

Philippe Rousselot is a leading cinematographer whose credits include:
Diva, The Emerald Forest, Thérèse, Hope and Glory, The Bear,
Dangerous Liaisons, Too Beautiful for You, Henry and June,
A River Runs Through It, Interview with the Vampire, Queen Margot, Mary Reilly, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and
Sherlock Holmes.

Philippe’s work has earned him many awards, including an Oscar, a BAFTA, and 3 Cesars

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the book

Philippe’s thin elegant book is part of an ongoing series about “the wisdom of a métier”, and is therefore entitled The Wisdom of the Cinematographer.

The book offers an interesting breakdown of the key themes of cinematography.


Philippe Rousselot La Sagesse du Chef Operateur -thefilmbook-

table of contents

1. Images
2. Words
3. References
4. Movements
5. Order & disorder
6. Lights
7. Colors
8. Time
9. Night, day
10. Faces, landscapes
11. Representations
12. Reflections
13. Escape
14. Metamorphoses
15. Métiers


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Eric Kress Lighting Workshop – part 4

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis is Part 4 of the Lighting Workshop that I organized with cinematographer Eric Kress during Gokinema at Gothenburg Film Studios.

Here I offer a video summary of the workshop, along with links to download the dailies.

The first 3 parts have generated many comments, questions and encouragements, in various blogs on the net, via email and in person. I try to respond to some of this feedback in this post.

If you’re intrigued by the video summary you might want to watch the 3 videos documenting the workshop — starting with PART 1.

Eric Kress Lighting Workshop part 4 - video summary presented by Benjamin B -thefilmbook-

The video summary places the dailies above the lighting diagrams for each of the 6 variations

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