Below is a first excerpt from my interview with cinematographer Christopher Doyle at the 2012 Camerimage Festival in Poland, on the subject of the artistic process.
Hong Kong filmmaker
Christopher Doyle was born in Australia, but after years of roaming, he finally settled in Hong Kong, and his work as a cinematographer there helped to define the beautiful formalism of contemporary Asian cinema. He is best known for his collaboration with Wong Kar-Wai, for whom he shot 7 films including Chungking Express, Happy Together, 2046 and the sublime In the Mood for Love, a reference for many students of cinema.
Chris’ work on Hero for Yimou Zhang is also stunning. The other directors Chris has worked with include Zhang Yuan, Gus Van Sant, Phillip Noyce, James Ivory, M. Night Shyamalan and Neil Jordan.
Christopher Doyle, HKSC – photo Benjamin B
When I first met Chris in Bangkok ten years ago, he told me that he wanted to become the Keith Richards of cinematography, and he sure has succeeded in acquiring a reputation for drinking and partying. He has also shown a penchant for making provocative, sometimes hasty, statements to the press…
the A word
Last December at Camerimage Chris demonstrated his proclivity for dialogue with young filmmakers, by holding 3 well-attended late-night seminars, where he discussed music videos, cinematography and, more generally, art.
Some cinematographers shy away from the A word, and call themselves craftsmen. I feel that such modesty is inaccurate: cinematography really is a technological art form, and cinematographers are indeed artists, alongside directors and actors. It is in this spirit that I began my interview by asking Chris for his thoughts on the artistic process.
the singer, not the song
Chris speaks eloquently about the artistic process, stating that it’s not about making art, it’s about becoming an artist.
You can also watch the interview on YouTube
You can see more of the interview on thefilmbook site, where Chris speaks about dealing with mistakes and engaging with filmmakers, among other things.
In The Mood for Love on YouTube
BBC featurette about Christopher Doyle
My interview with director Peter Weir about his creative process