“Whether you’re a cameraman or a director, you should ask yourself every now and then, ‘What am I trying to do?’ Be honest and keep things very simple.” -James Wong Howe, ASC
My lecturer once told me: “The worst thing you can do is to be on set not knowing what you want.”
“If someone asked, ‘What did you think of the photography?’ and the reply was, ‘I don’t know. I didn’t notice it,’ then I would feel I had succeeded.” -Jack Cardiff, ASC, BSC
I remember in Year 2, my group was to adapt a scene in a film (we chose Ed Wood). There was a long take of a character being high in drugs, starting from the ground low angle, behind the door and it moves across the door to be a slightly low angle, MCU of the character. We only had the camera, with no jib or dolly and were limited with the amount of space the room offered. So, I hid behind the door and shot what I could, then quickly passed the camera to my director (Jacky), and he continued with the shot. We also had no assistant cameraman or grips, so that was the best we could do. But when my lecturer and other classmates saw it, they did not question how that shot was accomplished. To me, that gave us such great satisfaction. 🙂
“I see an incredible abuse of close-ups in many films these days. Why is that?” -Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC
Like the film Twilight, so much CUs were used my friends and I felt so uncomfortable watching it. Till now, we still dont quite understand why those CUs were used even when they were not needed. I realise that if you use little CUs, and when you need it, use an important CU, the impact is great! (Like in a scene in Sweeney Todd of Ben Barker in the attic)
“When you make something you like and audiences reject it, the experience can be painful. But I’ve discovered…that when you make something you aren’t exactly satisfied with, and someone tells you it’s great, that’s even mor…e painful and frustrating.” -Jean-Pierre Jeunet
My test shoot footage. My friends saw it and they liked the effect Digital Intermediate had on the image. I somehow felt that it didnt quite help in the story and didn’t quite like the image. But oh wells, I’m on the midst of finding the best possible ‘fantasy sequence’ look.
“It’s always exciting to try a new piece of gear, but sometimes two grips pulling a camera on a blanket is still the best solution.” -Glen MacPherson, ASC
YEAH MAN! My crew and I once did a shoot of a guy running down a long carpark as he chased a girl. They had me in a supermarket trolley and 3 strong guys pulled it down the road. The effect was great, well motivated and simple to execute (expect for the guys running on a hot afternoon). Haha! I don’t know if dolly, steadicam or even cranes can get that kind of simple, humble effect 🙂
“Learn the rules before you try to bend or break them. You need a foundation on which to build.” -Douglas Slocombe, BSC
I always hear friends say “SCREW THE RULES, IN THIS FILM, WE BREAK ALL OF THEM.” But it seemed they don’t even know what the rules were in the first place. Its tempting to do so, but sometimes we got to control ourselves..
“There are films that are pure entertainment, but there are also films that stay with you forever. I don’t think anything compares to a great film that has soul.” -Xavier Perez Grobet, ASC, AMC
Wow.. How true. Little Princess, while not the best films ever made, meant so much to me. So did Julia, The Third Man, 400 Blows, KKHH, Three Seasons, Se7en, Crash, Spirited Away, Lunch Date, Nosferatu, The Departed, Meet Joe Black, Y tu mama tambien, In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express….. And so much more!
“Every shot I have ever made has been a compromise in some way. No image has ever been as good as the one I envisioned in my mind’s eye.” -Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC
I feel this way too, but thats maybe I’m not as competent enough sometimes. HAHA!
“Sometimes, I think having less money can lead to more artistry.” – Sven Nykvist, ASC
You have to create from scratch. And the less you have, the more you need to show with what you have. So it might just as well get better then it could have been with a huge budget 🙂 (Note to self: This is what I need to keep in mind for my final year project…)
“Cinematography is a job that can be either boringly technical or magical. I was never trained to be that technical, so for me, it has to be magical.” – Fred Elmes, ASC
Nice 🙂 Some films I’ve seen are pure magic.
“You can read, you can watch, you can study, and one should do all those things, but it’s the physical reality of doing it that makes a difference. You need to make mistakes to really learn and move forward.” – Lisa Rinzler
I’ve heard so many warnings of to do’s and not to do’s and I’ve tried so hard to remember them all, but making mistakes seemed to make me learn more, in the hard way. Now I believe I will be so much more careful when it comes to hair in gate, dirty lenses, awkward compositions, distracting lighting ratios, and motivated lighting ‘styles’.
A man’s experiences are not infinite. And a good director can only bring something special to what he really knows about.” – Conrad Hall, ASC
Yeah. I have to learn to trust my director.
“One final thing a director needs: The ability to say ‘I am wrong’ or ‘I was wrong.’ Not as easy as it sounds. But in many situations, these 3 words, honestly spoken, will save the day.” – Elia Kazan
Perhaps everyone needs to know and dare to say this. But what the director says nonetheless have the greatest impact to the group, whether you like it or not.
“Sometimes I feel ashamed at my lack of interest in all the new techniques of modern filmmaking, but I prefer to work with as little equipment as possible. If I have a good lens and a steady camera, that’s all I need.” – Sven Nykvist, ASC
I feel that somehow too many equipment distracts us from really wanting to tell the story, and tempt us to be too caught up with cool effects and styles.
“I’d say to anyone trying to break into the business: Don’t just be interested in movies. Be interested in life. Be a person. Be in touch.” – Haskell Wexler, ASC
Anything can be made into a movie. But what makes a film so personal is the issues that it touches on and explains- mostly on mankind the the human life. Thats what not many movies can bring across.
“In my opinion, it’s much better for a film to be clumsy but sincere than technically slick but empty.” – Raoul Coutard
So well said! Soul, as they say..
“I urge students not to use their light meters blindly, but to use them creatively. There’s no such thing as a ‘correct exposure.’ Correct exposure is that which gives us our desired effects and tones.” – Subrata Mitra, ISC
Thats what my lecturer told us too. I’ll always keep this in mind. You got to know what you want..
“I think of filmmaking as a form of communication. Maybe it’s also an art, but that’s for somebody else to decide.” – Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC
🙂 You’re telling a story. Well said!!
“I don’t think I have a style. I know I don’t want one.” – Conrad Hall, ASC, in “Masters of Light”
Conrad will always be a cinematographer I respect 🙂 A good cinematographer’s got to be flexible. What he/she shoots got to complement the story, above all else.
These are some of the best quotes I’ve seen so far in the Facebook link of American Cinematographer, spoken by some of the best, wise and experienced cinematographers in the world. Some of them are so simple, but they mean so much..