THOUGHTS

ACTION !

The way the director says « Action ! » is very important in order to get what (s)he wants in the shot. You can yell « Action! », you can say it softly, quietly, sensually, with sadness, or full of joy, amused… Saying « Action! » is not just a convention we use to tell to the actors to start to play, it can really create a mood, it can help the crew and actors to focus and to perform the right way. So don’t forget to say, it, and most of all, say it the right way depending on the scene: your « Action! » will bring the right energy, and the success of a shot can really depend on it.

THERE IS NO LIGHT WITHOUT SHADOWS

I very often hear directors or gaffers complaining when they see a shadow on a shot, for example, a shadow projected on a wall. The evolution of esthetics nowadays leads towards an image that is more and more soft, more and more flat, with less and less shadows and depth. And directors and gaffers always tend to think that when there is a shadow, then it is a mistake.

But as a cinematographer, I work with shadows as much as I work with light. A shadow will indicate the direction of a light, it will help you hide elements on the frame, it helps to create a certain contrast… Shadows are a tool you must use to express a vision, a mood, an atmosphere. And the light exists only if there are shadows.

In the everyday life, there are shadows everywhere. And sometimes, there are even multiple shadows projected, because of the presence of different sources of light. Shadows can be realistc, or they can be totally exagerated. So what? Cinema can also be a way to express things in a poetic way.

The only right and correct way to deal with shadows is the way that expressed the right emotion in a scene.

IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO SEE EVERYTHING

It is OK if every element on a shot is not visible. The art of cinema is much more an art of evocation than an art of showing. In TV news, you try to show everything, so that the information is clear for the audience. But in cinema, in the contrary, you must think not of what you want to show, but of what you want to hide, by working with the shadows, underexposure, or with the off screen, by deciding what you leave out of the frame. Sound is also a good element to help something invisible to exist.

What you hide will not be absent, in the contrary: it will be even more present in the mind of the audience, thanks to the power of imagination. Besides, it will help creating a depth to the image, and make the shot exist beyond its frame.

The art of cinematography starts when you decide what not to show.

A PROBLEM ALWAYS GENERATES MORE PROBLEMS

When you face a problem during a shooting, take the time to fix it. Because the more you will wait to fix it, or the more you will rush hoping the problem will disappear by itself, and the more the problem will become bigger, or even worse: it will create other problems. It is better to spend 5 minutes fixing a problem than to lose hours because this problem is not fixed. If people are rushing you, stay calm, explain them why it is important to fix the problem as soon as possible, and work step by step. People will maybe never realize that you just saved a delicate situation, because they are not aware of the catastroph that could have happened: they would be aware of it only if this catastroph actually happens, and then, they would put the blame on you for not having avoided it. In these cases, it is better to be intransigent than to be careless.

If problems were fixed from the very beginning, events like Chernobyl or Fukushima would have never happened.