Sunday, August 16, 2015

Masters of Light by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato

Masters of Light - Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato, University of California Press, 1984

This book aims to explore the day-to-day working experience of a number of movie cinematographers.  It is a brilliant resource. Fascinating information conveyed via an interview style so easy to dip in and out of. 

This also really brings home how essential it is that the DoP is familiar with art generally, not just technical processes.  They talk about a "painterly use of light" (John Bailey) and that a cameraman "literally has to see as a child does" (Bill Butler).

I think I need to read this book again as I begin the Gesture & Meaning course...

Those featured are:

Nestor Almendros

John Alonzo

John Bailey

Bill Butler

Michael Chapman

Bill Fraker

Conrad Hall

Laszlo Kovacs

Owen Roizman

Vittorio Storaro

Mario Tosi

Haskell Wexler

Billy Williams

Gordon Willis

Vilmos Zsigmond

Tosi: "Cinematography is more than just making pretty pictures." A successful cinematographer is just as familiar with the history of the visual arts as he is with the light sensitivity of  film emulsion ...

The auteur theory is now in decline - filmmaking is a cooperative and collaborative effort by a team of artists, technicians and craftspeople.

The source of light should always be justified.

Almendros: "I believe in limitations and discipline."  "I start from realism. My way of lighting and seeing is realistic. I don't use imagination, I use research. Basically I show things as they are, with no distortion."

Alonzo: "The technology should not control the art."  "There's no such things as just flipping right into becoming a cameraman. For me it was the quality of what I could do plus being there at the right time and being tenacious about it."

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