Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Camerimage 2017

If you are interested in film and are serious about being a Cinematographer then I would highly recommend getting a small group of friends together and visiting the Camerimage festival in Bydgoscve, Poland. Comprising of a small equipment market area most events are held at the Opera Nova in the town centre. However there are many other events held all over the place in varying venues so well worth exploring - plus the old town is a good place for sightseeing and photography. Here are some notes I made whilst visiting Camerimage 2017.

Step onboard
Sunrise on plane
Opera Nova - Camerimage 2017

Having arrived in Poland and familiarised myself with the local surroundings I headed into Bydgoscve center to my first proper day at Camerimage. I made my way to the main event venue ‘Opera Nova’ to assess the schedule and purchasing ticket passes. I decided not to get a week long pass but to instead buy individual passes for specific events (writing this up after the end of the festival I think I should have just brought a weekly pass even though I was only visiting until the Tuesday - full week passes are 390 Zloty - that's about £60). By only purchasing tickets for specific events I found myself having to think a lot more about when and where I could be and uncertain if I could buy a ticket as some events only went on sale 10 mins before they started. The up side however was I wanted to try and do the festival on a budget and managed to do this. a seminar cost 10 zloty and a screening also.

Bus timetable

Local shop near my digs

Im inside the Multikeno in Bydgoscve Poland and am sitting in the waiting area outside the screening rooms. I accidentally bought a ticket for Cocaine Grandmother when I actually asked for a ticket to the Darren Aronofsky film Mother! (Im blaming language translation barrier - i,e I can't speak Polish) Now I am sitting here thinking actually I could try and sneak into the screening I wanted to see that also has a Q&A with Chris Doyle and Anthony Dog Mantis. The staff look like they are quite organised but I don’t know if they will check tickets on entry to the screening rooms. I will sit here and observe what happens. Sometimes I know that after the film starts the steward leaves or sits down. If it is full then it could be very embarrassing but if it isn’t it could be a good event to attend.

Selfie with Christopher Doyle
Well I managed to blag my way through in the company of the visiting Cinematographers and got a good seat. We watched Christopher Doyles latest film ‘The White Girl’ and then after Christopher Doyle, Anthony Dod Mantel, Ed Lachmen and Jenny Suen (Director of The White Girl) sat at the front of the cinema and the ‘Like a Virgin’ discussion started. The concept of the discussion was 'how does each member of the panel keep their approach to film fresh and virgin like'. 

Festival graphics
Like a Virgin discussion
'Like a virgin' music video clip
Canon workshop
Stephen Goldblatt the Cinematographer holding this workshop worked with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda on ‘Our souls at Night’ and in that film he shot them in a bedroom scene. For the workshop he wanted to demonstrate how to light people of age in a flattering way. Also how to film actors in darkness or give the impression of darkness. Modern high sensitivity cameras can film in virtual darkness but the lighting will be flat or unmotivated. Physically on set actors need light to work with and as the audience we need to see their eyes lit.

Workshop with Stephen Goldblatt (ASC BSC)
Lighting demonstration
Recreating a scene from 'Our souls at night'
Our Souls at Night still
Stephen went on to talk about the importance of pre shoot tests. He suggested testing everything prior to the actual shoot. Things that might need testing are wardrobe choices - these may include patterns, textures, qualities that change under different lighting conditions. Make-up, set design also should be looked at. Materials used on screen should be thoroughly checked under varying conditions. On set there won’t be time to experiment as much as in pre-production - shoot tests. It is the Cinematographers responsibility - even if not requested by the production to proactively pursue these things. On set small tweaks that require a lot of attention and focus might not be possible during the chaos of a busy shoot.

He talked about how actors are just people and they have their own personalities and ways of doing things like everyone else. Pre-shoot meetings should occur to allow understanding of each other to develop. When working with actresses they tend to have a strong idea of how they would like to be lit - may have a preferred side of the face. People of age may want to be lit in a flattering way to ensure they are represented as best can be.

A mention of how eye lines are a huge part of the communication with the audience. Techniques like tape on matt box to enable consistent eye lines. Most actors are familiar with the idea of not making eye contact when delivering lines. Using high ISO/Sensitive camera’s used to have lots of lights for example in the 1993 film The Pelican Brief scene on Madison Steet would have used lots of lights to achieve the shot. Now days its possible to achieve the same shot but without an army of trucks and people. Shouldn’t shoot wide open either as you want a large depth of field to see the location as its a part of the story.

Video clip here

Hawk Anamorphic Lenses discussion panel
Attendies: Magdelena Gorka PSC // Andrej Bartkowisk ASC // Stuart Dryburgh ASC // Peter Flinchenberg PSC // Peter Martin (Hawk) // Daniel Pearl ASC

Panel at Hawk Anamorphic Lens Discussion
3 x ranges of lens to cater for different types of sensor.
Mini Hawks - Hybrid anamorphic - 9 primes and 2 zooms
Hawk Class-X - 2X anamorphic - 9 Primes and 2 zooms
Hawk65 - Large format anamorphic - ranges from 40mm to 150mm

Daniel Pearl - Likes the detail in the bokeh after the de-squeez. He only uses rec709 in all his work as used to the solid workflow and can light to the final look.

Mag’s - Likes to stamp the image (creating a destructive/burnt in style that cant be removed from the shots) as knows won’t be part of the grading process.

Andraej - Critical focus is difficult. Finding a consistent look important.

Stewart - Film reference ‘The Secret life of Walter Mitty' he used 1.3X on 3 perth film. 16:9 on Alexa ST also mentioned 16mm.

Peter - Film reference 'Concrete Night’ Uses mixed lenses. Cinematographers loosing the chance to make magic so should embrace the chances to make magical images. Used zoom series (mini hawks).

A member of the audience asked about the use of filters with anamorphic lenses. Mag’s replied that she uses a lot of things to destruct the image as much as possible to create unique look. Stewart mentioned that when filming women he creates image adaptation by placing nets in front of and behind the lenses.

It was also great to witness the enthusiasm of Wayne Isham and his whirlwind tour of some of the amazing back catalogue of music videos he has made since a lucky break after putting together a Jimi Hendrix archive clip in his old job. He has directed videos for the likes of Metallica, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, One Republic, Sheryl Crow and Richy Martin to name a few.

Wayne Isham 'choreography of images' event

As well as these events I have mentioned there are also some fantastic networking opportunities and the town of Bydgoscve is well worth exploring. This year also saw the appearance of David Lynch showing his latest Twin Peaks series (Episode 1 & 2) and holding a Q&A after with great insight into his process to filmmaking. The neighbouring town of Torun held an exhibition of his work. Once again I would highly recommend attending Camerimage if Filmmaking and Cinematography are your interest.

David Lynch Q&A
Me on my way home

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