Director Julian Higgins and cinematographer Andrew Wheeler recently reunited for the short film Winter Light, which is based on the writings of James Lee Burke. The story is a modern-day revisionist Western set against a winter landscape in Montana.
Wheeler and Higgins first began working together while attending AFI. Their thesis film Thief, which was shot on 35mm, won a 2011 Student ACADEMY AWARD® Gold Medal. The filmmaking duo also took top honors in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n film contest for Here and Now in 2013.
Danny Moder didn’t set out to be a cinematographer, but filmmaking is in his DNA. His grandfather, Dick Moder, was a director and his father, Mike Moder, spent nearly four decades on the production frontlines of films like Jeremiah Johnson, Beverly Hills Cop, and Crimson Tide. And it was on that 1995 Tony Scott action flick that Moder got his first taste of life on the set, after nagging his father “enough that he let me try it out for a summer job, working as a production assistant.” From there, he was hooked.
In the nearly two decades since he began his career, Moder has amassed nearly 40 credits, most recently as the cinematographer on Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart, which stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, and Julia Roberts, who also happens to be Moder’s wife of a dozen years.
Wally Pfister, an ACADEMY AWARD®-winning cinematographer, recently turned his talents to directing. The result is Transcendence, a film that ponders the fraught relationship between humans and the technology they create. The film stars Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, and Johnny Depp, who plays a scientist who defies death when his consciousness is transferred to the digital realm. Prior to Transcendence, Pfister was best known for his work as a cinematographer on the films of Christopher Nolan, including the stunning, spectacular imagery in films like Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception. All those movies were shot on Kodak film, in some cases on large formats, like 65mm and even IMAX. Pfister and cinematographer Jess Hall, BSC chose to shoot Transcendence in 35mm anamorphic format with a photochemical finish.
During your cinematography career, did you know that someday you’d direct? It was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t know that it would be a big Hollywood feature, but I can say that I knew I’d give it a shot one day. Even when I was working as a camera operator, the actors and their performances fascinated me, and I wanted to explore that in more depth. I’ve always been a musician, so I’ve really sunk my teeth into the music and sound aspects of directing, too. I’ve very much relished the writing process as well. The combination of the words and the way an artist like Johnny Depp brings them to life – let’s just say that I really had a lot of fun throughout the entire project.
Filmmakers who have spent any amount of time in Hollywood are already familiar with FotoKem, which has been providing post production services to the industry for five decades. From early on, the facility has been a trusted resource for studio projects, television shows, independent films, and commercial production. Headquartered in Burbank, Calif., FotoKem enjoys a unique role in the industry as an independently owned-and-operated post facility with a global reach. Their process embodies technological innovation and a passion for supporting filmmakers.
Today, emerging filmmakers and seasoned pros alike continue to rely on FotoKem’s wide range of expertise for navigating the many creative choices available for storytelling. "We are extremely proud of our history in the post production industry, and our longstanding relationships with so many gifted filmmakers,” says President and CEO William Brodersen. “Our transition into file-based workflows was led by the talented people that work here. Over the last decade, we have been able to grow technically and build an incredible, professional team of experts that has made FotoKem what we are now."
Here are Gordon Willis' thoughts on filmmaking from his 1994 Kodak OnFilm ad. This ad predates the time when we published the extended transcript from the interview. His words still resonate 20 years later.
"There aren't any unbendable rules in filmmaking. It's an organic process. In the first Godfather, you saw only Brando's eyes selectively, because we didn't want the audience to know what was going on inside his head all the time. Visual subtext is interesting, because you're making an audience think in a certain way. The trick is to take something that's quite sophisticated and reduce it to the simplest possible terms... The use of relativity on the screen is wonderful: light and dark, big and small, good and evil. What you see and what you don't...magic in a frame."
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