THE FLAW’S THE THING

            The great star Dustin Hoffman – late of the Ishtar lighting diagrams – was quoted in The Independent as saying that today’s feature films are the worst they’ve been in 50 years.  Mindless tentpole movies and a scarcity in the mainstream of thoughtful, character-driven films of the type he built his career on make … Continue reading “THE FLAW’S THE THING”

3.9.2021

LIGHTING DIAGRAM #32 – ISHTAR

            Another scene with two people engaged in dialogue across the dinner table.  This time Hoffman and Charles Grodin have at it in an Arab restaurant.  Find it at the 00:30:23 mark…             Beautiful Storaro light…  Soft and natural but still packing some directional punch, thanks to the ever-popular 650W 9-light fays (double-diffused through multiple … Continue reading “LIGHTING DIAGRAM #32 – ISHTAR”

3.5.2021

YES, LESS IS ALWAYS MORE

            Gordon Willis, ASC claimed that it took him thirty years to learn how to be simple.  That didn’t make sense when I first heard it as a young assistant cameraman, but now that I’ve been shooting for longer than that I understand exactly what he meant.  Granted, he was referring to the inner process … Continue reading “YES, LESS IS ALWAYS MORE”

3.2.2021

LIGHTING DIAGRAM #31 – ISHTAR

            A simple scene across a desk – with many cuts.  Warren Beatty’s Lyle Rogers and Dustin Hoffman’s Chuck Clarke visit the U.S. Embassy in the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Ishtar.  Find it at the 00:28:41 mark…             What’s notable in this diagram is a technique that has appeared in several earlier instances: Storaro’s … Continue reading “LIGHTING DIAGRAM #31 – ISHTAR”

2.26.2021

REMEMBERING SARAH JONES

            This post originally appeared in my Presidents Desk column in the May 2014 issue of American Cinematographer magazine.  It marks the seventh anniversary of the passing of camera assistant Sarah Jones on February 20, 2014 and is as relevant now as it was then.             While details surrounding the death of second camera assistant … Continue reading “REMEMBERING SARAH JONES”

2.23.2021

LIGHTING DIAGRAM #30 – ISHTAR

            Picking up where I left off last September with the thread on Elaine May’s Ishtar (1987)…             This scene between Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty takes place on a high ledge of a Manhattan apartment building.  The first photograph illustrates how it played out with the stuntmen.  For the primary action however, a scaffold … Continue reading “LIGHTING DIAGRAM #30 – ISHTAR”

2.19.2021

ABUSIVE WORKING HOURS #2

            Last Tuesday’s post gave hell to the industry’s endorsement of abusive working hours.  Now I’ll try to answer why the situation exists as it does.             In the United States the majority of film crews put in draconian amounts of time on the job.  This’s not only approved of by the producing entities, it’s … Continue reading “ABUSIVE WORKING HOURS #2”

2.16.2021

ABUSIVE WORKING HOURS #1

            This may seem a strange topic for a period in which the film industry is running far below its capacity, but what better time to tackle such an important issue?             “Our responsibility is to the visual image of the film as well as the well-being of the crew.  The continuing and expanding practice … Continue reading “ABUSIVE WORKING HOURS #1”

2.9.2021