Film School: Cinematography

Cinematography as Trans-Dimensional, Telepathic Alchemy.

From here on out, Indywood’s Film School for the Public is going to focus on specific parts of the filmic art.

This month: Cinematography.

Cinematographers are the engineers of beauty.

The director has the vision—ideal and amorphous—and it’s up to the cinematographer to bring that vision to life through careful calculation and exact execution.

The Tool Kit

For our Film School lectures, we’re going to give brief over-view of the cinematographer’s toolkit: Lighting, lenses, depth of field, exposure and camera movement.

But beyond that, we’re going to discuss the mystical logic of cinematography.

The Metaphysics

Cinematraphers are alchemists, bringing stories to everlasting life through light and screen.

This is google’s definition of “Alchemy:” a seemingly magical process of transformation.

That definition could absolutely be applied to cinematography! Except cinematography is reverse alchemy—it turns gold into rock.

A camera is a seemingly magical instrument that transforms light into a material artifact. The cinematographer must be the perfect scientist in order to enact that magical transformation.

A Cinematographer is also a trans-dimensional wizard! She creates a 3-dimensional world out of a 2-dimensional surface.

And finally, the cinematographer speaks telepathically to her audience, guiding their eyes through the cinematic landscape and subtly accenting their interpretation of the story.

The cinematic art deserve profound appreciation.

Film School We’re going bask in the glorious glow of two films that exhibit excellent cinematography: The Fugitive (Dir. John Ford, 1947) and Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973).

The Fugitive: Black and White

The Fugitive was directed by John Ford, one of the greatest American filmmakers, and it was his favorite of his own films. But more importantly for our interests, the film was shot by Gabriel Figueroa.

Black and white cinematography has a different logic than color. Figueroa had a masterful understanding of how to use the contrast of highlights and shadows to tell a story.

Amarcord: Color

The creation of color film stock was majorly disruptive to the cinematic art. Many of the old masters didn’t know how to use it.

Amarcord was directed by the Federico Fellini, one the greatest Italian filmmakers, and shot by Guiseppe Rotunno. The film was innovative in it’s use of color to mimic the look of memory and accent the story with visual tones of heavy nostalgia.

At Indywood we have a deep and passionate love for the art of watching cinema. We want show great films and teach you the tools to fully appreciate them.