Thursday, April 06, 2006

Oh What a feeling!

I recently got sucked into seeing the movie "Flashdance", and was taken aback by how quick that movie moves. Over at Cinecultist Karen talks about how quick the movie goes by. I mean in the first 15 minutes you know everything about this movie, and it's characters. But not only does the movie go by fast, but what drew me in originally was it's cinematography by Donald Peterman. I was still in film school when it came out, and I was astounded by it's crisp cinematography. Kodak came out with several new high speed stocks, and along with some fast lenses it seemed one could shoot mid-night in a coal mine with no problem. So began a long experimental period in my life with the camera. The scene where Jennifer Beals is working out was done with predominately sunlight through a sky light. The images are burned into my brain, and not just because Ms Beals looked SO good (okay, okay, Ms Beals had a lot to do with it), but because the cinematography was ground-breaking. At least it was back then. Peterman would push the latitude of the film stock he used and create some interesting visuals. The film also was shot in Pittsburgh, and you may not think Pittsburgh very photogenic, but the film had a feel to it that only helped it. If anyone tells you shooting in Toronto can substitute for Pittsburgh with no problem I'd argue with you that you'd be wrong. Sure you would save some production costs, but you sacrifice look, and feel of your film. Go ahead take a look. I mean do you actually buy that Moonstruck was shot in Brooklyn, because I don't. I know it was shot in Toronto, and even though most people wouldn't recognize that I certainly do since I myself come from Brooklyn. But I digress, and this is about Flashdance, and it's great cinematography. I read that some of the scenes such as the break dance scene on the street was shot on the go. They just happened to see these kids doing there thing, and thought it would be a great idea to shoot it Peterman would roll with it, and get his camera's set up quick, and it was all due to Kodak's new stock, and his super fast lenses.

It's stuff like the above that makes a film stand out. I remember long nights when I was filming stuff wide open on the lens aperture of the schools camera, and using almost all ambient light with just one or two sun guns going, and it all worked out. I look at what kodak has today with ISO speeds of 800 or above, and I'm truly amazed at where film has gone. But that brings me to the present, and what I see in a lot of digital productions. Slowly the technology will be there to capture ambient lite scenes, but when I look at these scenes I can't but help but say that film still can't hold a candle to the pixelated image known as digital. It will soon, or maybe not, but seeing Flashdance the other night really turned me onto what cinematography is all about, and that is sculpting with light. I guess that's why I shot 16mm for my movie, and that still a part of me wants to shoot more film. I don't know if it'll be cost effective and practical, but you can still find me fiddling around with film, and trying to push it's boundaries as Peterman did in Flashdance. So go ahead take a look at Flashdance and see if you don't agree. It goes by quick, and it's good film. Well crafted, and it has heart.

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