- What personality or character traits are necessary to excel in being a cinematographer/DP?
Since we are responsible in bringing the director’s vision to the screen, we must be able to understand deeply the moral of the story, empathize with the characters’ and present that in the best way possible. Any film project is a collaborative effort so we must always be open and try new techniques that might possibly put the project in ways you’ll never imagine.
- In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?
I am impressed by Emmanuel Lubezki’s work in Gravity where he took the complexity of the movie and turn it into one of the best pictures I have seen.
- What makes good cinematography?
Being able to interpret the story and to bring the emotions from the screen directly to the audience’s hearts, I think that is important.
- What makes a good camera? And what has been your favorite camera to use?
For me, gear is secondary. Story is and always be king. Without a good story to tell, even the best camera can’t bring a project to life. Currently I have been impressed at the quality of Sony compact mirrorless cameras. Even though they are portable with their small sizes, what they bring to the table, from 4K to the low-light capabilities, always amaze me.
- Do you think that cinematographer’s work has changed when movies went from film to digital?
For sure, the workflow is entirely different with the two formats. Nowadays, with plenty of storage for filming we could shoot more and be more experimental (when time permits of course) and edit it out later, while previously, there is a need to be more conservative and more planned in the number of shots because film is limited and directly contributes to the cost of the movie.
- Now that people watch films on TV, computers and even their phones, do you think about that end experience when you are shooting?
Definitely. I feel the future of films is gearing towards greater accessibility, where we could let the audiences experience the movie wherever and whenever they want.
- Which one is more important: light or shadow?
Both are equally important. Without light, there is no shadow.
- What is the cinematographer’s involvement in pre-production, production and post-production?
Pre-production stage is the time we download all the information we need to create the picture from the writer and director. Discuss with them how they wish the story to be portrayed and align it with what we feel is best for each shot.
Production stage is where we execute the idea and make changes as and when needed.
Post-production stage is where we tweak things like editing and color to bring out the best of every movie.
- What involvement in the production budget does the cinematographer/DP have?
Bigger projects require bigger budgets and better equipment, and some require more time during the pre-production stage so we must always do careful planning to see what works best for every budget.
- What is your most valuable advice for being a Cinematographer/DP?
Be proactive and collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Understand the little quirks the director is trying to convey. Even the smallest things matter in a picture.
The Carpark | Singapore | 2018 | 8’
Director: Nor Hisham
Writer: Nor Hisham
Producers: Nor Hisham, Lim Li Yin
Key Cast: Firdaus Sani, Lim Li Yin, Tia Andrea Guttensohn, Nor Hisham
Synopsis: A troubled man in search of the truth, inevitably resorts to lying to his wife.