russian cinematographer Mikhail Krichman, renowned for his collaborations with Andrey Zvyagintsev on films such as Oscar nominees “Leviathan” and “Loveless”, shared some of his secrets during the IMAGO masterclass at EnergaCamerimage Film Festival, while engaging in a friendly dialogue with the two-time Oscar nominee Ed lachman. They both won Golden Frogs at the Polish festival, for “Leviathan” and “Carol” respectively.
Unable to be in Toruń in person, Krichman opened up about his upcoming project, Joshua Oppenheimer’s musical “The End”, starring Tilda Swinton.
“I’ve never done musicals before, with all these dance numbers. This is Joshua’s first fictional film and its approach is very interesting, ”he said, admitting he was“ stunned and scared ”by Oppenheimer’s documentaries“ The Look of Silence ”and“ The Act of Killing ”.
Music is also on Lachman’s mind, working on Todd Haynes’ film about singer Peggy Lee. “It’s a drama, but seen through music. The script reads like a musical in a way, ”he added.
When asked about their process, the two DPs revealed that they tend to move things around on set, to the point of disrupting the continuity of the film.
“I wouldn’t say I don’t care, but unless the mistake is more important than the artistic solution, I will choose the latter. When the audience notices an object is missing, it just means it’s a boring movie, ”Krichman said.
“I get out of things all the time,” Lachman agreed. “What the art director offers us is important, but we have the final say on how we see it. “
Embracing unexpected moments on set is crucial, they told audiences, whether it’s a sudden change in weather or a surprising performance.
“Magic happens when you prepare for it,” Krichman said.
“When you shoot a documentary, you expect the magic to come. You wait for it, sitting in a bush, reminding yourself that your choice will hurt the movie or make it better. I started out as a director of documentary photography and it gave me that experience of waiting for miracles.
“We must always be open at these times. Some directors I’ve worked with miss what’s in front of them just because they’re so rigid, clinging to their original idea, ”Lachman added, also mentioning River Phoenix’s latest performance in“ Dark. Blood ”, which he managed to capture.
“The last shot he was in was in this cave. The director said “cut” and River walked over to the camera, which was still working, and his figure blocked the lens. It turned black. It was an out-of-body experience, to be seen later. He was like a ghost. For me, the camera is another actor in a way. We are here to respond.
Krichman tends to focus on the person he’s supposed to work with first, he said, not the script, because “a bad director can ruin a good text.”
“When I read it for the first time, I don’t try to visualize anything. I just wanna see if it touches me or not. With ‘The Return’, I think this film changed me. The films that I love, they influence me a lot, ”he said, encouraging young directors of photography to go against convention or even“ hide things ”.
“If you see the screen fully lit, with vivid colors and no shadows, I don’t think you know where to look,” Krichman noted, with Lachman recalling his work on Todd Solondz’s comedy-drama “Wiener-Dog “.
“Knowing his work, which is kind of an absurdist comedy, I’ve never tried to act on content that way. I wanted to anchor it in a certain reality. Todd is a writer and he was reluctant to use the camera to tell the story so much. But I tried to show him that the camera could reinforce his ideas. I think he has to be ahead of the audience, ”he said.
“It’s more engaging if you can find ways to feel the sense of discovery and that’s also what I love about Mikhail’s work. I still get a feeling of discovery in the way he uses the camera.
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