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Adam Frisch FSF

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Everything posted by Adam Frisch FSF

  1. Spent the last 5 years doing mainly car commercials in the RA. Or "Arm car" as they prefer it these days (as they're very entrenched in old politics and fractions and want to distance themselves from the Russian heads...). I operate all my own stuff. I know a few operators that use wheels in the car, but the absolute majority use a joystick, myself included. Not really sure you can train for it, but when you're working up close and fast, it helps to keep the pan speeds up. I have quite high dampening as well, but that's a personal choice. Makes my abrupt operating look smoother. You kind of have to anticipate moves a bit - and you'll miss. I miss all the time. Car accelerated left and you thought it was going to break etc. Happens. The hardest ones, are the pretty common: start at front, over the top of the car (and turn camera 180 degrees without a 4th axis) and then nailing a low end symmetrical shot as the car accelerates away. Those are very hard and almost nobody nails them without at least few tries. Sometimes they just don't ever get nailed. I always try to discourage the use of them, because they're that hard. If you have to do them, start upside down and then turn image in post - at least then you don't have to try to nail the 180 turn at the top when you're looking down and have no reference except the roof of the car. Another tricky one is drifts in turns as you counter - they tend to get very fast in the last moments and easy to lose track of. But sometimes the messiness adds to the action and speed in those shots. Perfection isn't always the best for the shot. But to be honest, I'm not the best operator in the world either. I'm decent. I'm sure there are guys that can nail those shots much better than me, so if you have very technical stuff like that, don't be afraid to ask for a pro operator. You'll also find after awhile, that it's really hard to do any type of truly new or groundbreaking RA shots. They've all been done and frankly, most cars look good in three quarters, or 7/8's and that's where you end up to sell the sheet metal. Very few cars look good dead on or in straight profile - and with any city work, you'll always fight the wides and profiles and end up on a too wide a lens. Most cars kinda look bad on wide angles (there are a few exceptions). Hope this helps! RA work is fun though - keeps you on your toes and it's very dynamic! Never a dull day in the arm car...
  2. Meant to post about Carol already this summer, when I happened to see it on the plane back to LA from Europe, but life got in the way. I was blown away by how beautifully it was shot. It's stayed with me ever since as a real inspiration. Every frame is beautifully composed and lit, reminding me of some of the work of Saul Leiter in many ways. Obscured, veiled and through lace. The color palette, the PD and costume design - everything works together in a wonderful way. Even the few shots where obvious budget constrains forced Ed Lachman to make choices one would perhaps not normally do - like shoot up towards the cityscapes in NYC on a car scene on a freeway rather than level - and it adds this beautiful quality that really enhances it and makes it even more interesting. Amazing S16mm work. I can not think of a better shot S16mm film I've seen.
  3. It is no secret perhaps that David Watkin, BSC was gay. I mention this only because I actually think it influenced his cinematography, as it was rooted much more in swinging London, editorial and fashion, rather than staler coming-up-through-the-male-ranks. Towards the end of his life, he used to love to have young DP's over for lunch at his Brighton house. I think he just enjoyed the chats and hanging with young DP's that were interested in hearing his war stories. I got wind of this and sent him a letter where I asked if I could come talk cinematography over a cup of tea, as I was just up the coast in Hastings. I got the loveliest letter back from him, where he complained he had just had surgery or something and once he'd healed from that, I was most welcome to have lunch in Brighton! He would send me an invitation when he felt better. Unfortunately, a couple of moths later he was dead. I kept that letter for years, but somehow it got lost in the move to the US, which is a bummer. In any case, David Watkin was a fantastic cinematographer and anyone can learn a lot from his work. Very ahead of his time in many ways, with a modern approach to lighting that was at the time still very much mired in the old studio way of doing things. In many ways I think of him as the DP equivalent to Helmut Newton in stills. Not so much in style perhaps, but in that they both really renewed the medium and pushed it to something new.
  4. Let me tell you a true story that happened maybe 3 years ago: One early morning my agent gets a call from one of his newly signed shit-hot DP's - the guy everyone wants to book at the moment. The DP has pulled off the freeway and is having panic attack and can barely breathe. When he finally calms him down, it turns out he's on his way to hist first big job on a soundstage. "I've never lit anything in a studio, or even seen a built set before - I've just used natural light on location!". Now, that wouldn't have happened when I started. You simply didn't get these kinds of jobs unless you had a certain amount of experience. The 5D and YouTube generation changed that, because now, the creative director is the same age and his references are also music videos and YouTube stuff! I actually think there are great benefits to this potential fast-track-to-the-big-leagues, in some regards. It used to be (like it was for me), that if you started out shooting MV's, you could never in a million years get a commercial from that. It was just never done - seen as two different disciplines and if you did one, you did only that. No crossover was allowed. That's all out the window now. You do something cool, either a MV, an ad, or a short film, or an art film, and if it connects you can be on the biggest commercial of your life the day after. It's good that those barriers are gone. The bad thing, of course, is that you then sometimes get people that are clueless doing jobs way above their skill levels. And perhaps worse, that skills are no longer valued. It's a double edged sword. I'm not sure what's best. I certainly wouldn't want the restrictive stuff I had to deal with back then back. But then again, I would like to also live in a world where my 25 years of experience counts for something.
  5. Yes, it has gotten damaged somehow, probably by just ground radiation and being stored in a position where it created this repetitive pattern. But it's also worth remembering that this particular stock was well hated and was grainy already when it was brand new. Kodak discontinued it after just a few years and it must have been their shortest running stock. Worth noticing is also that sensitivity actually goes down - it's not just that the base fog increases. Exposed correctly, they still look underexposed, so they basically get less sensitive with time.
  6. You might want to have a look at a few very rough tests I did with my old short ends. I deliberately chose the oldest stock I could find, a short end from 1996 that had been stored pretty badly and in room temp or hotter. I was looking at fog levels and grain mainly, so not a very sophisticated test setup. https://vimeo.com/231496214 Here I also tested the very short-lived 800ASA 35mm Kodak stock, and you can see it held up pretty bad. But you can also tell that both stocks respond well to over-exposure to suppress grain and fog. A rule of thumb is to add 1 stop for each decade of film age. https://vimeo.com/231494580 You could not use this kind of film for anything where a stable or professional outcome is needed. But you could certainly use it for shorts, experimental stuff or perhaps black and white stuff - there the grain and fog almost add's something.
  7. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going back to work soon here in the US. Recent happenings leads me to believe this. Unionized filmmaking is at the moment uninsurable - and from what I can see it will remain so until governmental gap support formulates. There is no way this will resolve itself in the market sphere by itself.
  8. Another DP that used a lot of Blondes and Redheads is/was Eduardo Serra ASC. He basically had a truckful of those and not much else. I won't deny that some of the newer lighting units like LED's are very useful, but at heart I'm a very old school lighter that likes to use old tungsten lights. On ever job I do I always bring Parcans (they are incredibly useful and very cheap), at least a few Mole zip softlights and usually one or two open face lights, too. With very basic and cheap units you can achieve a lot.
  9. I, unfortunately, think this will be a long time for all of us. 120000 IATSE members unemployed already here in the US. All freelancers. How long before they can no longer pay for their mortgages? How long for them to fall out of the union health care system (we need 400hrs/6month period to qualify). By May with no work, half of them are already there, most likely and it will snowball from there. 120000 unemployed IATSE
  10. On the plane back from a job I finally caught A Cure For Wellness. I can understand that it didn't connect with an audience, but it is simply one of the most spectacularly shot and designed movies I've seen recently. I'll go even further and say it's for sure one of the best shot and lit films in the last 10 years. And I say this knowing the competition from all the awarded work of the usual suspects. Bojan is just one of those DP's who go pretty much unnoticed from year to year, never gets big nominations, never gets talked about much, but just turns in stellar work consistently. Go back and look at films like The Ring, Lone Ranger, Mr & Mrs Smith, Pirates - all world class camerawork and lighting. I wish sometimes this industry would award or celebrate some of this talent out there rather than alternate the admiration between the usual 3-5 suspects. But we all know cinematography is context - you can have the best cinematography in the world, but if it's not in a film that connects or breaks out, it doesn't matter. Likewise, pretty ugly movies can win for best cinematography, if it's a great film. A Cure For Wellness should have for sure had a nomination for best cinematography in 2017. Especially since it was a very weak year for nominations in that category. If you haven't seen it, see it for the cinematography alone.
  11. Darius has himself mentioned that he gets bored with beautiful shots, so he's always interesting to watch. He serves story these days. I get a sense that a lot of people want him to replicate the groundbreaking work he had when he did Seven and Delicatessen etc, but he wants to move forward. I respect that and can feel the same thing many times. "Beautiful cinematography" can be a trap. I thought Uncut Gems was good. Lighting is very real, even "ugly" at times, but it feels absolutely right for film. I love the long lens stuff. Nice to see after so much wide stuff the last decade.
  12. Well, if the discussion expands to why some make it and some don't, I have to mention one big elephant in the room: social skills. I don't know how many PA's or new-to-the-business people I've met where I after 5 minutes can tell they won't last. Not because they're not good people at heart, but they just lack social skills, or don't have an ease with people and can't see spontaneously what needs to be done. Intuitive, I suppose. Add a little laziness to it, and you're sure to not last long. I shoot in all corners of the world and one thing that always strikes me is that they all have social skills and play well with others, they're collaborative and they're hard workers. You have those three attributes - you'll make it.
  13. Owning gear has always been a trap, in my opinion. Do you want them to hire you because you come with "free" gear, or because you're good cinematographer? Here's the followup to that, if they do hire you because you come with gear, then they're loyal to that "free" gear, not to you. So when they get the bigger job with the better budget down the line that's much more creative, they'll get the DP that has the good reel, not the DP that has gear. Now, I'm not saying you can't get ahead with a little gear in the beginning. But it shouldn't be viewed as the ticket into it - your talent is that.
  14. I personally find that I gravitate towards the "human eye" field-of-view lenses. A 32mm and 40mm are pretty much the only lenses I need. Twist my arm and add the 50mm, too. That said, I can respect and see the beauty in wide-angle photography at times, it's just not something that I gravitate towards personally. I honestly think that any lens under 30mm is not very flattering on faces. I will use a 25mm or a 27mm for wider vistas, or an establisher, but I tend to avoid them for any closer work. Even the 32mm is on the edge for faces at times - I find the 40mm is the perfect balance. Long lenses I love - I grew up with Tony Scott and Adrian Lyne films after all, so I'm well into that aesthetic. It's kinda out of fashion these days to use telephoto lenses, but I do enjoy that look and will try to work it in when I can. There's something absolutely magical about shooting "wider" images by backing the hell off and using a long lens and just flattening it like a painting.
  15. Simple. If you shoot away from the windows and into the wall as background, just augment. Maybe use nothing but neg, maybe use a bit of artificial to help the daylight feel along. Sidelight, motivate from window. Shoot into the window as background and now it needs a little more attention. Depending on stylistically what you want (is it OK play characters as compete silhouettes?), then you need to make choices. What I do in this scenario most of the time (when I can't play silhouettes), is that I pretend that the light hit a wall/floor somewhere. And based on where that hit, that's my bounce/key light on face. It can be a floor bounce (very likely), or a wall bounce. Works great from that motivated standpoint, and you'll have a natural looking scene.
  16. Trailer looks amazing, Jarin. What a dream project for a cinematographer! On the Arris (and I think Panavisions), you can order them with a special black pressure plate. Because of the weak backing on B&W film, what happens when you have bright objects in image, is that the light actually goes through the film, bounces in the chrome plated pressure plate and then re-enters back into film, creating a weird halation and greatly reduces contrast. It's a classic problem when you shoot into light sources. With a black pressure plate this problem is greatly reduced, if not eliminated.
  17. No, I'm not a wide lens lover. They pull me out of a film - too freakish. For me the sweet range is mids - 25, 27, 32, 35, 40mm. That's where it's at for me. I could do an entire movie with just those. But there are times when you must use wider lenses. But I never carry wider than 18mm on a regular job. And I almost never have to break it out.
  18. Yes you can. One of my old Swedish gaffers used to use a C-stand with a flag arm at 45 degrees (and clamped in middle). At the knuckle end he put a 4x4 bounce card, at the pointy, other end of flag arm, he put a little Redhead light bouncing into the card. It was a single stand, moveable soft unit, almost like an umbrella light. Worked well. Today with LED soft units, it's less need for it, but good trick to know.
  19. $500 is way too low, but I've had offers for low budget features in that region. I earned $1200/week for my $2M horror feature Don't Knock Twice, so that's kind of the realistic range we're looking at. More than $2K/week for a low budget non-union film is probably rare.
  20. Huge Netflix show with a major star in it paid $6K/week for the DP. He later moved to an even bigger show, also for same network, and it bumped to $8K/week. I'd expect that is as much as you'll ever earn doing TV. Big features with a big time DP might pay a little more, but we're talking the top 20 guys here. Us mere mortals, on a $1-5 million movie, probably looking at anywhere from $500-3000/week. Which might sound like a good living, but if you're in LA or NY and have a family, really isn't.
  21. I can only say that editing is one of the most important tools in the making of a film. It is by far one of the most creative crafts in the arts. You can completely change the tone of any piece in editing, based on the exact same footage the director shot. It can take a film from bad to good all by itself, and vice versa, of course. So whenever I see it getting pooh-poohed, and treated as merely assembly that anyone can do with the right software, well, I just very strongly disagree. It is highly creative and very few people are good at it. But most think they are.
  22. Greg - saw it at the BAFTA screening. Manu - you'll just have to see if it feels that way like it did for me. Yes, John Wick 3 kills a lot more people, Expendables etc, it's not about the actual body count or violence per se, just the intersection between the emotional impact, in conjunction with the times, and this being a character that attracts a lot of followers that are already turned away socially. In many ways it is like Taxi Driver, but there weren't any 'incels' back then that went home and stocked up on assault rifles.
  23. Great movie very nicely shot by Lawrence Sher, ASC. A performance of a lifetime from Joaquin. He simply will win Oscar for it, there is no other option. Film is uncomfortable, very angst-ridden and full of impending doom and dread. Not necessarily a pleasant watch, but engaging and very well made. It's a character piece rather than an action movie. I have to be honest, I am a little worried in these strange times what it might motivate in the disenfranchised young (mostly) males. There was a Q&A after film with director Todd Phillips and a woman raised this very question. He kind of did what all us filmmakers do, and that is to say it's not up to us to filter, shy away from violence or not show mental illness, we can only ask questions, yada yadda etc. And normally I would agree with him, but like I said, I can't but help share that woman's fears, slightly. Seen by someone removed from good human interactions, perhaps with some confidence issues or mental problems, it could inspire the wrong thing. It is a powerful film that doesn't necessarily condemn it. First time I've ever felt that we as filmmakers actually do have a responsibility. Or maybe I'm just getting older. Nevertheless, a very powerful movie. It feels a little bit like it will create debate like Fight Club did 20 years ago.
  24. New bigger sensor, which is welcome. Not sure how they can call a 23x13mm sensor Super35 in size - it's nowhere near that. But hey, I'll take any sensor enlargement they got!
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