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Patrick Neary

Vittorio Storaro isn't a DP

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Hi-

 

I finally saw "Cinematographer Style" on DVD-

 

Anyone venture a guess on why Storaro is so adamant that he is a cinematographer, and not a director of photography? Maybe someone has heard him expound in more detail on this?

 

Is this a statement about being an artist vs. a department head?

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Hi-

 

I finally saw "Cinematographer Style" on DVD-

 

Anyone venture a guess on why Storaro is so adamant that he is a cinematographer, and not a director of photography? Maybe someone has heard him expound in more detail on this?

 

Is this a statement about being an artist vs. a department head?

 

Here's how I've always distinguished between the two (and this is just my opinion), if in fact there is any real difference: A cinematographer and a director of photography essentially know the exact same things, but a cinematographer is more "hands-on" in his/her approach to shooting whereas a director of photography can delegate a lot of his/her jobs to other people. So, the cinematographer is almost always doing their own camera operation, focusing the lenses, changing lenses, attaching magazines, etc., and perhaps also bearing the lion's share of the lighting work, and probably isn't afraid to touch a c-stand or set up a light on his/her own. A director of photography, on the other hand, might not operate anything other than a light meter, and maybe not even that, because he has a camera operator, an assistant camera operator, a 2nd assistant camera operator, and is working with a gaffer who has beneath him/her, electricians, grips, etc. There could be a great number of variations between these extremes (hands-on vs. hands-off) and a lot of it may have to do with union rules vs. non-union shooting, I'm sure. End the end, both are responsible for making sure that the film is properly photographed, and both know the means to that end, but at the end of the day, the cinematographer is going to have more grit under their nails. Again, that's just my opinion.

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Ha - you should've titled this thread something else, it sounds threatening to Storaro hahaha, was I happy it wasn't and also go to learn difference of DP and cinematographer.

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I think the distinction probably has nothing to do with what Scott is saying as far as hands on and hands off of gear (if it did, I would argue you have it backwards - a true "artist" or "Writer of Light" would never concern himself with technical particulars).

 

The title just comes down to pompousness in my opinion, its the same fu*king thing - You run the camera, grip and electric departments, all with the goal of achieving what the DP/ cinematographer desires. The art is in what the desire is. All this critical analysis of the art doesn't seem to exist on set, it exists in interviews and preproduction.

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As far as I know he finds that the term 'cinematographer' describes more accurately what he does, since a film has 'cinematography' in it, not 'photography'. Also there is only one director on the film and it's not the director of photography.

 

It's the same with the ASC, BSC and other societies, the C stands for cinematography there as well.

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There is no real difference practically -- it's just a title. Language is always evolving; all that matters is that there is a general consensus as to the meaning of a term to avoid confusion.

 

Storaro basically doesn't like the word "director", he feels that a movie has one director -- he considers himself a "writer of light" (although that's technically what "photography" means -- "cinematography" literally means more like "writing with motion" although the term is really a collapsing of "cinema photography" into one word.)

 

I like the title "cameraman".....it seems the most humble.

 

Though gender specific...

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Storaro basically doesn't like the word "director", he feels that a movie has one director -- he considers himself a "writer of light" (although that's technically what "photography" means -- "cinematography" literally means more like "writing with motion" although the term is really a collapsing of "cinema photography" into one word.)

Though gender specific...

 

That makes sense.

 

I wonder if (like Kevin alludes to, if I might be so bold) when a Dp- I mean cinematographer- gets to the level of Storaro (well, only Storaro is at the level of Storaro) then that person can really just sit back and muse on-set about how the color green is knowledge, and the color yellow is- - - ah, poop, I forgot what the color yellow is... :)

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As far as I know he finds that the term 'cinematographer' describes more accurately what he does, since a film has 'cinematography' in it, not 'photography'. Also there is only one director on the film and it's not the director of photography.

 

It's the same with the ASC, BSC and other societies, the C stands for cinematography there as well.

 

What about the Art Director...

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The funny thing about it is that he's been trying for some time to change the "title" here in italy, within the AIC, but there's a problem: the word he wants to use is a literal translation of "cinematographer", which in Italian is "cinematografo". Nothing wrong about it, but "cinematografo" is the old word for "movie theater", so it can't be changed overnight.

 

AIC stands for "Associazione Italiana Autori della Fotografia Cinematografica" (Italian Society of Authors of Cinema Photography), but " Author of Cinema Photography" is just too long to be used in movie credits.

Storaro chooses as a credit "photographed by".

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I think it's just a preferencial thing.

 

I like to be called cinematographer (for the moment) because personally "Director of Photography" connotates having more responsibility and consisting of a large camera and lighting crew...which is something I rarely have the luxury of having...yet

 

I'll accept being called a DP anyday though :)

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For me cinematographer means someone who supervises the lighting and operates.

While a DP is someone who is primarily involved in the lighting.

This is not how it seems to be in the industry where DP's can light and operate while operators "just" operate . Now in the UK there is the lighting cameraman which is the same as a DP with a sort of tacit implication that they can operate sometimes.

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When I am shooting drama I call myself a DOP. When I am shooting interviews and other EFP I call myself a lighting cameraman. When I work as an AC I also tend to use different terms depending on the job. I like to use the terms focus puller and loader, but loader especially isn't so appropriate to video, so I will call myself an AC, As for cinematographer, I think it is a more general term, it can be just another term for the DOP or can extend to include other members of the camera department. While it seems a trendier title, I personally feel DOP gives more credit. Robert Bresson refered to himself, a director, as a cinematographer meaning a film maker, not a DOP.

 

Daniel

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Hi-

 

I finally saw "Cinematographer Style" on DVD-

 

Anyone venture a guess on why Storaro is so adamant that he is a cinematographer, and not a director of photography? Maybe someone has heard him expound in more detail on this?

 

Is this a statement about being an artist vs. a department head?

 

Basically, yes.

 

After having had some conversations with him about it (I worked on a picture with him in 2003), he seemed to feel that "Director of Photography" is a term that describes a technical/managerial position. He sees himself as an artist, thus the title of "Cinematographer-" which has little to do with managerial responsibilities, and more to do with artistic concept and execution - is more appropriate.

 

I also asked him how many of his peers he considers Cinematographers. The answer, at the time, was only two: Freddie Francis, and.... himself. It should also be noted that Vittorio has a very unique sense of humor.

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The funny thing about it is that he's been trying for some time to change the "title" here in italy, within the AIC, but there's a problem: the word he wants to use is a literal translation of "cinematographer", which in Italian is "cinematografo". Nothing wrong about it, but "cinematografo" is the old word for "movie theater", so it can't be changed overnight.

 

AIC stands for "Associazione Italiana Autori della Fotografia Cinematografica" (Italian Society of Authors of Cinema Photography), but " Author of Cinema Photography" is just too long to be used in movie credits.

Storaro chooses as a credit "photographed by".

 

 

well, the matter is complex...in our industry, that has always been totally rome-based, the term "cinematografaro" has been used in a sort of disparaging sense by the directors to mark their presumed artistic superiority over the rest of the crew, considered as mere technicians ("cinematografari" indeed), and this was happening especially because of the "authors theory" in the 60s and 70s.

 

that's why i guess storaro would not like to be credited as "cinematografaro" when it comes to italian credits, but i think he definitely prefers the definition "cinematographer" rather than "director of photography" when it comes to english credits.

 

he's point is very straight forward: "photography" comes from the greek and littlerally means: written with light; cinematography means "written movements". cinema is movement (and light of course) by definition.

he rejects the definition "director of photography" as outdated and imprecise cause in effect that definition originally came from the times when u.s. cameramen felt they had to affirm their importance in the crew facing the "director": so if there were a director of the acting there must had been a director of the camera.

 

besides that, he does not mean that the two (cinematographer and director of photography) are different jobs in any sort. he explains this quite extensively in the book "masters of light: conversations with contemporary cinematographers" by schaefer and salvato.

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in our industry, that has always been totally rome-based, the term "cinematografaro" has been used in a sort of disparaging sense by the directors to mark their presumed artistic superiority over the rest of the crew

 

Vincenzo, I'm well aware of the meaning of "cinematografaro", I've spent 10 months of my life working in Cinecittà last year :D

 

Storaro is pushing for a different word, which is "cinematografo", though that is the old word for "movie theater" before we shortened it to "cinema". If I had to chooose, I'd prefer "fotografato da" in the credits, but I'm no cinematographer/DP, so it doesn't really matter, does it?

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That's an interesting language issue. I can't really think of an english equivelent except maybe "shooter" which could describe either Christopher Doyle or Lee Harvey Oswald or a raw oyster. (apologies to Mr. Doyle and the oyster)

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This is a bit off subject , Storaro , was a great DP stunning , but as far as i can see not for a good few years.!!

 

wait a few more months to see "Caravaggio"...could be really good...

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Here is a photo I took of Vittorio Storaro on the Acropolis looking like a DP !

( It's the suit and tie that does it )

post-17618-1171563588.jpg

Edited by Angeliki Makraki

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Well IMO it USED to be like this although these are all blurred together now:

 

A Cinematographer knows how to shoot film.

 

A Videographer doesn't know how to shoot film.

 

A Director of Photography I guess now is used for both. Except I see people (Videographers) using the title who have no idea how to shoot film. I must admit these people do tick me off a bit. Maybe that's where Stararo's beef comes from.

 

Suppose you pick up the phone and someone on the other end says to you, "I need you to shoot Anamorphic 35 and I need you here tommorow at 6am can you do it?" It seems to me that if you go around calling yourself a DP or a cinematographer your answer should be YES.

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I think the distinction probably has nothing to do with what Scott is saying as far as hands on and hands off of gear (if it did, I would argue you have it backwards - a true "artist" or "Writer of Light" would never concern himself with technical particulars).

 

The title just comes down to pompousness in my opinion, its the same fu*king thing - You run the camera, grip and electric departments, all with the goal of achieving what the DP/ cinematographer desires. The art is in what the desire is. All this critical analysis of the art doesn't seem to exist on set, it exists in interviews and preproduction.

 

I think the distinction probably has nothing to do with what Scott is saying as far as hands on and hands off of gear (if it did, I would argue you have it backwards - a true "artist" or "Writer of Light" would never concern himself with technical particulars).

 

The title just comes down to pompousness in my opinion, its the same fu*king thing - You run the camera, grip and electric departments, all with the goal of achieving what the DP/ cinematographer desires. The art is in what the desire is. All this critical analysis of the art doesn't seem to exist on set, it exists in interviews and preproduction.

 

Like I said, that's just my take; it doesn't mean it's true. But I ask you, why wouldn't an "artist" or "Writer of Light" concern themselves with "technical particulars"? That's every bit as conceived a notion as the one that I admittedly created. In other words, it assumes something that you don't know to be true because there's isn't really an answer. Take a filmmaker like Stan Brackhage as an example of one extreme. He was absolutely the epitome of a "hands-on" filmmaker, and there's no question that he knew how to "write with light and motion" and was/is considered an "artist". However, I wouldn't personally consider him as having been a "director of photography" but would have no trouble at all calling him a cinematographer.

 

In all fairness, and in most cases, it's just splitting hairs, really. For all intents and purposes I truly believe that "cinematographer" and "director of photography" are synonymous and that the title simply boils down to the individual's choice.

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Storaro can call himself the Grand Poobah of Light if he wants to -- he's earned the right to make up any title he wants for himself.

 

I understand why it's important to him, being so passionate about his chosen profession, but for all practical purposes, the two terms are interchangeable in this industry.

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