74 r

MAKING MovIES

smile, so that you think daybreak has come. "I'm glad y,'tt didn't," he said. We hugged and went home. Everything about actors and movie acting is in that st()r \' The use of self at whatever cost, the self-knowledge, the conlr dence that a director and actor have to develop in each otht't, the devotion to a text (Marlon never questioned the wortls), the dedication to the work, the craft. It's experiences like that that make me love actors.

FIVE

The Camera:
Your Best Friend

Ftrst of all, the camera can't talk back.

tions. It can't

ask penetrating questions

It can't ask stupid questhat make you realize

fou've been wrong all along. Hey, it's
3ut,

a camera!

It can make up for a deficient performance. It can make a good performance better. It can create mood. It can create ugliness. It can create beauty. It can provide excitement. It can capture the essence of the moment. It can stop time. It can change space. It can define a character. It can provide exposition.

so that during a take. the camera's mechanism starts to pull the next frame into position behind the lens. pulling thc exposed negative and rolling it up. . Then the next frame-another still phri tograph-is exposed. First. Lenses vary over an enormous range from 9 millimeters to 600 millimeters and beyond. a camera's quite simple. There are twenty-four frames per sec ond. It can make a joke." Like the finger ing mechanisms of most musical instruments. or combination of both. is on the back. Third. Mechanically. sixteen frames to a foot of film. The camera has actuallv photographed a still picture. When projected back onto a screen b" exactly the same mechanism. But as the film moves. A take-up reel. I always know it really has three. A reel of unexposed negative is mounted on the front. there is the size of the lens itself. movics "are twenty-four frames of truth per second. 14 mm. The third star is the camera. this simplt'. which determines the amount of light that will Pass through the lens onto the film' There are other factors-the angle of the shutter. As fean-Luc Godard once said. there is the light that exists evcrr before it enters the lens. The light comes through the lens and strikes the negative. But these four basic elements will suffice for now. This light can be natural. artifrcial. 21 mm) as wide-angle lenses. The most fundamental photographic choice I make is what lens to use for a particular shot. called a frame. there are color filters and nets' usually placed behind the lens. Fourth is the lens stop. the movc ment looks continuous. and so forth. the fllm is moving. and to those from 75 mm on up as long lenses' I hope I can help make this clear with the following drawings: WID E \ \ I LENS LIC HT I I I (^) t . After the frame is exposed. They turn at a constant rate of speed. To the human eye. In between are notched wheels that keep the frlm taut at all times.76 r MAKING MOVIES a The Camers t 77 . It can tell a story! If my movie has two stars in it. Tech- nically we refer to the lenses on the lower millimeter range (9 mm. There are four primary elements that affect the picture pro duced in the camera. a shutter comes down and blocks all light fronr hitting the negative. to control the color and change the quality of the light. . It can make a miracle. Second. passing through the per forations in the negative. one and one-half fect to twenty-four frames. clumsy contraption can produce a profound aesthetic result. In the center of this mechanism is a lens. the negative stock. it looks as if the images are in constant motion-even though we are actually seeing twenty four still pictures per second. 17 mm. 18 mm.

LENS we'd seen earlier were rePeated as flashbacks' Only now. The distortions are sPatial' Objects seem farther aPart. forcefully. Murder on the Orient Express together at the toP of the frame.78r MAKINC MOVIES The Csmera t 79 LONC the body of the Picture. Vertical lines seem to be forced closer The distance from where the image reverses itself to the recording surface (the film) is what determines the millimeter count of the lens. The result was that the first time we saw the scene. etched in hard lines. esPecially objects lined up from foreground to background. various scenes took place that would It retold at the end of the movie by Hercule Poirot. using the retelling as part of his evidence in the solufion of the crime. The 75 mm lens has a long tube drawn on it because it needs more distance from the recording surface. or simply panning from right to left. But changing lenses for the amount of information the lens gathers (its "field") is only a partial use of a lens. given all the space one needed. notice how much more room there is above and below the photographed oblect than in drawing B. The longer the lens. Theoretically. from 28 mm to'40 mm' Wide-angle lenses (9 mm to 24 mm) tend to distort the picture. 100 mm) and the second time with t very wide-angle lens (21 mm). 75 mm. the greater the distortion. but the lenses that come closest are the midrange lenses. they appeared on the screen much more dramatically. fitting in with the drama of a solution to a murder' Lenses have different characteristics. it was melodramatic. Each scene that would be repeated was shot twice-the first time with normal lenses for the movie (50 mm. Viewed the second time. the scenes FII-M Ii . During tracking shot or dolly. both to the camera tortions are tremendously useful. Lenses have different feelings about them. The 35 mm lens (A) takes in a significantly larger area than the 75 mm lens (B). if I were doing a illustrated this very clearly. the closer the oband to one another' These disiects seem. In drawing A. one could achieve the same size of any photographed object using a longer lens by simply backing the camera up. The wider-angle lens (35 mm) has a much larger "field" than the 75 mm lens. the wider the lens. While he described the incidents. Drferent lenses will tell a story dtferent\. I could create the illusion of the photographed object traveling at much greater speed by using a long lens. Longer lenses (from 50 mm upward) compress the space' Objects that are lined up from foreground to background seem closer together. because they'd taken on a greater melodramatic significance as t'vidence. For example. our genius clctective. No lens truly sees what the human eye sees. This was accomplished through the use of different lenses. it appeared as a normal part of the movie. Because it seems .

although the background seems farther away. Brando's character. The Fugitive Kind. The lenses have another characteristic. is trying to find love for himself and others as the only possibility of his own salvation. The background. is so out of focus that it becomes unrecognizable. I felt I could turn it into an advantage. I also raised the camera to the highest above-eye-level position. I wanted the room to seem smaller and smaller. a "lens plot" occurred to me. of space "-or'r. The foregrou. In that way. we'll pour in more light. an exterior that showed the jurors Ieaving the courtroom. when I need a long lens but want to keep the image sharper. photographer. and vice versa. As the picture unfolded. The stop is creared by opening lr closing a diaphragm mounred in the lens. Boris Kaufman. 81 car. compensating somewhat for the loss of depth that the long lens creared. the ceiling began to appear. wider than any lens that had been used in the entire Picture.rr. closer. if I wanted to increase the speed ol an object moving toward or away from me. Starting with the normal range (28 mm to 40 mm). Since light affects the focal depth. The sense of increasing claustrophobia did a lot to raise the tension of the last part of the movie. If I wanted to get rid of as much background as possible. They can be used . stop. even though it seems closer. But with a wide_angle lens.r. I would use a wide-angle lens. One of the most important dramatic elements for me was the sense of entrapment those men must have felt in that room. this can be put to tremendous use. Again. Boris Kaufman. I. a running person) seems to be covering'mort' ground faster. I used a wide-angle lens. by lowering the camera. the object seems to travel past the background at l much greater speed on a long lens. the ceiling was as well. (I once asked Tennessee . On the final shot. Val Xavier. it will"be sharper and therefore more recognizable.It never occurred to me that shooting an entire Picture in one room was a problem. Perhaps I can lllustrate with some examples. Conversely. The more light. two increasingly confined hours.ro. photographer.d use a long lens. . That meant that I would slowly shift to longer lenses as the picture continued. Iight. We call li opening up (letting in more light by seming the diaphragm in it. and then. For the first time. u greater focal depth. I tried assigning lenses to characters. The added light will gi. ImmediItely. we progressed to 50 mm. f. to let us finally breathe' after 12 Angry Men.r. Whew! The purpose of these boring technical discussions is to con_ vey that the basic photographic elemenrs_lens. Sometimes. -ori open position) or stopping down (closing the diaphragm so it allows the least amount of light to reach the film). It gets even more complicated.rd object (l out of necessity but to achieve aesthetic results. and filters-are wonderful tools. The intention was to literally give us all air. a horse. Not only were the walls closing in.I lhot the first third of the movie above eye level. toward the cnd. and the last third from below eyq level. This is because the object seems to be covering greater distances as it is approaching or leaving us.75 mm. the stop (the amount of light allowed ro pass through the lens) is very importanr. In fact.80 I MAKTNc MoVTES The Camera . the more focal depth.r1 in which an object moving toward or away from the camera stays in focus without changing the focus of the lens mechani_ cally. In addition. Wide_angle lenses have a much greater focal depth of field-th. shot the second third at eye level. and 100 mm lenses.

the photogracan harm or gloriously fulfill my PurPose in doing the pher clospicture in the first place.. As much as anyone. That's the true beauty in movie photography' lrr' ttl )tr ull ( ll r. to just shoot it .rl tlr . The light Sven Nykvist has created for so many of Ingmar Bergman's movies is directly connected to what those movies are about. is that the techniques come from the material' 'Ihey should change as the material changes' Sometimes it's important not to do anything with the camera.l ill Irr1. most directors' direccst relationship is with the cameraman' That's why most as long as tors work with the same cameraman year after year.l Itll rr. 93 ll. The overriding consideration for me. the style can be achieved.struight. The light in Wintet Light is totally different than the light in Fanny and Alexander' The difference in Iighting is related to the difference in the themes of the movies." And equally important for me is that all this work stay hidden. During shooting. as is apparent in all these examples.The Camera . The work with the cameraman is as close as with the writer and the actors. Good camera work is not pretty pictures' It should augment and reveal the theme as fully as the actors and directors do. livery picture I've made has had this kind of attention paid to the camera.

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