American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 10

President’s Desk
Among my friends, I’m known for having an almost encyclopedic knowledge of movies. I have terrible short-term memory, but if I bump into an actor, I can recall him from a two-minute scene in a movie made 20 years ago. Friends are always calling me with a question about some movie, be it a Western that starred Kelly LeBrock and Matt McCoy (Hard Bounty) or a 1950s sci-fi flick about a fungus creature that lives in a cave and kills people (The Unknown Terror). I once encountered actress Kathryn Witt on the street and amazed her by recounting almost everything she’d appeared in, from Demon of Paradise to Flying High. She probably thought I was a stalker. I love movies — at times, even bad ones. You can see the filmmakers were trying so hard to make a good movie, but that they just didn’t have the talent or resources to pull it off. Take, for example, They Saved Hitler’s Brain , which has the distinction of being photographed by Stanley Cortez, ASC. Made in the 1950s as The Madmen of Mandoras, the film features the talking head of Hitler in a jar. When it was sold for TV broadcast in the 1960s, the movie was lengthened to better fit a two-hour time slot: new scenes were shot with entirely different actors playing characters who all die in the first half hour. Watching the jarring juxtaposition of elegantly photographed images with sloppily shot handheld filler — which alternates between day and night in the same scene — is truly a hypnotic experience. My love of movies accelerated when I was 10, when I was diagnosed with some form of progressive blindness. The doctor said I would be completely blind by the age of 30. I subsequently spent every moment that I wasn’t in school watching movies at the Parkway Theater in Chicago. For 50 cents, I could see three double features a week of any films they could buy for $50. I watched Italian Neorealist films, documentaries, horror movies, Don Knotts comedies — anything. I wanted to have the entire visual vocabulary of world cinema in my mind before I lost my sight. That mental library of images became my inspiration and my passion as I matured and entered the industry. For those of us who make the creation of visual stories our profession, having a comprehensive knowledge of past movies is a valuable source of emotional inspiration. The combined efforts of the cinematographer, art director, actor, sound mixer, wardrobe and makeup artists, screenwriter and director, producers, electricians and grips, props and locations, music and post processes all come together to create an emotional moment. That moment is planned yet spontaneous, something arrived at by accident and endeavor. In the documentary Winged Migration, that moment came for me when the camera flew next to the birds for the first time. It transported me to where they were and made me feel like I could fly with them. In the Japanese animated film Spirited Away, that moment came when two characters talk on a balcony at dusk as the house lights are turned off and the moon grows in brightness, outlining a train skimming along a track covered by shallow water below. In the original Godzilla, it came when I saw the titular creature appear for the first time behind the mountain with hundreds of villagers running in terror. In L’avventura, it came when Monica Vitti opened the window of the island shack to reveal a cold sunrise. When I recently saw Bela Tarr’s masterful film The Turin Horse, the magical moment arrived with the very first shot, a stunning, eight-minute view of a world-weary horse pulling a ragged cart across windswept plains. Those moments and many more form the core reason I wanted to be a cinematographer. I didn’t end up losing my sight, but the happiness those images give me, even in my dreams when I close my eyes, makes my imagination soar.
Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC. American Cinematographer

Michael Goi, ASC President

10

April 2012



American Cinematographer - April 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - April 2012

American Cinematographer - April 2012
Contents
Editor’s Note
President’s Desk
Short Takes: Polaris campaign
Production Slate: Footnote4:44 Last Day on Earth
Vice at the Vatican
Back to School
Sundance Standouts
Filmmakers’ Forum: Haskell Wexler, ASC
New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Alar Kivilo
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - American Cinematographer - April 2012
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Editor’s Note
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 9
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - President’s Desk
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 11
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Short Takes: Polaris campaign
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 13
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 14
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 15
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 16
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 17
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Production Slate: Footnote4:44 Last Day on Earth
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Vice at the Vatican
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 43
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Back to School
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Sundance Standouts
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Filmmakers’ Forum: Haskell Wexler, ASC
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 87
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - New Products & Services
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American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 101
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - International Marketplace
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Classified Ads
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Ad Index
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 105
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Clubhouse News
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - 107
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - ASC Close-Up: Alar Kivilo
American Cinematographer - April 2012 - Cover3
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