How to be a World-Class Documentary Cinematographer: Be a Hunter, Not a Farmer [PODCAST]
How do you ensure you’re getting beautiful footage that tells a story, without controlling any of the elements involved? That’s the challenge of being a documentary cinematographer — and with over 100 films between them, Martina Radwan and Nick Higgins have learned to thrive under that challenge. Listen to the No Film School Podcast to hear cutting edge strategies from two cinematographers at the top of their game:
“I was always more interested in the hunting, rather than the farming of scripted material,” says Nick, sitting next to Martina and myself at the Canon Creative Studio during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Nick, whose work includes The Crash Reel and Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, was at the festival with the new seven hour series O.J.: Made in America. Martina, whose previous work includes Watchers of the Sky and Hot Coffee, was at the festival with The Eagle Huntress and Trapped.
Listen to the full podcast above to hear a range of topics, including:
- Skills needed to be a DP on the set of a documentary
- Best Practices for documentary interviews
- Techniques and philosophies of shooting vérité
- Using natural light and other tricks for ensuring a quality image
- Advice on becoming a professional DP
"I was on my own for ten days [in Mongolia]. You live with the family, you live with the characters, you all sleep in the same room. So you can’t show up with a big crew."
"We created these atmospheres that didn’t change, that looked naturalistic, that didn’t overpower the conversation."
"I was always more interested in the hunting, rather than the farming of scripted material..."
"We are like session musicians. Someone gets some money together, they want to call someone who's not going to screw up their album."