May 25, 2016 at 8:36AM
Vilmos Zsigmond: Cinematography Masterclass
While actors, directors and even producers are attached in public and prominent ways to the films they work to create, it would be foolish to pretend that the individuality and quality of a film is reliant only on such figures. As the 2012 documentary Casting By showed us, the chemistry between leads or the cohesiveness of an ensemble cast is often due to casting directors, not just the actors themselves.
Interviews such as this one reveal how important the work of hair and makeup artists is to bringing out a character’s identity, maintaining authenticity and building the look of a film. Films like Laurent Cantet’s Entre les murs reveal just how integral a screenwriter’s role can be, even in a film with largely improvised dialogue.
However, one of the most underestimated contributions to filmmaking is that of the cinematographer. Many tend to view visual framing, camera movement and cinematographic effects as the sole work of a director. Yet cinematography is a fine art in itself, and as proven by recent films such as The Revenant, shot by Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubeski, a skilled cinematographer can elevate an entire film.
Yet perhaps the greatest cinematographer of the last 50 years is the Hungarian-American Vilmos Zsigmond ASC, who passed away on January 1, 2016 at the age of 86.
Beginning his career behind the camera for Robert Altman in the 1970s, Vilmos Zsigmond shot such varied and renowned films as Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (for which he picked up an Oscar® for Best Cinematography), Brian De Palma’s Obsession, George Miller’s The Witches of Eastwick and Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda.
To pass from Altman to De Palma to Allen requires a technical flexibility and artistic fluidity few can harness. Directors are often lauded for developing an idiosyncratic filmmaking style. Yet cinematographers like Vilmos Zsigmond showed their true talents as artistic chameleons, bringing a multitude of filmmaking styles to life.
Check out his masterclass here: https://www.indiefilmhustle.com/vilmos-zsigmond-cinematography-masterclass/