Exercising micromanagement and fine-tune control over the minutia of scenery is a must in filmmaking for all but the most hardcore run-and-gun-style productions. It's not very often, however, that you see production-level set design and construction, prop manipulation down to the inch, or cinema lighting used to illuminate deep lived-in landscapes in still photography. Gregory Crewdson does just this, implementing an unheard-of degree of visionary control upon the constituents of his still frames -- the image at left, for one, is no incidental happenstance. Filmmaker Ben Shapiro has documented Crewdson's decade-spanning pursuit of creating true-to-life vignettes by fictitious articulation in Brief Encounters -- screenings are limited, but the doc looks to be a must-see. Watch the trailer and some clips from the film below.

The word that popped into my head, which wouldn't dissipate for some time after viewing, was simply, "Wow." It may be needless to say, but I've been on many a film production without the degree of artistic manipulation Crewdson achieves here. That may be because traditionally, a crew that spends considerable time and energy to set up the perfect shot (nature permitting and all, sunsets are important) can take comfort in the fact their work lives on a lot of pictures -- generally, you know, around 24 a second. Followed by other shots, coverage, and a resultant living and moving scene. Here, a living scene is certainly created, but on a scale all its own. The scene is the still, the unmoving master -- and everything the viewer needs to know, see, and feel has been crafted and instilled into it.

It's worth reiterating -- this amount of design and preparation is for a single, perfect still image:


I'll include a final clip -- this one details the genesis of Crewdson's part-staged part-natural stylings, and how crisis can birth (and maybe even be alleviated by) a singular creative vision:

If this incredible creative process and accomplishment interests you, be sure to check out Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters's website, where you can find one of the limited screenings near you, as well as reserve yourself a seat.


[via The Verge]