November 29, 2013

Making a Scene: 11 (Very) Short RED EPIC-Shot Films from Legendary Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski

Janusz Kaminski is an industry legend. Since 1990, he has DP'd over 30 feature films, and been nominated for 6 cinematography Oscars (two of which he's won). His most notable work has been with Steven Spielberg, for whom he's shot just about every film in recent memory. This past month, Kaminski partnered up with The New York Times to direct 11 original short films for the NYT Magazine's "Movies Issue." Each film was shot on the RED EPIC MX (which is unusual for Kaminski since he normally shoots film) and features one of Hollywood's most prominent actors, ranging from Bradley Cooper to Robert Redford, and a single line of dialogue written by one of today's top screenwriters. Check out a few of the films below, as well as an excellent behind the scenes video showing Kaminski's filmmaking process:

Here are a few of my favorites from this wonderful little experiment in cinema. First, here's Cate Blanchett's film, featuring a line written by Andrew Bujalski:

Here's Robert Redford, with a line from comedic writers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (this one made me laugh out loud):

Here's Forest Whitaker, with a line from Greta Gerwig:

Here's Chiwetel Ejiofor, with a line from Jeff Nichols:

And here's my favorite. Greta Gerwig, featuring a line by Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater:

Of course, these aren't really short films in the traditional sense of the term. They're more like experimental vignettes that tell a story in the most abstract way imaginable. They're tone poems of cinema that feature cryptic and beautiful lines from some of today's most prolific screenwriters.

Here's a fun behind the scenes look at "Making a Scene":

What I find striking about these films is that they are "cinema for cinema's sake." They don't have an agenda or a message. They're pure cinematic expression, which is something that is rarely found outside of experimental film these days. As Kaminski expresses in the making-of video, this type of experiment allows filmmakers the ability to create with an unfettered sense of expression.

To watch the rest of these films, head on over to the New York Times Magazine website. Or you can find them on this YouTube playlist.

What do you guys think about these fun little films? Let us know in the comments!

Links:

Your Comment

58 Comments

Looks nice, but couldn't they hand him a pair of Dragons? It's Janusz frikken Kaminski, the guy who dissed digital technology for years and years. Dragon rolls off way more filmic than MX, Kaminski would appreciate that since he's is (was) a die hard "over my dead body" film guy.

November 30, 2013 at 1:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Natt

He wants to keep it down a notch to show his resentment for digital.

November 30, 2013 at 3:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Tyler

I think he should have gotten 6K RD's too.

November 30, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gene

Not really impressed by any of this...

November 30, 2013 at 3:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

7
Reply

Actors and lines are cool but cinematography, music, sound ect...have to agree, turned out to be quite mediocre.

November 30, 2013 at 4:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

7
Reply
hansd

You are funny. Got it exactly opposite

November 30, 2013 at 10:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

6
Reply
Dheep'

you are funny too then :)

November 30, 2013 at 12:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
hansd

Yeah Dheep, I don't get it either. Maybe some people feel better if they're able to express their pettiness in a comment on the internet. Red has changed the world of video. They just don't get it.

November 30, 2013 at 1:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gene

Why didn't they ask Lubezki, Deakins or Pavel Edelmann? Kaminski is one of the many "hand writing" free and most over hyped camera men ever. I find it hilarious that this hack got two Oscars and Deakins not one. But hey, if he didn't work with Spielberg he probably would still be a nobody...

November 30, 2013 at 4:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
mariano

I have no idea about Kaminski's true skills but these really are underwhelming for someone with that reputation.

November 30, 2013 at 4:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

4
Reply
hansd

He learned by trial and error in the real world. He didn't give priority over what he learned in the real world to what he learned in school. If his work isn't text book thank God for it!

November 30, 2013 at 1:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

4
Reply
Gene

What do Kaminski's skills as a DP have to do with it when he wasn't the DP?

November 30, 2013 at 4:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

2
Reply
Brian

You guys think the way a movie looks and feels due to the DP? Director has the last word on everything, including cinematography.

November 30, 2013 at 7:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
hansd

It is you that criticized Janusz Kaminskis work. Now you say the DOP isn't a factor.

November 30, 2013 at 8:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gene

why are you so into arguing

December 1, 2013 at 1:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
hansd

??

December 1, 2013 at 2:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gene

If you think a DP doesn't have any influence on the look of a film then you have no experience in this business.

December 1, 2013 at 5:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Ben

Wow goes to show why I hate shortmovies. They are not good even with tallent like this is involved. Are the new york Times laying of real journalists to afford this crap? Why can't papers report the news instead of producing mindless content?

November 30, 2013 at 5:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
T

here's a short film you may get behind; if you like a bit of reality in your face style of film making

https://vimeo.com/39929895.

November 30, 2013 at 8:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
tom

You should hear my DOP rant about how much he hates kaminski, and when you hear it from him you can understand why. Not worth getting into here but he's not really my style

November 30, 2013 at 7:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

6
Reply
Robin Schmidt

Can I see the link the the list of movies your DOP has worked in?

November 30, 2013 at 1:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

2
Reply
Gene

Hmmm. Nothing like second hand opinion - its a bit like retelling a joke.
What do you think?
And I'd be interested in why they don't rant about Kaminski - perhaps you could persuade them to comment directly?

PS: I also laughed at 'my DOP'.

November 30, 2013 at 7:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

2
Reply
marklondon

These shorts are not great, but "your DOP sounds like kind of a douche. This guy shot Saving Private Ryan. If you've got something to show from you and "your DOP" to enlighten us about how should be done, please share it !

December 1, 2013 at 7:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Stewe

Well in the credits, it says the cinematography is by Bartosz Nalazek, so I guess Kaminski is purely directing?

November 30, 2013 at 9:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gareth

SOMEONE FINALLY NOTICED.
He's been trying to sell himself as a Director for the last 3-4 years. So far, no takers.

November 30, 2013 at 7:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
marklondon

boring, very film and very pretentious. Trying to be cool and arty but it's cliche.

November 30, 2013 at 9:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

5
Reply
Lorra

Anyone know the type of lens filter used in Forest Whitaker clip? Thx

November 30, 2013 at 11:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Rick

Hey, no Pavlovian response yet: "ARRI is better."

Just the new response: "The DOP ain't so great".

Yeah, Janusz Kaminski ain't so great.

Some of the most gripping shots I've ever seen were in Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan.

November 30, 2013 at 1:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

1
Reply
Gene

I don't like his lighting. Am I not allowed? It's a matter of taste is all. Not worth getting into here but when someone is as visible as he is surely I'm entitled to have an opinion on that since it is in fact my job to. Have nothing but respect for the guy.

November 30, 2013 at 1:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Robin Schmidt

No one tried to say you can't have an opinion.

November 30, 2013 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

2
Reply
Gene

You seem to be forgetting that Kaminski was the DIRECTOR, not the DP...

November 30, 2013 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Brian

makes him responsible for cinematography

November 30, 2013 at 7:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
hansd

Have to agree with the overall negative sentiment here. This feels like sophomore film student work, with resources. "Act more crazy...more psychotic!" So lame. Reputation is everything I guess...and nothing.

November 30, 2013 at 3:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

6
Reply
filip

You're reading too deeply into these... They're just people having fun.

November 30, 2013 at 3:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
marc

Visually I think they look fine. It seems Kaminski is just having fun shooting these little snippets on a low budget like he did in film school.

However, as far as the " writing " goes,I think they sucks. I've seen much better dialogue in a 30 second advert.

November 30, 2013 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

3
Reply
Bolex16

You gotta admit, the Robert Redford one is funny...?

November 30, 2013 at 8:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

6
Reply
Gene

This is a bunch of masturbation. It just goes to show you why a DP should never, NEVER!! direct anything from scratch.

November 30, 2013 at 7:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

4
Reply
Ignacio Genzon

I guess this sums it up.

November 30, 2013 at 7:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

5
Reply
hansd

Just commenting on behalf of myself (not 'my DOP', or the girl behind me in Starbucks, or a producer who bought me lunch): that Cate Blanchett spot is FANTASTIC.

Kaminski didn't light these, and you can tell. If he had, I suspect the budget would have had to go up a hair.

I liked the films a lot. Simple, cheap (by the usual standards) and look fine. Perhaps not for the NFS market though, judging by the comments.

November 30, 2013 at 8:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

10
Reply
marklondon

I thought the color and resolution was great.

November 30, 2013 at 8:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

1
Reply
Gene

just commenting on behalf oh a real psychiatrist not myself, she suggests that 80% of the comments belong to folks in a psych ward! u guys are all crazy to not understand what the point of this was and to take it further, u diss the director and elements in this film

November 30, 2013 at 9:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
thadon calico

I wear a scarf and blazer , I want to make shorts about people running around the room, sounds like a NYU film student

November 30, 2013 at 9:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

1
Reply

They should rename this website "Bitch and Moan" that's all you people do....continuously.

November 30, 2013 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Steve M.

+1

December 1, 2013 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

1
Reply
Gene

And you're the lone knight on NFS, defending kaminski's dignity by commenting on each single negative criticism?

December 1, 2013 at 4:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
mariano

So Janusz Kaminski's work is no good?

December 1, 2013 at 8:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

1
Reply
Gene

Kaminski is totally mediocre and an effing copy cat, not speaking of his damn inflated ego. He got an Oscar for Saving Private Ryan - where the heck was Douglas Milsome's? Because it's even stated by Kaminski and his owner Spielberg that they copied Milsome's look from Full Metal Jacket 1:1 with bleach bypass (ENR process) plus mistimed 90 degree shutter. And then that Schindler's list crap. I've seen so many other breathtaking b/w movies (Dr. Strangelove or Ed Wood) but tadaaa - thanks to Spielberg's magic shit turns into gold... And now this guy believes he is a director...

December 1, 2013 at 1:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

6
Reply
mariano

We all have an opinion.

December 1, 2013 at 5:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

7
Reply
Gene

@ Mariano:

wow...so Kaminski's work on Pvt. Ryan is derivative? What about just about every single shaky-cam 45º shutter movie in the past 15 years? Pvt. Ryan is as influential on cinematography as Se7en was. So many movies have directly copied this two movies more than any other movies from the 90's, IMO! Hands down! In fact, looking backwards, it's easier to miss how influential these films were b/c everything else after them look like them. (It's definitely easier to see from this point of view if you saw Pvt. Ryan and Se7en in the theaters when they were new instead of years later when all these films had been first viewed after seeing their visual offspring.)

A decision between a director and DP about a look or mood or angle to approach the filming of a movie hardly makes it derivative. I think having an angle like that is just a starting point. Spielberg/Kaminski have their movie and style to that movie and Kubrick/Milsome have theirs. You think Kubrick/Milsome called up Spielberg/Kaminski to bitch about ripping off their look? Of course not, at least the directors had a long mutually admirable relationship with each other. Of course I don't know anything about Kaminski and Milsome, but that sort of look is it's own thing, in fact that decision could have easily been Spielberg's, not Kaminski's. Every director/DP relationship is different, but who cares...Pvt. Ryan looks good all on it's own...and Pvt. Ryan looks like a Spielberg movie and FMJ looks like a Kubrick movie. How much influence is the director in this? How much is the DP? How much is the DP successfully giving the director the look he or she feels that director wants?

So is Pvt Ryan just as derivative of 1984 b/c Deakins used bleach bypass or derivative of Kurusawa cuz he often used a 45º shutter? No, that's silly. They take elements from different things and just use what they feel works for each film. One of the qualities I like about Kaminski is that he manages to make a film still look like a Spielberg film look like a Spielberg film, and make a Vanilla Ice movie look like a Vanilla Ice movie (I'm not joking, he did a Vanilla Ice movie, and as stupid and vapid as it is, it looks gorgeous). And on top of it, he makes each movie still look different from the Last, even for the same director. Pvt Ryan looks nothing like Munich, which looks nothing like Catch Me If You Can...

December 5, 2013 at 9:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Daniel Mimura

But you are forced by Al Kaida to come back here? Like your buddy Gene?

December 1, 2013 at 4:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
mariano

Yeah, me n Steve are buddies. We go waaaaay back, man! ;-)

December 1, 2013 at 8:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gene

OK. These are not movies. Not even "Short Film." They are **exercises** done with more budget and name actors than a film a school assignment. But in the end, that's all they are: an exercise. You know, like "Hey, I want to try something just to try something.

Rather than bitch & moan, check them out. Remember, they're NOT stories. Watch how the camera moves. Watch how light changes everything. Watch the edits. Watch the colors. Did I love each one? No. Did I learn something from each one? Yes (even if it's "I don't dig that").

If any commenters have their own experiments of similar style (but better, of course), by all means, post them. No material? I'll write the lines for your first three. You cast and film them… 

"Yeah. That makes your butt look fat. But I'm o.k. with it."

"Everything happened in slow motion until the last casing hit the floor -- that brassy sound was the first thing I heard."

"I want to remember that for the rest of my life."

Go.

November 30, 2013 at 11:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Erik Stenbakken

Thank you!

December 1, 2013 at 10:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
thadon calico

Mark it on a calender: a post with the word Red in the title didn't have someone comment, "ARRI is better".

December 1, 2013 at 5:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Gene

Nothing interesting here. Tons of credits and hype and zero action at all.

December 4, 2013 at 3:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

3
Reply
Kuk

Pieces like this I don't understand but I appreciate the fact that I have something to watch and learn from. I see a lot of people don't like the videos or the DP/Director.. I guess that art though, there are no rights and there are no wrongs, it's all just personal opinion and taste in aesthetics.

December 5, 2013 at 4:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
B.Few

The fact is that everybody is entitled to have there opinion of the guy, but unless you can show screen credits for major features, and have more than two Oscars sitting on your shelf, don't comment on how terrible he is as a DP, unless you can step up to the plate, and show us what you got.

December 5, 2013 at 6:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Johno

Not sure why everyone is ranting about these shorts. There are shorts in the internet I can't stand watching and yet you guys say are the bests. At least these ones I actually watched until the ending and thought it was cool, nice lines, music, colors, photography. Once in a while you guys must remember is not everything technical, sometimes you just want something that people watch. After all, no one is going to realize something like that.

December 22, 2014 at 10:48PM

7
Reply
avatar
Lucas Zanella
Director / DP / Editor
27