Why Oscar-Winning DP Kirsten Johnson's Sundance Opus is Required Viewing for Aspiring Filmmakers
How do you stop a taxi to film outside an Al Qaeda prison? What was the conversation between Cpl. Abdul Henderson and Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11? Where is that secret thumbdrive from Citizenfour?
Compiled from over 30 years of footage from legendary, Oscar-winning doc DP Kirsten Johnson, Cameraperson answers these questions and more. It may just be the most important film you’ll ever see as a filmmaker, let alone as a vérité documentarian.
Raw footage (with behind-the-scenes bits left in) is painstakingly crafted together to reflect the internal struggles of the cameraperson in relation to the subject. From shocking genocide to the miracle of birth, the film raises provocative questions about humanity and the role of the filmmaker in it.
We got the chance to sit down with Kirsten at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to talk to about her process and artistic vision over the years. Take a look at Part 1 of our interview:
"Suddenly you realize, in what a person’s saying, you may be able to intuit what will come next. That’s one of the most import parts of being a cameraperson—knowing when you want to move, and why it’s important to move. And that you can hear."
You have to remember the camera is an instrument of power—How you use that power is your choice. Sometimes it’s completely out of your control. And sometimes you can’t know in that moment what it will do in the future.
Here's a partial list of Kirsten Johnson's impressive filmography, from which footage was pulled for Cameraperson:
- I Came to Testify
- Audrie and Daisy
- Cradle of Champions
- Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs Gravity
- The Edge of Joy
- Darfur Now
- Pray the Devil Back to Hell
- Very Semi-Serious
- Throw Down Your Heart
- Two Towns of Jasper
- The Oath
- Happy Valley
- Fahrenheit 9/11
- The Joy of Extreme Possibility
- Buffalo Returns
- Ladies First
- Virgin Tales
- Here One Day
- The Way We Are Living
- This Very Life
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our interview with Kirsten Johnson, and for when and where you can see Cameraperson for yourself.
For more, see our complete coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
No Film School's video and editorial coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by Blackmagic Design.