June 22, 2016

The Method to the Madness of Christopher Doyle's Cinematography

DP Christopher Doyle is unique, to say the least.

From his philosophy to the way he answers questions in interviews, everything that Christopher Doyle does is brutally honest and uncompromising, especially when it comes to cinematography.

In yet another fantastic breakdown, wolfcrow's Sareesh Sudhakaran explains a variety of techniques Doyle used on films like In the Mood for Love2046, and Lady in the Water.

Doyle is certainly an incredible artist with a style all his own, often experimenting with slow motion, motion blur, as well as rhythmic and arbitrary camera movement to tell stories in ways they've never been told before. His style is always changing and evolving, but it seems to always have a strange balance between realism and surrealism.

Despite his incredible creative fortitude, he submits to the vision and leadership of the director, like any master of the craft would. 

But that's not the lesson Doyle himself would give. When I interviewed him and director Alejandro Jodorowsky last year about their latest collaboration on the film Endless Poetry, he did what I thought he'd do—give an answer I never thought he'd give. He didn't wax poetic. He didn't impart some transcendent knowledge. When I asked him what kind of advice he'd share to new cinematographers, he simply said: "The same as always, 'Just do it.' In today's world, there is no excuse not to."

'2046' (2004)

At first, all I thought was, "Cool, here I am interviewing one of the greatest cinematographers in the world and this is the piece of advice he's giving to me to bring back to the village?" It's like finally finding the magic beans and climbing to the top of the beanstalk, only to find that the Golden Goose lays regular eggs.

But that's the thing about Doyle. He doesn't care if it's what you want to hear; it's the truth—the truth that comes from the brutal honesty we see in his work.

Besides, he's right: normal eggs are essential. If you want to be a cinematographer, do it. There are no excuses.     

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2 Comments

One of my favorite cinematographers. Thanks for post this!

June 22, 2016 at 4:50PM

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Kevin Greene
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Why did most of this video look like VHS tape?

June 23, 2016 at 10:44AM

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Richard Krall
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