Category Archives: Cinematographer

Canada’s Leading Cinematographer Jonathan Bensimon

Jonathan Bensimon
Cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond (left), Jonathan Bensimon (center) & László Kovács (right)

Jonathan Bensimon is a rare breed of visionary. As both a director and cinematographer, he exercises precise control over both the storytelling and artistic aspects of his craft. He has worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, and his exceptional talent behind the camera has earned him a myriad of awards from some of the most prestigious institutions in the business. His work with a camera knows no boundaries in genre or format, and includes everything from feature length and short films, documentaries, dramas and comedies, to music videos for major artists and commercials Fortune 500 companies.

Bensimon began his training in Toronto, and before long earned a coveted place in the exclusive Budapest Cinematography Masterclass, a program funded by Kodak and taught by Vilmos Zsigmond. Zsigmond himself has had an enormous impact on the field, having won an Oscar for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a BAFTA for The Deer Hunter, as well as an Academy Award nomination for the latter film. During this period, Bensimon worked hand-in-hand with Zsigmond on the inimitable Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda.

You Might As Well Live, Bensimon’s first feature film as a cinematographer, was a dark comedy about a “loser” trying desperately to change his fortunes. The film also marked the first feature film collaboration between director Simon Ennis and Bensimon, and garnered praise from critics at publications such as Variety and The Toronto Star. The film stars Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Vol. I & II), and won the award for “Most Interesting Film” at the Slamdance Film Festival where it premiered in 2009.

Having proven his innate ability to capture the essence and vision of a story on film, Simon Ennis once again chose Bensimon as the cinematographer on his film Lunarcy!.

The film premiered at the world renowned Toronto International Film Festival, and has since aired on television channels around the world.

Being that the film Lunarcy! is a documentary and the subjects aren’t actors, missing the right moment means the moment is lost, it can’t be fixed by calling another take. Bensimon had to be constantly aware of the subjects in order to catch them at their most earnest, and sometimes most vulnerable, moments.

“Although this film had a comic undertone, it was also filled with heartwarming moments,” Bensimon said when describing the challenges of the documentary. “As the cinematographer on such a documentary I had to make sure the camera was in the right place at the right time to capture these moments.”

Bensimon’s artistic vision behind the camera is perhaps best exhibited in The Long Autumn, a film set in a land where seasons last 10 years. Filmed entirely in a studio, he had to rely on his raw talent to portray a beautiful environment where the passing of seasons and years is completely fabricated, yet wholly immersive and believable.

“A climactic scene takes place just before winter sets in,” said Bensimon, describing his signature technique and unique visual approach. “To light the surreal set, I used blacks and deep blues to illustrate the darkness and the drama of the scene. The film was shot on Super 16 to give the images texture and grain.”

Bensimon again applied that vision in his work on The Death of Chet Baker, a dark film about the jazz icon’s mysterious death. Exhibiting his adaptive style, Bensimon filmed primarily on a handheld camera in low light to capture the haunting mood.

His critically-acclaimed work is by no means limited to his work on films, however. He’s been receiving recognition and praise for his cinematography and directorial work on music videos for nearly a decade, and has been credited on more than 25 videos for international recording artists. Among those musicians is Grammy and Juno Award winner Nelly Furtado; Bensimon exhibited his diverse talent for cinematography in Furtado’s video, Spirit Indestructible.

Bensimon’s cinematography in the video for Canadian artist Kreesha Turner’s hit song Rock Paper Scissors was also nominated for a MuchMusic Video Award in 2012.

In addition to this immense catalog of work, Bensimon has also served as both director and cinematographer on dozens of commercials and advertising campaigns. Notably, his work directing and filming the hilarious Canadian Zombie short film, promoting the Canadian Film Festival, earned him one gold and two silver medals across three categories from the Advertising and Design Club of Canada. The promo also made the short list for the Cannes Lions, the branch of the Cannes Film Festival that awards filmmakers of advertisements; the Cannes Lions festival has been referred to as the world’s biggest ad-film festival.

His immense commercial resume also includes gold medal-winning work on several public service announcements for the World AIDS Organization, as well as both director and cinematographer credits on advertising campaigns for massive international companies such as Walmart, Honda, Mazda, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Budweiser, Tylenol, Bayer, Hitachi, Keurig and Hershey’s, just to name a few.

Nobody else in the field today can match Jonathan Bensimon’s cinematography chops. He is without a doubt one of the most talented and prolific filmmakers in the business, and his credits and commendations are sure to multiply exponentially over the coming months. Most importantly, Bensimon has exhibited a rare and masterful ability to produce work that is at times commercial, at other times entertainment, but no matter the project, his work without exception possesses the touch of a visionary and an artist.

Talented Cinematographer Brings the Film “Dirty Laundry” To Life

Cinematographer Guy Pooles
             Cinematographer Guy Pooles shot by Michel Copeland Toft

A common theme among many Los Angeles transplants is a desire to make it big in one aspect or another of the film industry. Whether it is because they were a big fish in a small pond who have been told since they were young that they belong on camera, or they have worked their whole life to be accepted as a filmmaker in Hollywood, there is so much more to film than just being talented in one’s creative field; film is a collaboration between countless departments who must individually put their egos aside in favor of the story they are creating for the audience.

For internationally respected cinematographer Guy Pooles, this foundational aspect of filmmaking is basic knowledge; and, the process as a whole is something that allows for a level of fulfillment that far surpasses anything that stems from ego-driven motives.

According to Pooles, “Cinema is a fusion of many different art forms, from writing, to music, to costume design and so on. Good cinema is brought into being by every one of those crafts working in harmony to achieve a collective vision.”

An incredible asset to every production to which he lends his name, and believe me, there have been many as he has worked non-stop over the last five years in both the UK and the United States, Pooles is the kind of cinematographer who is not only able to bring stories to life in an extraordinary manner, but he is also heavily conscious of how is work will blend with the work of each and every other department in the final product, the mark of a true collaborative genius. He explains this necessary attitude toward filmmaking by saying, “If I’m too preoccupied with how I’m lighting a scene to notice how it destroys the subtlety of a set design, or how it distracts from an actor’s performance, then a couple of audience members might leave the cinema saying “I liked the lighting” but no one will be saying “I liked the film”.”

Originally from England, Guy Pooles reached international acclaim after working as the cinematographer on the film Dirty Laundry, which was released in 2013. Directed by Aaron Martinez (Substrata), Dirty Laundry received incredible praise, as well as an impressive list of awards last year at film festivals around the world. To name a few, Dirty Laundry garnered an award from the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, a Golden Starfish Award at the Hampton’s International Film Festival, as well as was an Official Selection at the BUSTER Children’s Film Festival Copenhagen, LA Shorts Fest and the DC Shorts Film Festival, and a Special Mention Award at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival. Pooles was also honored on an individual level for his cinematography work on the film with the Linwood Dunn Heritage Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.

A beautifully shot film, Dirty Laundry follows a young boy named Sam (Zander Faden) as he traverses his beyond heartbreaking childhood full of real life bullies and those of which only he can see like that of the laundry monster. After Sam’s father abandons his family, and Sam’s mother falls into a dark and paralyzing depression, the young boy is forced to fend for himself on every level from the unrelenting bullies at school to the monster inside the ever piling dirty laundry within the basement. The level of collaboration and creativity that went into Dirty Laundry all the way down to the way the team managed to bring the laundry monster to life is staggering. Using miscellaneous clothing pieces, all of which were chosen by color and texture in order to fit the film’s palette, and a hand & rod puppet that required three performers to operate, they miraculously brought the laundry monster to life in a way that was not only believable, but frighteningly beautiful as well.

Shamim Seifzadeh, the production designer on Dirty Laundry, says, “I removed the common purpose from each piece of clothing, only to re-assign them to the monsters body parts. In the end, pants became the head; back pockets became his eyes; a zipper became his mouth; and socks became his fingers…. The final design concept became a giant, hunch-backed creature. His weight would not allow him to run fast but his sheer size made him intimidating. It is important to note that the Laundry Monster isn’t evil, but rather, misunderstood.”

Pooles used his expertise as the film’s cinematographer to create a dark and eerie atmosphere within the film that fully supports Sam’s mother’s debilitating depression and the cold world Sam lives in by using little, if any, artificial light. The film is shot solely from Sam’s point of view, a choice that posed challenges, but ultimately made Dirty Laundry a riveting masterpiece that allowed the audience to feel Sam’s struggle and experience his reality with little effort.

In reference to the technical cinematographic decisions that went into the film Pooles recalls, “Our first rule was that the camera would always be at the exact eye- height of Sam… This meant that when the other characters of the film towered over Sam in height, they were towering over the camera, and thus, the audience too. Another tool we utilized was to maintain the relative distance of objects and other characters. So if Sam sees something that’s on the other side of the room from him, the camera will then observe it from the other side of the room.”

While these elements combined to create the film’s general perspective as it unfolds before the audience, there was another more philosophical approach that went into providing the film with its capacity to touch the audience emotionally.

“The strongest tool we utilized was the notion of Pathetic Fallacy, where we render the world surrounding Sam, not how it would realistically appear, but rather how it feels to Sam. Examples of us doing this were: lighting each scene to feel de-saturated and overcast, helping the audience to feel the lack of warmth and colour in Sam’s life,” explains Pooles. “We would also often place Sam in a frame so that he was very small in relation to his empty environment, allowing the audience to understand the extent of the isolation that he feels.”

An even greater testament to this talented young Englishman’s auteur is the fact that Pooles wrote the film in addition to working as its cinematographer, no small feat, but one he seamlessly accomplished as proven by the shear number of awards the film received. Aside from Pooles’ work on Dirty Laundry, he has worked as the cinematographer on the films Happenstance, Martha, Jobe, What Must Be Done. What The Monkey Saw, Wake, Chronophobia, as well as the music video for Bryarly’s hit song ‘In The Bright Daylight’ and the documentary Best of The Pacific Northwest.

Guy Pooles is undoubtedly a cinematographer whose creative vision, backed by his highly specialized technical skills, will continue to impress for decades to come; and frankly, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

 

Acclaimed Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse!

Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse
                                                     Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse

Although Kristin Fieldhouse first obtained a Bachelors and Masters in International Development and Politics at the University of Sussex in England, an area of concentration that led her to spend several years working for the United Nations across Africa and Asia, her love of photography and it’s integral role in filmmaking was something too powerful to ignore. The now highly sought after cinematographer discovered her passion for photography in her youth.

“I lost my dad and my sister at a young age – so photography helped me through that period. It was my salvation in a way, a chance to connect with people through an artist medium and express what I was feeling and going through,” admits Kristin Fieldhouse. “Later on, cinematography offered me a new and exciting challenge. The moving image was fascinating for me and I loved the idea of sequences of images to tell a story.”

After spending several years working for the UN, Fieldhouse moved to Canada where she further honed and perfected her skills behind the camera lens. “I worked and studied as a camera technician for many years working my way up through the Cinematographer’s Guild I.A.T.S.E before starting to shoot my own work,” explains Fieldhouse.

A testament to her unparalleled skill in the field, Kristin Fieldhouse was accepted as one of only 28 cinematographers admitted into the American Film Institute’s competitive conservatory program where she received her MFA. With an impressive list of award-winning projects already under her belt, Fieldhouse’s work undoubtedly speaks for itself. The cinematographer received the Kodak Student Cinematography Award for her work on the film The Man Who Found DB Cooper, as well as the award for Best Cinematography at the Milledgeville Film Festival and the John Kelly Award for Excellence in Cinematography at the Fresno Film Festival for her work on the film Young Americans, and the award for Best Cinematography at the Real Teal Film Festival for her work on the film TESS.

One of Kristin Fieldhouse’s other recent projects, Kepler X-47, has also had an incredibly successful run on the film festival circuit as it was chosen as an Official Selection at The LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Comikazee Expo, ImagineNative Film & Media Arts Festival, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival, The Geekie Awards, Dragon Con Film Festival, and many others. Directed by Erin Li Kepler X-47 is a sci-fi film that follows a woman as she struggles to adjust to her new life as part of a human zoo exhibit on an alien planet 5,000 light years from earth. The film put Fieldhouse’s talents to the test as it required extensive period costumes, futuristic locations and dynamic lighting choices.

Fieldhouse explains, “This project was demanding in terms of budget and I had to come up with cheap lighting solutions that gave a large range of looks from candlelight dinner scenes at tables to large soft sources above actors to give them freedom to move, but would also create an eerie look. Panavision came onboard and helped us by providing great lenses, which I netted to give a softer image and raise the black levels. I remember spending many hours testing out different kinds of stockings from stores around LA.”

Kristin Fieldhouse’s vast knowledge, dedication and substantial creative contributions to Kepler X-47 show through in the film’s end product and are proven by the film’s incredible success.

“I was inspired by the painters such as Caravaggio and wanted to be able to paint with light the way they would paint with oils,” says Fieldhouse. “We used a combination of in-camera effects and glass, with dramatic lighting, and I believe this gave the film an elevated look that took the audience on a beautiful and believable journey.”

Some of Kristin Fieldhouse’s other work as a cinematographer includes the films My Little Eye, Palm Swings, Brown Bag, He’s The Best, Borja, Future Me, Release, The Tent, Life In The Gutter, Hide & Seek and Things Go Wrong, as well as commercials for globally known brands like Nike, Coors Light and Kodak. The cinematographer has also contributed heavily to the camera departments on the films The Echo, Total Recall, The Incredible Hulk, Diary Of The Dead, House At The End of The Street, Resident Evil: Afterlife and A Beginner’s Guide To Endings, as well as the hit television shows Flashpoint, Happy Town, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures Fairfield Road, Abra Ca Debra, Nikita, Covert Affairs, Warehouse 13, Unrivaled, Latest Buzz, Unnatural History, The Night Before The Night Before Christmas, Alphas, Kenny v. Spenny and many more.

To find out more about Kristin Fieldhouse’s incredible work as a cinematographer be sure to check out her website http://kristinfieldhouse.com/ and her IMDb page http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2465060/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

French Film Wizard Emeric Le Bars!

Emeric Le Bars
Editor Emeric Le Bars

Although they are never seen on screen, film editors select every single shot the audience sees, a role that holds the power to make or break a project. Something of a film wizard, Emeric Le Bars is among the best European editors working in the entertainment industry today.

Originally from France, Emeric Le Bars has been honing his skills as a professional film editor for more than a decade. The talented young editor has continued to expand on his already impressive repertoire of work since moving to the United States a few years ago.

Le Bars is currently working on a feature film entitled Perception of Art, directed by German filmmaker Roana Wullinger (Moonflower, Rain Day, Brown Bag, Second Date?, Soul Bird). Set for release in February 2015, Perception of Art is a dramatic comedy about a spoiled yet struggling Italian painter who receives an opportunity to bring his art into the spotlight, but to his dismay, the opportunity requires him to collaborate with a cleaning lady. In addition to his work as lead editor on Perception of Art, Le Bars is also working as a colorist for the filmLe Bars explains, “In the film two worlds clash together and the entertainment value is impeccable.”

Emeric Le Bars first met director Roana Wullinger at Smile TV, where he is employed as an editor. Two incredibly talented individuals, Le Bars and Wullinger intend to continue collaborating after the release of the film. They have already started the groundwork for their next project, a documentary that focuses on the lives of children in the Middle East, and Le Bars says, “We want to keep working together for as long as we can!”

While working as an editor for Smile TV, Le Bars has lent his creative talents to more than 15 interstitials for PBS SoCal and 2 segments through the series LAaRT, which highlights the Los Angeles art scene and airs on PBS Southern California. Proving his incredible diversity in the industry, Le Bars served as chief editor and director of photography on an episode of LAaRT entitled “Homeless Karaoke.” He describes the episode like this, “After a day of quietly asking for change, this diverse group of people comes in from the street to hear and be heard.” At a venue that enables the homeless population of Skid Row to lift themselves up through music and companionship, Le Bars admits, “The talent will surprise you!”

Over the years Le Bars has displayed his passion and talent for editing in numerous projects, and he continues to give life to the footage he edits on a daily basis. “I love creating a story from nothing, sharing emotion and feeling,” remarks Le Bars. “There are thousands of ways to edit one video and you choose the one you want. You decide how you want to tell the story and what feelings you want to share.”

In this way, Le Bars accurately describes just how important someone in his position is to the production process, and we look forward to seeing what he creates next.

Cinematographer Johanna Coelho, A Visual Psychologist

One of the most captivating things about a film, or rather, a good film, is the compelling nature of its imagery. The way a single shot can effect our emotions as an audience provides cinematographers with the powerful tool to create a visual language that runs along with the film’s story.

French cinematographer Johanna Coelho falls into the group of cinematographers who are known for making films that draw viewers in with their film’s visually stimulating imagery and leaves them with an emotional experience.

Coelho explains, “Images have always been a passion for me. From an early age onward I was very interested in understanding how we can visually transmit feelings and emotions.”

What separates the best cinematographers from the mediocre is their ability to shift the mood and style of the images in a way that is cohesive to the ever-changing elements of the story— but more importantly, they need to accomplish this without the audience noticing.

If viewers become preoccupied with the images in a film to the point of overshadowing the story, then the purpose of film as a medium for expression has been lost.

This subtle balance is something that Johanna Coelho, and the rest of the world’s most renowned cinematographers, recognize and execute on a daily basis in their work.

“My job is to create images that represent the vision of the director in the film,” said Johanna Coelho. “I have to be able to interpret emotions visually and create the story’s various atmospheres in the best possible way. I like to say cinematographers are visual psychologists.”

Coelho, who is originally from France, has worked on an impressive list of projects that not only show her diversity when it comes to choosing what images strike the perfect balance in the way of what’s appropriate for contrasting genres, but also display her unparalleled abilities to propel the overall energy of the story to a place that visually impacts viewers’ on an emotional level.

As the cinematographer, also known as the director of photography, of the film Scaremonger, which debuted earlier this year, Coelho was in charge of creating a juxtaposition of imagery that had elements of both realism and fantasy. The film centers on the story of a mother worried for her son who is being bullied by the neighborhood kids.

“The director wanted to treat this social issue as a dark fairytale,” said Coelho. “I had to create this magical atmosphere for the mom’s nightmares versus a pretty realistic look for the day scenes. We created gigantic shadows representing monsters appearing on the walls, we tried to make them happen as much as we could on set, and for some of them we had to use VFX. It was very interesting to see what the limits of what we could achieve on set with the resources we had were.”

The outcome of the film serves as a testament to Johanna Coelho’s extraordinary creativity and skill as a cinematographer. The film did astonishingly well on the festival circuit where it received the awards for Best Narrative Film at the 2014 California International Shorts Festival and Best LGBT Film at the 2014 Fulbright Film Festival, as well as was an Official Selection at the IFS Film Festival, Serbia’s Cinema City Festival, Costa Rica’s International Film Festival, and the renowned Montreal World Film Festival.

Poster from the film Scaremonger
Poster from the film Scaremonger