Pawel Edelman

Oliver Twist

Key credits: “Pan Tadeusz,” “The Pianist,” “Ray”

Awards: Cesar, European Film Award, Polish Film Award for “The Pianist”; Polish Film Award for “Pan Tadeusz”

Connection: “The first film I did with (‘Oliver Twist’ director) Roman Polanski was ‘The Pianist.’ After this experience, Roman decided to work with me again because he says that I stay calm when he gets a little hysterical,” Edelman says.

Equipment: “We used Panavision Millennium and XL. The whole movie is shot with two lenses: 21mm and 28mm. I decided to use Kodak Vision 2 250D and Vision 500T,” Edelman says. “I know it’s irrational, but I was trying not to filter too much, and that’s why I used daylight stock. Roman wanted our new movie to look ‘bigger than life.’ That’s why we used wider lenses and more dramatic or extreme points of view. The camera was very often placed lower, from the boys’ perspective. My lighting approach was slightly different. I didn’t want it to be as realistic as usual, so my goal was to be a little expressionistic.”

Challenge: “Seventy-five percent of the movie is night scenes, most of the time with moving light sources such as candles and lanterns. That meant that behind the scene of each simple-looking shot, a ballet of electricians carried different types of lights, booms, Chinese lanterns and balloons. And all that happened with a 21mm lens in the camera in relatively small sets. Of course, the real challenge was to create 19th-century London in Barrandov Film Studio in Prague, and this involved teamwork. Our brilliant production designer Allan Starski built such magnificent sets that our task was just to show them as detailed as we could.”

Setback and solution: “The big exterior night scenes involving kid actors. We couldn’t shoot the whole night with 12-year-old boys, so we had to split all these scenes into small two or three setup sections and shoot them during two months. This is always difficult because you have to match shoots you’ve done two months ago.”

Creative mantra: “I have plenty of mantras I use in different situations. For example, ‘There is always a good solution; you just have to find it,’ or, ‘Even the longest shooting day has its end,’ or, ‘Are you sure you need this backlight?’ But a more serious one is, ‘Less is more.’ I also believe that each script, each story, needs a different approach. What’s important in this job is finding the right tools or style to tell the story in the most effective way. After finding this way, everything is easy and organic and just technical.”

Upcoming: “After ‘Oliver Twist,’ I shot ‘All the Kings Men,’ directed by Steve Zaillian, and now I’m waiting for final cut to start digital timing. My next project is a Polish movie directed by Andrzej Wajda.”

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