Mihai Malaimare Jr. has something to say on the subject of one’s wildest dreams becoming reality. He was just another aspiring Romanian cinematographer in early 2005 when an art director friend suggested he audition for Francis Ford Coppola, then readying his first film in a decade, “Youth Without Youth,” in Bucharest.
“For me, it was a blessing just to be able to do the test,” says Malaimare. “I never expected to do the whole movie. After about two months, I received an e-mail from Francis, and as you can imagine, I was very happy and surprised.”
Malaimare’s lack of experience shooting features in digital, Coppola’s present preference, proved no problem. The helmer simply sent him to Sony’s L.A. studios for training.
Much more important was their aesthetic symbiosis.
“Francis chose a style, and from the beginning, he was telling pretty much everybody not to move the camera,” recalls Malaimare. “I was really happy with that, because it was close to photography, which I had studied as a teenager.”
Composition became the name of the game. “The frame is really locked, and you are not following the actors,” says the young lenser. “You are concentrating more on light and shadows and color.”
So successful was their collaboration that Malaimare is currently in pre-production on Coppola’s next film, “Tetro,” set to shoot early next year in Argentina.
But this gifted up-and-comer won’t commit beyond that. “I like to concentrate on now rather than thinking about the future,” he says.
Fave tools: Diopters, digiprimes, Leader vectorscope
Preferred film stock or camera: “I was really happy with Kodak Vision 320T, but now I prefer working in HD with the Sony F900. I was looking a little bit at the new Sony F23, and I think it’s a great camera.”
Inspirations: Vittorio Storaro, Gordon Willis, Jack Cardiff and Claude Lelouch
Up next: “Tetro,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Rep: No agent for now