Jody Lee Lipes: Arranging ‘Furniture’

10 Cinematographers to Watch

Last year, Jody Lee Lipes became a guinea pig for indie filmmakers everywhere when he jumped at the chance to lense fellow Lena Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture” on a consumer-grade SLR camera.

“We started shooting one week after the (Canon EOS) 7D came out,” Lipes explains. “That camera was the only thing we could use to see in the dark for the elaborate night exterior stuff Lena had written. At the time, it was the fastest camera by far.”

By limiting the movement with scenes, Lipes came away with crisp, colorful HD images — and a reputation he hadn’t expected. “The downside is that a lot of people now see me as a digital SLR guy, and the thing is, it’s not really a format I ever want to work with again,” he says. “Anamorphic 35 is my preferred format.”

Lipes attended NYU with the intention of directing, but classmates such as Antonio Campos and Sean Durkin kept asking him to shoot their student films. “It sort of spiraled out of control until that was pretty much all I was doing,” Lipes says. After school, he kept up with those helmers, shooting Campos’ Cannes-selected “Afterschool” (a chilling mix of 35mm and DV formats) and Durkin’s Sundance debut “Martha Marcy May Marlene” (marked by its gorgeous widescreen cinematography).

But Lipes still hopes to get back to helming. He has made two features so far, a documentary portrait of artist Brock Enright and the stunningly lensed “NY Export: Opus Jazz,” a dance film divided into four, individually styled chapters.

Halfway through shooting Dunham’s HBO pilot “Girls,” exec producer Judd Apatow asked Lipes to direct two episodes of the first season. “Shooting helps keep my name afloat, but someday I would like to focus on directing more,” says Lipes, who next plans to tackle “Confederacy,” based on a script he spent January developing in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

VITAL STATS:
Role models:Gordon Willis and Harris Savides. I really admire the way they tell stories.”
Camera used: “I’m turning 29, and I think one thing that’s a little bit special about me, for my age, is that my most comfortable format is 35 or anamorphic 35.”
Fave tool: “Film. I’m sort of loose about which stock I prefer.”

10 Cinematographers to Watch:
Adam Arkapaw | David Boyd | Benoit Debie | Zoltan Honti | Yorick Le Saux | Jody Lee Lipes | Michael McDonough | Reed Morano | Kramer Morgenthau | Andrew Reed

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