×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jean-Yves Escoffier

The Human Stain

A French cinema veteran who shot such American indies as “Gummo” and “Nurse Betty” as well as the Oscar-decorated “Good Will Hunting,” Jean-Yves Escoffier tragically passed away in April at 52, shortly after completing post-production on “The Human Stain.”

The film’s director, Robert Benton, was heartbroken by Escoffier’s death, saying he had hoped to collaborate with Escoffier for years to come in the same kind of partnership Benton once had with the late d.p. Nestor Almendros, who helped Benton win a directing Oscar for “Kramer vs. Kramer” in 1979.

Escoffier’s work on “The Human Stain,” a dark and tragic story, makes extensive use of muted colors, mixes flashbacks with present-day material, and subtly makes distinctions about race apparent in the cinematography. Although Escoffier followed Benton’s basic visual template, the director credits Escoffier with helping him develop that template, particularly with his use of a naturalistic, soft-lighting scheme and his dominance of the digital intermediate process.

“I trusted Jean-Yves so completely that I never suggested lenses or camera positions to him, and I only looked through the lens when Jean-Yves asked me to,” Benton recalls. “I knew little about digital intermediate, but Jean-Yves was so well prepared and had such a clear understanding of what he needed to do, that it was easy to let him take the lead there.”

Indeed, the DI on the film, performed at Technique in Burbank, in collaboration with colorist Stephen Nakamura, was Escoffier’s idea. Nakamura says numerous scenes in the film were slightly adjusted or manipulated under Escoffier’s watchful eye as part of extending his cinematography.

Escoffier was working on Wong Kar- Wai’s “2046” at the time of his death, a project that is being finished by d.p. Christopher Doyle.

Snapshot
Key tools: Panavision Platinum for ‘A’ camera and Panavision XL for Steadicam; Kodak 5274 (200 ASA) stock, with some 5279 (500 ASA) mixed in for night sequences.
Aesthetic: Director Robert Benton says Escoffier helped him create a palette filled with “muted colors, contrasting winter and spring, with winter bleak and spring bright and vivid, and with a dark look to the confrontational scenes.”
Challenge: Escoffier was particularly interested in performing extensive color manipulation and a variety of subtle corrections to the imagery during the digital intermediate process, according to colorist Stephen Nakamura.

More Film

  • Siew Hua Yeo, Singaporean director of

    Locarno Open Doors Platform to Focus on 7 Southeast Asian Countries, Mongolia

    The Locarno Festival’s Open Doors platform dedicated to promoting cinema in areas where filmmaking is especially tough, has unveiled the 8 projects, directors, and producers from 7 countries in South-East Asia and Mongolia who will make the trek to Switzerland for networking and training opportunities. The selected projects include “The Thonglor Kids” by Thai director Aditya [...]

  • August Diehl Stars in Schreiber’s ‘Beautiful

    ‘Hidden Life’s’ August Diehl Stars in Tom Schreiber’s ‘Beautiful Souls,’ from Sutor Kolonko (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES  —  August Diehl, star of Terrence Malick’s Cannes competition player “Hidden Life,” acquired by Fox Searchlight during the festival, will head the cast of Tom Schreiber’s upcoming “Beautiful Souls” (“Schöne Seelen”). Lead produced by Ingmar Trost and Jörg Schulze’s Tutor Kolonko in Germany, and structured as a domestic co-production with Maze Pictures, “Beautiful Souls” [...]

  • 'Tommaso' Review: Willem Dafoe Plays a

    Cannes Film Review: Abel Ferrara's 'Tommaso'

    Everyone knows that Willem Dafoe is one of our greatest actors (that’s been clear ever since he played the wrenching psychodramatic Jesus of “The Passion of the Christ,” 30 years ago). But because the film industry often shoehorns him into “character” roles, he is also one of our wiliest, most resourceful actors. Dafoe never just [...]

  • Sauvages

    Claude Barras’ ‘Sauvages’ Pitches Potential Partners at Cannes Film Market

    Claude Barras, director of the breakout Academy Award nominated hit “My Life as a Zucchini,” is returning to stop motion animation for his next feature “Sauvages,” a socially conscious tale set in the jungles of Borneo. Producer Rhea Plangg attended this year’s Cannes Film Market to foster negotiations with potential production partners. “Sauvages,” a working [...]

  • Pop Up Film Residency Announces New

    Pop Up Film Residency Announces New Talents, Partners for 2019

    CANNES–The Pop Up Film Residency, a mentorship program launched this year by former TorinoFilmLab artistic director Matthieu Darras and Slovak producer Juraj Krasnohorsky, has announced three new residents, four new hosts, and two new creative partners for 2019. Based in Bratislava, the program offers a three-week residency in Slovakia each month, along with a series [...]

  • 'Super Pets' Release Date Pushed Back

    Film News Roundup: 'Super Pets' Movie Moves Back a Year, Avoiding 'John Wick 4'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Super Pets” has moved back to 2022, “Into the Ashes” gets bought and veteran executive David Gale has a new gig. RELEASE DATE Warner Bros. has pushed back the release of “DC Super Pets” back a year, avoiding opening against “John Wick 4.” The studio announced Wednesday that “Super Pets” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content