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QUICK TAKE
Highlights: “Clean,” “Un femme de menage,” “Breve traversee,” “Intimacy”
Laurels: Technical Grand Prize at Cannes for “Clean,” “Motorcycle Diaries”; Cesar Award for “Ceux qui m’aiment prendront le train” (1998)
Dream collaborators: James Gray, Todd Haynes
Tool kit: On “Diaries,” Gautier used an Aaton 35-III and XTR; and Kodak 5246,5279,7246,7279 film.

“The Motorcycle Diaries’ ” cinematographer Eric Gautier says that “to make a film is to live an adventure.” So it was fitting that the film was based on a real-life road trip.

The tale, taken from the journals of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granado, recounts the pair’s trip across South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s.

“The frequent and different locations really forced us to find technical solutions that would fulfill (the director’s) creative needs,” says Gautier. “It was difficult because we didn’t have the luxury of being able to do tests, so we had to discover a lot during shooting.”

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By using a mix of 35mm and Super 16mm cameras, Gautier was able to capture the true grittiness of the road-trip experience and translate that to the screen.

The film was shot in chronological order, which Gautier says was in keeping with the quasi-documentary style and “its feel of urgency,” and forced the crew to think on the fly. Gautier also used various exposures and natural light setting to achieve the desired look.

“Day after day we were fed creatively by the collective experience to discover how to get exactly the right shot or angle,” says Gautier, who noted that the month the crew spent in the Amazon was particularly tough.

Gautier is currently in post-production on a film by Claude Berri. His latest effort, helmer Arnaud Desplechin’s “Rois et Reine” (Kings and Queen), was shown at the New York Film Festival in September and will be screened at Cannes this spring. It is set for a Stateside release in March.

Gautier believes that the most important attribute a cinematographer can have is “curiosity about the project, how it can be shot, and what other people are thinking.

“You must also be inventive,” he says. “You do not need to know how to do everything. But you do need to know what your tools are and how they can best be used.”