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Janusz Kaminski


Key credits: “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “AI: Artificial Intelligence”

Awards: Oscar, BAFTA, BSC, LAFCA, NFSC, NYFCC kudos for “Schindler”; Oscar, LAFCA laurels for “Private Ryan”

Connection: “Everyone knows Steven Spielberg and I have been working with each other for the last 12 years (“Munich” is their 10th collaboration). The beauty of our relationship comes from the fact that he trusts me and I trust him. We both fulfill our expectations, and we understand the story we are making in the same way.”

Equipment: “I think there is more to cinematography than talking about cameras and film stock. It’s like talking to a costume designer about what kind of sewing machine they use. The sewing machine was Arriflex. And the film was Fuji and Kodak.”

Challenge: “It is a story that needs to feel relevant, but it is also a story that we want to engage people. For me the biggest challenge was to make the audience feel like they were watching a story that was suspenseful, but also a story that is based in the reality of the 1970s. It’s not a pretty movie. It’s a little bit grainy and muted. It’s also very colorful, but the color is kind of ugly. It keeps you on the edge of your seat to some degree. You don’t feel comfortable with the colors.

Creative mantra: “It has to feel real to me… The biggest challenge to any cinematographer is to tell a story that reflects the written material and to have the ability to fully understand what the story is about and then find the cinematic style and the individual storytelling that the cinematographer brings into the process. The trick is to fully immerse yourself and be able to enrich the story through nonverbal language, which is what cinematography is. Occasionally you see a movie that is completely inappropriate visually, where somehow you feel you are looking at romance, but there is no romance onscreen. Or you feel that you are looking at a movie about beauty and there is no beauty in the photography… Frequently as a cinematographer you end up restraining yourself.”

Upcoming: “I have no idea what I want to do, to be honest. It’s exciting because I think I might direct a movie in Europe. We’ll see how it goes.”

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