The interesting thing for me in filmmaking now is seeing what you can do without,” says Andrij Parekh, the 35-year-old cinematographer of Indian and Ukrainian descent (he shoots frequently in Kiev), “limiting your choices and working within the confines of what you have available to you.
“In a way, even though you’re kind of trapped technically, you’re freed of choices that are not important. It just brings it down to raw filmmaking.”
In shooting “Half Nelson,” about a troubled high school teacher (Ryan Gosling) who leads a double life, it was about lighting the room. “We would take two or three hours at the beginning of the day to light a space, and once it was lit we would just shoot. When you’re done, you’re just worried about the frame. It’s not about simplifying things, it’s about seeing more clearly without having your mind cluttered by, ‘Is the actor being hit properly by the light?’
“Another d.p. might have taken the material in a different direction,” he says, “but somehow it feels organic to itself.”
Parekh’s reputation precedes him. Anyone who was at NYU’s graduate film school during the time Parekh was there probably saw a film lensed by him. And his personality is such that Anna Boden, “Half Nelson’s” editor/producer/co-writer, says Parekh was like another character in the low-budget urban drama.
In addition to NYU, Parekh studied at FAMU, the celebrated Prague film school, where he “learned about a sense of humor in film” and where professor Jaromir Sofr (“Closely Watched Trains”) taught him the value of going to museums for inspiration.
“FAMU also taught me about precision,” he says. “They would give us 400 feet to make a two-minute or three-minute film. Every frame had to count. You learn something about conservation and respect for the medium.”
Self-respect, too. “We have this joke,” says “Half Nelson” director Ryan Fleck. “There’s this one flat, ugly shot in the movie. I really liked it and he didn’t want to do it. Anna noticed it, too. She said, ‘Andrij, this is the only ugly shot in the movie,’ and every time it comes on now, he says, ‘That’s Ryan’s! That’s Ryan’s!!’ ”
Favorite tool: “The Metropolitan Museum of Art. That’s where all my pre-production begins. It helps me quickly determine the director’s sense of color, contrast, taste, palette. You can talk about it for hours. But when you’re sitting in front of a painting, it’s very immediate.”
Film stock and housing: Kodak 29; Arri SR3
Inspirations: “Other cinematographers.”
What’s next: Tim Robbins vehicle “Noise” for director Henry Bean
Rep: the Skouras Agency