You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ed Lachman on Hollywood’s Need for Coverage, European Filmmaking and Finding Inspiration

TORUN, Poland – Acclaimed cinematographer Ed Lachman regaled an enraptured audience at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival on Monday with anecdotes of his early days, his take on European and Hollywood cinema, and finding inspiration in younger collaborators.

Lachman, who has worked with some of the most prominent German New Wave directors, including Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, said he “was very lucky” to have worked with Robby Müller, describing his work with the late Dutch cinematographer as “probably the best film school I ever had.”

Lachman worked with Müller on Wenders’ “The American Friend” and on Peter Bogdanovich’s “They All Laughed.” The DoP most recently lensed Todd Haynes’ environmental drama “Dark Waters,” starring Mark Ruffalo, which hits U.S. theaters Nov. 22.

On the difference between the U.S. and European style of filmmaking, Lachman said the size of the production was one major distinction.

“I always felt like Hollywood shoots for the editing room. They want to know they have coverage, that the producer can go in or the studio can go in and make choices after you’ve shot the film, whereas in Europe, directors create their own visual language. If you’re Werner Herzog, you shoot differently than Wim Wenders or Fassbinder.

“There was, I felt, one, more respect for the cinematographer, that they were seen as equal partners, and two, that they found their own language. In other words, it wasn’t just about coverage. … Now, that’s changed. There are people in America that do that too, but they’re few and far between. If you shoot a Hollywood film you’re expected to have a certain amount of coverage.”

Discussing the changes brought on by digital technology, Lachman said cinematographers had lost some of the control they once enjoyed due to the tools now available to directors.

“There was a certain area that we controlled or had more say in.” Now, it’s easier to “see things on the set or perceive that we see things on the set, so choices can be made, and that can affect the shot.”

The connection between cinematographer and director nevertheless remains vital for a successful collaboration, he added.

“Not all directors are visual, so you have to work with each director in a different way. Probably you’re best off working with the directors that are most visual because even if you don’t agree with them, at least there’s a point of discussion about something. If you just try to do it on your own, a lot of times your ideas and images that you’re trying to execute will never be realized in the editing room. The rhythm of how you shoot the film is so integral to the approach, the style of how you’re shooting the film, that that has to be a common ground to work with, with the director.”

He continued: “When I was younger I would always figure out how something could be done and that was the way I had to do it and I would fight for that. Now as I get older, I find out there’s more than one way to do it and in some ways I welcome if they want to do something totally different because it forces me into a solution that I wouldn’t normally put myself. Probably the best directors you work with are always pushing you into solutions that you wouldn’t normally put yourself in.”

Collaboration, particularly with younger colleagues, and attending festivals like Camerimage remain important not only to Lachman’s own career, but also to his continued appreciation of cinema.

“Working with younger people I learn things that I wouldn’t normally be around. That’s been why I’ve continued to work with younger people, and also their interests. Even why I come to Camerimage with a film or without a film is because the inspiration you have gives me inspiration, or reminds me why I was interested in film in the first place. When you just work in the industry as a business you can forget that because there are so many other things you have to deal with. This is more of a pure form here.”

More Film

  • 'Wonder Woman 1984' Trailer: Gal Gadot

    'Wonder Woman 1984' Trailer: Gal Gadot Returns With Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig

    “Wonder Woman 1984” dropped its first trailer on Sunday, with Gal Gadot returning as the titular Amazonian goddess. The film is set, of course, in the 1980s in America, decades after the first film’s events. Kristen Wiig is playing Wonder Woman’s infamous comic-book nemesis Cheetah, while Chris Pine is returning for the sequel. It’s unclear, [...]

  • Over the Sea

    Macao Film Review: 'Over the Sea'

    The beginning is a fairy tale, or a nursery rhyme. A woman nurses her squalling baby in a house by an orchard near the sea. Sunlight slants in through the open windows, the mother hums a lullaby, and then brings her son outside and places him in a cot suspended from the apple-laden branches of [...]

  • CCA Film Nominations

    Critics' Choice: 'The Irishman,' 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Lead Movie Nominations

    “The Irishman” has picked up the most film nominations for the 35th annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The Martin Scorsese gangster drama goes into the awards show with 14 noms, including best picture, director, acting ensemble as well as best actor (Robert De Niro) and supporting actor (Al Pacino and Joe Pesci), the Critics’ Choice Association [...]

  • Parasite

    LA Film Critics Announce 2019 Winners

    Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. met today to vote on the year’s best cinema accomplishments. Recent winners of the group’s top prize include “Roma,” “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Boyhood,” “Her”/”Gravity” and “Amour.” List of winners below. Best Editing: Todd Douglas Miller, “Apollo 11” (Runner-up: Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie, [...]

  • Jumanji The Next Level

    Box Office: 'Jumanji 2' Kicks Off Overseas With $52 Million as 'Frozen 2' Powers Toward $1 Billion

    Disney’s “Frozen 2” skated past international box office competition again as the animated sequel propels toward the billion-dollar mark globally. “Frozen 2” generated another $90 million from 48 foreign territories, boosting its worldwide weekend haul to $124.9 million. After three weekends in theaters, Disney’s musical follow-up has made $919.7 million and should cross $1 billion [...]

  • Lily James

    Lily James Delivers Masterclass in Charm in Macao

    British actor, Lily James delivered a masterclass in charm and good humor at a seminar on Sunday at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao. Questioned on stage by one of the festival’s senior programmers, James brightly chatted her way through eight years of a screen career that has taken her from “Downton Abbey” to [...]

  • Avengers Endgame Lion King Frozen 2

    Disney Crushes Own Global Box Office Record With Historic $10 Billion

    Thanks to a record number of billion-dollar blockbusters, Disney has become the first studio in history to surpass $10 billion at the worldwide box office. Through Sunday, the studio has generated $3.28 billion in North America and $6.7 billion overseas for a global haul of $9.997 billion and is expected to officially cross the benchmark [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content