Mentoring emerging cinematographers has always been a key mission at the EnergaCamerimage International Film Festival and this year’s online version of the event features a score of streaming master classes and seminars that inform and offer insights from top filmmakers and technology experts.
Streaming through the end of 2020 (online.energacamerimage.pl), the talks and teach-ins are, with rare exceptions, accessible without a password or online Camerimage entry card – unlike the usual live format of master classes at the festival, which invariably sell out if you don’t find a seat at least 20 minutes before the start.
One of the buzziest events from the festival, which officially ran Nov. 13-20, is the virtual career masterclass with cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, in which he discusses his remarkable career, leading up to his latest feature, Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
The Netflix drama is built around the sensational political trial that followed the violent street clashes surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Papamicheal filmed with spare, atmospheric lensing in the courthouse scenes.
He also recreated the chaos and color of the streets outside, as the Oscar-nominated DP recounts, putting into context the 46 feature films to his credit (“Nebraska” for Alexander Payne and “Ford v Ferrari” for James Mangold among them).
Conversation with Philippe Rousselot, meanwhile, is a free-wheeling video chat featured as this year’s AFC (French Society of Cinematographers) seminar, in the company of acclaimed DPs Caroline Champetier, Jean-Marie Dreujou and Denis Lenoir. Rousselot, the recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award, discusses with his colleagues six films that inspired them: Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Diva” (1981), John Boorman’s “The Emerald Forest” (1985), Alain Cavalier’s “Therese” (1986), Boorman’s “Hope and Glory” (1987), Stephen Frears’ “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988), and Patrice Chéreau’s “Queen Margot” (1994).
The discussion covers Rousselot’s art and craft and his relationships with directors and actors, followed by questions from the audience who attended the initial live stream.
Another talk, ASC: Future Practices, is led by last year’s Golden Frog winner, Lawrence Sher (“Joker”), covering how top-level cinematographers work while balancing COVID-19 safety precautions with artistic demands.
The affable Sher shares stories with colleagues on the impact of the pandemic on the craft of cinematography alongside larger questions on filmmaking, conveying the findings of the new American Society of Cinematographers Future Practices committee.
Subjects range from the quarantine experience, remote shoot preparation, virtual scouting to the latest in remote technologies.
One top-attendance talk – this one requiring a fest digital entry card – features DP Martin Ruhe and George Clooney recounting their experiences shooting “The Midnight Sky,” the climate crisis-inspired sci-fi actioner streaming on Netflix. Directed by Clooney while he performed a physically demanding role as a scientist on a desperate quest, the film involved daunting challenges for Ruhe in creating the visuals for a post-apocalyptic tale set in the Arctic.
Other online classes and talks cover a gamut of issues and include:
Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt discussing his work on David Fincher’s “Mank”; cinematographer Benjamin Loeb and director Kornél Mundruczó chatting about their collaboration on “Pieces of a Woman”; cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel and director Spike Lee talking about their work on “Da 5 Bloods”; and cinematographer Tobias Schliessler discussing his work on George C. Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
The American Film Institute Conservatory’s Stephen Lighthill seminar covers the school’s approach to filmmaking education; One More Orbit, details how a worldwide crew captured the Guinness world record for fastest aerial polar circumnavigation via the North and South poles; a seminar on the reconstruction in “Hopper/Welles” of an intimate and revelatory filmed 1970 conversation between Dennis Hopper and Orson Welles; and Oscar-winner Vittorio Storaro on creative innovations with directors including Bernardo Bertolucci (“The Conformist”), Francis Ford Coppola (“One from the Heart”) and Warren Beatty (“Reds”) among others.
Technology seminars also offer rich pickings, with several run by lens company Zeiss, include Glen MacPherson on shooting “Monster Hunter” while the Arri Academy features Roger Deakins and James Deakins sharing their experiences in gathering filmmaking and photography greats for their buzz-worthy podcast Team Deakins.
Arri’s The Martini series of talks complements with hour-long chats with notable cinematographers such Rachel Morrison discussing her work on “Cake,” “Mudbound” and “Black Panther”; Robert Yeoman on his work with Wes Anderson; and Reed Morano talking about her film career as a cinematographer and making the leap to directing.