Sean Bobbitt (left) with director Steve McQueen/12 Years a Slave
Cinematographers; most of us don't know quite what they do. And that includes not only me but dictionaries where definitions range from "A movie photographer, especially one who is in charge of shooting a movie." (The Free Dictionary) Er, that's very close to the definition of a director, isn't it? to "one who is in charge of cinematography" (Merriam-Webster). Thanks, MW, that's so helpful.
Barry Ackroyd with director, Paul Greengrass/Captain Phillips
So what then, is cinematography? According to HowStuffWorks ...
"cinematography means bringing a story to life visually. The word's Greek roots are kinema (movement) and graph (writing). Bringing movement to screenwriter's script requires more than simply shooting photos or video of a scene. The primary cinematographer, or director of photography, works with the film's director to capture the underlying story in a way that will captivate the movie audience. Camera operators and cinematographers for specific scenes or types of scenes work to fulfill the overall vision."
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh, Director Ben Stiller
Cinematography by Phedon Papamichael, Director Alexander Payne
Inside Llewyn Davis
Bruno Delbonnel with Oscar Isaacs and Director Joel Coen
So here are the boys talking about film vs digital, working with actors and directors and what they think of 3D;Barry Ackroyd ("Captain Phillips"), Sean Bobbitt ("12 Years a Slave"), Bruno Delbonnel ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Stuart Dryburgh ("The Secret Life of Walter Mitty") and Phedon Papamichael ("Nebraska"and Monuments Men) It's ironic that the role of the cinematographer is becoming more widely known and celebrated just when cinematographers - especially the
older guys more seasoned pros - are wondering what the future of film will be.