The time is now! As Pablo Picasso once said, ‘Action is the foundational key to all success.’
At a recent informal symposium – hosted by the passionate, award-winning writer-producer-director Christopher Nolan and artist Tacita Dean, and sponsored by the Getty Research Institute – the importance of taking action to preserve today’s moving images was brought to bear.
Photos: Left and right images: Filming Little Accidents. Center: Jason Berman at the Sundance Film Festival.
If ever there was proof that some individuals are natural born filmmakers, Jason Michael Berman is it. As vice president of Mandalay Pictures, the Baltimore native spends his days structuring financing for the company’s ever-growing slate of independent films. It’s a job he’s been training for since he first started playing around with a video camera as a kid. By the time he graduated from University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Cinematic Arts, Berman had established himself as a producer who is unwilling to take “no” for an answer.
Berman’s resume is impressive. In the past decade, he has amassed more than two dozen credits, including Ryan Piers Williams’ The Dry Land, Sheldon Candis’ LUV, Sara Colangelo’s Little Accidents and Andrew Renzi’s Franny. Berman spoke with us about finding his calling and the tactile beauty of film.
Scenes from Umrika. (Photos by Petra Korner)
Cinematographer Petra Korner’s latest feature, Umrika, starts out in a small mountain village in India in the mid-1970s. When Ramakant, a young boy from the village who discovers that his brother – long believed to be in America – has actually gone missing, he begins to invent letters on his behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, while setting out on a journey to find him.
The script has humorous and dramatic aspects, but Korner and director Prashant Nair agreed that it should be photographed with a classic dramatic approach.
Joe Anderson portrays Garrett Tully. (Photo by Rodney Taylor, ASC.)
When Rodney Taylor read the script for Supremacy, he saw a story that could benefit from Super 16 origination and a gritty, handheld aesthetic. The cinematographer mentioned Black Swan, The Hurt Locker and a couple of other recent Super 16 films in his first meeting with Deon Taylor, the basketball player-turned-director. He immediately liked the idea, even though the film had been budgeted for digital video.
Supremacy is the hard-hitting story of a white supremacist, recently paroled, who takes an African-American family hostage. The filmmakers found some Gordon Parks documentary photographs that had an edgy, dimly lit mood with an ominous hint of violence, and used them as a starting point for developing a look for the film.
Photo: Electric City Entertainment
When Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck – the pair that made waves with their first feature Half Nelson in 2006 – approached cinematographer Andrij Parekh with the script for Mississippi Grind, he was instantly drawn to the material. And as it was to be their fourth collaboration, the trio were on the same page when it came to the look.
“They showed me a lot of 1970s films,” says Parekh, an NYU Tisch graduate. “From that, the inspiration for Mississippi Grind was clear. They were attracted to Robert Altman films like California Split, John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, and Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. All films I love. That’s the style and feeling we tried to give to this film – long, slow zooms mixed with handheld.”