When I hear the term “independent filmmaker,” I immediately think of John Cassavetes. He was the most independent of them all. For me, he was and still is a guide and teacher. Without his support and advice, I don’t know what would have become of me as a filmmaker. The question, ‘What is an independent filmmaker?’ has nothing to do with being inside or outside of the industry or whether you live in New York or Los Angeles. It’s about determination and strength, having the passion to say something that’s so strong that no one or nothing can stop you. Whenever I meet a young director who is looking for guidance and advice, I tell him or her to look to the example of John Cassavetes, a source of the greatest strength. John made it possible for me to think that you could actually make a movie—which is crazy, because it’s an enormous endeavor, and you only realize how enormous when you’re doing it. But by then it’s too late.
Nothing could have stopped Cassavetes except God, and He eventually did. John died much too soon, but his films and his example are still very much alive. He once said, “You can’t be afraid of anyone or anything if you want to make a movie.” It’s that simple. You have to be as tough as he was. He was a force of nature. — Martin Scorsese
“The camera I was using in the beginning, a rudimentary affair in which the film would tear or would often refuse to move, produced an unexpected effect one day when I was photographing very prosaically the Place de l’Opera. It took a minute to release the film and get the camera going again. During this minute the people, buses vehicles had of course moved. Projecting the film, having joined the break, I suddenly saw a Madeleine-Bastille omnibus change into a hearse and men into women. The trick of substitution, called the trick of stop-action was discovered…”
Vittorio Storaro recalls the photographic challenges he confronted during the tumultuous production of Francis Ford Coppola’s hallucinatory Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now. Interview by Stephen Burum, ASC and Stephen Pizzello [pdf].
A cinematographer has to design and write a story, starting at the beginning, through the evolution to the end. That’s why I consider my profession is as a writer of light. —Vittorio Storaro
In 1930, Charlie Chaplin and Sergei Eisenstein got together to “play” tennis, literally. Eisenstein spent considerable time with Charlie Chaplin, who recommended that Eisenstein meet with a sympathetic benefactor in the person of American socialist author Upton Sinclair, who would later arrange for Eisenstein to go to Mexico.