When I started this project one of the first quotes I read of Hall's was that, a cinematographer should not have a style, they should be able to be invisible. This was a discouraging thought at first, but it soon became clear that while this may be the case in an ideal world where the director knows exactly what they want photographically, that in reality many of the films that Hall worked on had directors who sought him out particularly because they wanted to collaborate.
so some sweet techniques and bits of knowledge that I learned from Hall last week were:
he was originally trained as a black and white filmmaker and so focused much of his attention on edge liners. Bursts of light coming from reflected surfaces that put a rim of light around a subject in order to dileniate them from the back ground. He did this even in his
While his mentors tended to promote lighting a scene from scratch, Hall preferred to use existing light and tweak it to where he saw fit: (note in this shot those bulbs in the background are deffinitely a higher wattage than normal)
Also Note in this shot the bleeding haze coming off of those lights and the desaturated colors. this is because Hall shot almost this entire movie while Push-Processing the film 3 stops! This is one of Hall's most exciting stylistic choiced that reoccurs in most of his films. Hall gives a number of explanations for this in the interviews I read and watched. One I like the most was that we all see life differently and that he kind of walks around in a haze all of the time. Thus he tried to get this Hazy distortion in his images. Also however comes in the argument of audience-subject seperation. where the audience is put in a position where they must question the film stock's accuracy and thereby placing the subjects in some sort of unreal realm. this trick allows the audience to gain emotional and as time passes cultural perspective on these films.
One of the most succesfull techniques that Hall uses in Fat City to make a sharp juxtaposition between interior and exterior shots. the Film is about a drunk amateur boxer whose life is going down the drain. Hall wanted to accentuate feeling that one gets when walking in or out of a very dark bar, in the middle of the day. he did this by overexposing the outdoor transition shots and underexposing the interior transition shots. It was this particular tactic that I focused on in my emulation below.
I could go on for a while about In Cold Blood, but some of the things that I picked up on most while watching the film and in interviews, was that Hall sought to use darkness as a Character in this film. Also that the film was shot at the actual murder scene location was pretty incredible. the shot that I attempted to emulate in this film is perhaps Halls most reviered and talked about cinematic moment. That is when Robert Blake's character is stairing out of the prison window, moments from going to the gallows and recalling a time he spent with his father in Alaska. In this moment rain falls down outside the window and the harsh lights outside project the drops of rain onto his face. Showing the inner emotions of the character while his exterior remains cold and still.
here's some of what I came up with. I still have a few images that I push-processed that I've yet to upload so stay tuned for those:
Be sure not to miss the full effect of the In Cold Blood Shot which occurs after Jing's playing, at around 1:22. I plan to reshoot Jing's shot so that she has the full effect that Eli got on her face while she is playing.