Filmmakers object to using cheaper tools

Creative community prefer to use own equipment

FRANKFURT, Germany — Filmmakers want to use their own tools — and resent having to take the cheap way out. That was the message from cinematographers, editors, visual effects artists and animators gathered here for the 12th annual eDIT Filmmakers Festival.

Veteran cinematographer Ricardo Aronovich, on hand to accept the Imago European Federation of Cinematographers Tribute Award, said that many producers are requiring cinematographers to use digital cameras.

“In my particular case, a year ago it was the Red imposed upon me,” he said. “Cinematographers should be allowed to choose the camera that they use.”

While producers are looking to cut costs, Aronovich rejected the argument that digital is less costly. “What you don’t spend on film stock, you will spend on postproduction,” he said.

In editing circles, a similar discussion surrounded Avid’s Media Composer and Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

“Because of cost, some production companies are forcing editors to cut on Final Cut,” American Cinema Editors president Randy Roberts said. “Editors are storytellers. It is not the system that makes the editor, it is the editor that makes a movie. The software that works the best for you is the one you are going to want to choose.”

The Filmmakers Festival, which wrapped Tuesday, is presented by the state of Hesse with partners ACE and Imago. Hesse offers an annual film fund of €10 million to attract production.

During the awards gala, Hesse’s Minister President Roland Koch presented the fest’s top award, Festival Honors, to editor Chris Lebenzon, an Oscar nominee for Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” and “Crimson Tide.”“Directors need their editors to be not only talented at their craft, but to be able to be the sounding board for the director’s vision. This is a very special relationship. Once it has been established, directors often find their comfort zone working with the same editors as much as they can,” Roberts said during the presentation.
Lebenzon has longtime collaborators in Scott, Tim Burton — he has worked with both for more than 30 years — and Jerry Bruckheimer. He is working on Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” for Disney.

During the gala, eDIT also recognized Special Achievement Award winner Christoph Waltz for his role in “Inglourious Basterds.” The actor, having recently won the role of the villain in “The Green Hornet,” accepted via a prerecorded message.

A Festival Honors Tribute was presented to the late Albert Broccoli, creator of the James Bond franchise.

The British Society of Cinematographers presented its recently completed Camera Evaluation Series, which examined 18 film and digital cameras. BSC president Sue Gibson reported that the organization plans to make the series available on Blu-ray Disc in order to help filmmakers research available tools.

During a look at Disney/Pixar’s “Up,” editor Kevin Nolting explained that the team was focused primarily on the story, with storyboarding, rewriting and editing under way two years before production began. “We put all of our effort into developing story, and then the last year and half on production,” he noted. “It is gratifying as an editor, because we are so involved in story.”

Visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett discussed the approach of his latest film, “Star Trek,” saying director “J.J. Abrams wanted to follow the model of going to a real place.” This included shooting at breweries and power stations and augmenting the live action with visual effects. “It helped J.J. so that he and the actors could react to the physicality of a real environment,” Guyett said.

“We seem to be expanding our reach,” fest co-director Tom Atkin reported. Attendees included reps from cinematographers associations in Britain, France, Belgium and Norway.