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Sunday, April 29, 2007

'...You Just Had to Run'

"Sometimes it pays to get to the set before your crew, which I try to do on almost every picture. I like to get there first. I walk around, and figure out what I'm going to do that day. I got to the set while it was still dark and then I saw, as it got lighter, where the sun was going to rise. It was going to rise on the very flat area, and I suddenly had this idea. Luckily, thank God, the camera truck had arrived and there was one assistant and he was taking boxes out of the truck. I had the driver and the assistant take an 800mm lens out and stick it up on an Arri, and we ran with five sandbags. I ran into the makeup hut and grabbed these four Japanese who spoke no English. I gave them swords and put hats over their heads, and dragged them out to the field, and basically said, 'Do what we did yesterday. Do. Rehearse.' I took a sake cup: 'And do this and bow.' I ran back to the camera, which was about an eighth of a mile away. It was awful—this was before we had little motorcycles and golf carts—you just had to run. They were having trouble getting the magazine loaded because the guy who took the camera off the truck was not a loader, so we were both together loading the camera. I had never loaded an Arri before and you have to load it properly. By this time, the sun is five feet off the ground, and we're not going to make it in time. Finally, we closed the gate. I do an eye focus, turn on the camera, and scream as loud as I can, 'DO IT LIKE YESTERDAY.' It was like kismet, like magic, just where the sun needed to be. We filled the entire frame with the 800mm long lens. We were able to get that moment."
—Steven Spielberg
describing the shooting of a scene from
Empire of the Sun

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

2 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

In some ways, the most important anecdote, which really sets up the "Empire of the Sun" anecdote is the last one about Spielberg meeting John Ford as a teenager where Ford has him look at the pictures on the wall and then says:

"Look, kid, when the day comes in your life when you can tell that a shot is great when the horizon is at the very bottom of the frame with all that sky, or the horizon is at the very top of the frame with all that ground, and when you can recognize the fact when the horizon goes directly in the center of the frame, it's a lousy painting, when you recognize that, you might have a future in the picture business."

8:50 AM  
Blogger eolake said...

I've long been rather dismissive of Spielberg, thinking him rather on the obvious side as a film maker, but this is good.

9:10 AM  

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