I posted an interview I did 7 years ago with the late, great cinematographer Harris Savides about the filmmaking process with director Gus van Sant for their masterful Death Trilogy: Gerry, Elephant, Last Days. The post is on my blog on theasc.com.
Here’s an excerpt:
BB: And for you as a cinematographer, does freedom mean that you’re going to try a bunch of different things when you get to the set?
HS: No, we make rules. The rules are a simple mandate. Very simple. Like very little dialogue, try to shoot as long a take as possible, put the camera at this height (gesturing at the table).
It’s very interesting, because a lot of decisions are taken out of the mix. It imposes an integrity on everything. But also it imposes a speed, and a decision-making that’s pure, that’s only about a few things.
BB: I love what you’re saying, that if you want freedom, you need constraints.
HS: Oh yeah. I think that’s the essence of freedom. You can’t be free and be a wild filmmaker. You really have to have rules, and a discipline of sorts, that, of course, conspire to make the film that you’ve set out to make.