In a film like Alejandro G Iñárritu’s multiple award-winning Birdman (2014), which was shot in a single long take, style was probably more important than substance, American cinematographer Gill Bateman told the audience at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) on Tuesday. Bateman, who is visiting India on a Fulbright fellowship, said, “It’s my personal opinion that when you make a choice like Iñárritu did in Birdman, you are actually shooting yourself in the foot… because it’s going to limit your choices and affect the substance of the film. By making such choices, a director is kind of saying, ‘I am the director. You see me directing the film.’ He is not humbled by the story…”.
In cinema, too, said Bateman, “a virtue stretched to an extreme point becomes a vice”. He was speaking at a session on ‘Movement in Cinema’ at the PIFF Forum, where he discussed how camera movements have developed over the years and how they had affected the language of cinema.
Bateman also mentioned the changing style of cinematography over the years, explaining it with the help of Woody Allen’s films Sleeper (1973) and Celebrity (1998). Contemporary film directors and cinematographers chose to make camera movements visible, as opposed to the traditional method of trying to make sure that the camera movement went unnoticed, he said. “Earlier, the movement of camera was an exception. Now, it has become the norm… static shots have become exceptions,” said Bateman.
Earlier in the day, representatives of films from all over the world — including Finnish film Euthanizer and Portugese drama The Nothing Factory — interacted with the audience at the PIFF Forum. Teams that have worked on Marathi films like Video Parlour, Palashichi P T and Mhorkya also discussed their cinematic journey.