Here’s a video of a great interview with legendary cinematographer Robby Müller (whose longtime associates include Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Lars von Trier) for the Criterion release of ‘Down by Law.’ “Müller says that Jarmusch’s only directions to him were that ‘it’s just like a fairy tale.’ He gets into a lot of meaty technical details regarding his choices in cameras, lenses, lighting, film stock, etc. A real treat for technophiles.” Photo courtesy of A Certain Cinema. [thanks to Max Brod for the link]
“I loved Robby Müller’s work and I asked Wim Wenders in 1980 how I might meet him. I was going to the Rotterdam Film Festival to show my first film, Permanent Vacation, and at that time in Rotterdam the people who visited the festival stayed on a boat that was harboured there, it had a bar in it, and Wim said, ‘Just go on the boat and in the bar next to the peanut machine, Robby Müller will be sitting there.’ So I went to Rotterdam, I went on the boat, I went in the bar, and next to the peanut machine Robby Müller was sitting there. (Laughter) Seriously. So I sat down next to him and started talking to him. And we hung out quite a bit at the festival and he saw my first film, and he said to me eventually, ‘If you ever want to work together man, let me know.’ That was a big thing for me. I made my next film Stranger Than Paradise with my friend Tom DiCillo, because Tom was working then as a director of photography, but he really wasn’t interested in shooting films, so when I wrote Down By Law, I immediately called Robby Müller.”
“The beautiful thing about Robby is that he starts the process by talking to you about what the film means, what the story is about, what the characters are about. He starts from the inside out, which is really, really such a great way. I’ve learned that you find the look of the film later after you’ve found the essence of the film, what its atmosphere is, what it’s about and then you look at locations together, you start talking about light and colour, about what film material to use and the general look of the film, and we’ve worked together a lot now, so we don’t have to discuss as many things as other people might because we understand each other. He considers himself to be an artisan in a way. I remember, especially in Dead Man, the crew and I were joking a lot by saying, ‘He’s Robby Müller, but don’t tell him that!’ He considers he has a lens, he has film material and he has light. Sometimes crew members would mention some modern piece of equipment, ‘We could do that shot with a lumacrane,’ and Robbie would say, ‘What is a lumacrane?’ I think he’s like a Dutch interior painter, like Vermeer or de Hoeck, who was born in the wrong century.” —Jim Jarmusch
- Robby Müller interviewed by Lindsay Amos
- Interview Robby Müller (2007)
- Shooting for drama with Robby Muller and Peter James
- ‘Down by Law’: Chemistry Set
- ‘Down by Law’ Polaroids
- Three Reasons: ‘Down by Law’
- Robby Müller shooting ‘Paris, Texas’
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This inspired Sean Bobbitt while he was shooting 12 Years A Slave.
The Maysles brothers were huge proponents of Cinéma vérité documentary filmmaking. Some of their most critically acclaimed documentaries are Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens. As a piece of trivia, in preparation for last year’s film Killing Them Softly, Andrew Dominik would watch Salesman. Below you will hear both Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin — close collaborator on other documentaries and editor — talk about one of such cinema verite offerings, and dissect the specifics of shooting and editing such a piece. —filmschoolthrucommentaries
Recommended reading, viewing, and listening:
- A Pinewood Dialogue With Albert Maysles [listen, mp3, pdf]
- The Art of Documentary: Albert Maysles
- Anatomy of the Filmmaker: The Maysles
- Meet Marlon Brando directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin
- Media Hijacker and Serial Flirter
Remember that Leica M designed by Apple’s Jony Ive that was to be auctioned off for charity?
Initial estimates said it would fetch around $500,000, but the one of a kind camera ended up bringing in $1.8 million to fight AIDS in Africa.