Cinematography for Directors with Jacqueline B. Frost
Cinematographers are really the directors of images while directors are the authors of the performances. Evidently, the collaboration between these two important persons on set with a shared vision and respect influences the work environment and (the ultimate result) the film, a great deal.
We’re inspired this week by cinematographer, and author, Jacqueline B. Frost’s book, Cinematography For Directors: A Guide For Creative Collaboration.
She compiled her 30+ expertise in cinematography and production into this book. Its 2nd edition was published in March 2020. The book is a handbook for directors and aspiring filmmakers who want to get the best visuals for their films while establishing a collaborative relationship with their cinematographer. Through interviews with current ASC cinematographers, and a balance between technical, aesthetic, and historical context, this book guides the director into a powerful collaboration with their closest on-set ally. Topics include selecting a cinematographer, collectively discussing the script, choosing an appropriate visual style for a film, color palette, film, and digital formats, lenses, camera movement, genres, and postproduction processes―including the digital intermediate (DI). Interwoven are quotes from working ASC cinematographers.
From my own experience directing and working cinematography a few times, it is no secret that the relationship between a director and his cinematographer must be intuitive and non-contradicting. A quick sit down to break down the script, vision and general approach makes the work way easier for every party.
Frost’s background in fine arts, photography, and cinematography— merged, has made it easier for her to spot the crevices in approaches or the lack thereof pertaining to DP, and head of images that have been the detriment of many projects.
Cinematography for her is a long-time love of the image and the endless learning process that was ignited when she pursued her graduate degree. To date, she’s taught cinematography, film, and documentary production at UCLA and through shorter courses and produced over 20 feature films and documentaries.
We cover several themes from Frost’s book including what directors need to know about aesthetics of lenses, focal length, and its depth of field.
Our conversation was definitely like a mini masterclass on cinematography and Jacqueline was a goldmine of knowledge.
Enjoy my conversation with Jacqueline B. Frost.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
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- Cinematography For Directors: A Guide For Creative Collaboration – Amazon
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Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'd like to welcome to the show Jackie Frost. How are you doing, Jackie?
Jacqueline B. Frost 0:18
I'm good. How are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:19
I'm very good. Thank you so much for being on the show. We're going to talk about today, I wanted to have you on the show because of your book cinematography, for directors and I, as I was saying to you, before we started recording, I've been as a cinematographer, which I do not consider myself a cinematographer, but I have a little feature film. So arguably, I've you know, not well, but apparently made, made it, I sold it. So apparently I did something, okay. Yeah, there was an image, it looked clean, all that kind of good stuff. And I've been a director for most of my career. So I've worked with good cinematographers, or with bad cinematographers. And I really think that a lot of especially young up and coming directors, don't understand the relationship don't understand the, the nuance of that religious, how important it is, how to collaborate, all these kind of things. But we're going to get into the weeds about all of this. But before we get started, how did you get started in the business?
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:13
Um, well, it goes back quite a ways right now. But I mean, when I was an undergrad studying, photography, Fine Arts, I was really into, you know, art history, I was into photography. And then I took a film history course. And that just opened up a whole nother chapter of my life. My professor actually said, You are really good at this. And you have a knack for it as Okay, so I pursued studies in film production after that. And because I already had a background in photography, when I did get to grad school, I could shoot better than most of the people there. So suddenly, I'm shooting like everybody's film. So I realized I really liked the creation of the image, um, cut back CUT TO 30 years later, I still love the creation of the image, I realized that cinematography is an endless learning process is because I, of course, learned in 16 millimeter film of black and white reversal. Then I went to color reversal, I was so excited, I finally got to color negative, I thought I'd hit the big time, you know, going from 16, to Super 16 to 35 was like, wow, you know, but then everything changed, of course. So I've also been an educator in the field of cinematography, and film production and documentary production, and you name it as some studies courses as well, for a good portion of my career. So I shoot I teach. And basically, my background from the fine arts and photography, and cinematography, all merged into something that was highly relatable to many other cinematographers. And something that it seemed filled a void between the director and the cinematographer. So that in a nutshell, that's 30 years or so.
Alex Ferrari 2:58
So, in a nutshell, I gotcha. So yeah, that's and again, that relationship is so so so so important. Especially when you're when you're because like I said, I've worked with good, good DPS. I've worked with horrible DPS. Isn't it true, though? Isn't it true that all you need to be to be a dp is you just need to buy a camera, right? That's just the way it works. Right? If you buy a red camera, you're automatically cinematographer? Isn't that the way it works?
Jacqueline B. Frost 3:22
Oh, yeah, sure.
Alex Ferrari 3:26
No, that was my, that was my biggest frustration coming up. Because you know, you would, when I didn't know any better, you'd hire people because of their gear. And not because of their talent. And that is one of the biggest mistakes as a director, well, they have a grip truck, and they've got to read or they got an Alexa, they must know what they're doing. No. What's your experience,
Jacqueline B. Frost 3:47
Not thoroughly the case. And you know, obviously, not all cinematographers. And I learned this a long way to own their own gear, because, you know, it's what they do with the gear, not having the stuff. Well, I got a whole bunch of stuff. I don't know how to use it. You know, it's not like that. It's like, what do I do with this? Okay, you can give me any camera. Just give me a little manual. I'll figure it out. Okay. It's about what you do with that camera. You know, so
Alex Ferrari 4:15
yeah, no, there's no question. And I think that in the in the olden days, back in the day when I was coming up in the 90s 80s, early 2000s, even you could buy a film camera, and that film camera will hold you for a decade. comfortably like you. You had an S r three. Yes, if you had an S or three s or two. As our three just had a couple of bells and whistles, that's all it was. Is it for everyone listening that's a an airy six Super 16 millimeter camera. That's the one I that did my film project in college with. I got the SRP, by the way never saw an sRGB again, in the field was only a start because it was expensive to have another three, but you could own that camera and it would hold nowadays. Every week there's a new camera every week there's a new K, there's new technology constantly constantly coming out. So it doesn't make sense for some photographers to own their own gear unless they can, they can turn it over pretty quickly or it's a per project like this project gonna pay for this camera, something along those lines,
Jacqueline B. Frost 5:17
or they rent out there gear as a side gig. But I mean for independent filmmakers or students coming out of film school or whatever. I mean, there's so many really good prosumer cameras now that can make nice films with and you know, way that we never there you go.
Alex Ferrari 5:34
See I'm holding up my iPhone 12 Max, whatever, I just, I did exactly. This, this blend these lenses. I mean, look, it's not professional, but even if you had some adapt, if you could just adapt it a little bit, put an adapter on it. I mean, Steven Soderbergh doing some insane stuff with the iPhone. I mean, it's pretty remarkable. Again, it's not about the gear, it's about the person behind the lens.
Jacqueline B. Frost 5:55
Yes, yes. And in No, during the COVID times that we've teaching, cinematography and stuff. I was doing it online, but they were still doing projects, and we'd meet and screen them. But, you know, sometimes they were like, Can I use my phone? I'm like, Well, okay, let's see how it goes. You know, some had DSLRs. And they could work with that, you know, the differences, though, you don't really have the lens variants that you have a real camera, you know, which make a difference. And you can buy, you know, a variety of 5000 $10,000 prosumer gear, that's pretty awesome.
Alex Ferrari 6:30
And even, I mean, you could buy a Blackmagic 6k for 20 $500. Get yourself a nice sigma lens and 18 to 35 photo lens. I shot a feature, I've shot two features with that lens. Yeah, it's fine. It's prosumer it's definitely not, you know, the high end glass of cinematography, you know, you know, like, I've shot with Zeiss. I've shot with cooks and things. And you feel the difference when you have like an engine. You
Jacqueline B. Frost 6:56
know, the difference when you start, I recently did a workshop for an MFA cinematography thesis project. And it was we had cook lenses on through and we had an the cook guy came in to do the demo. I was like, Oh my God. I mean, it's just like Richard kura said to me many years ago, he goes, You shoot anamorphic the camera could fall off the truck, and you got a beautiful image. So that's so true. Because I could see it. I can see it in the macro. The glass, the macro was unbelievable. I could see it in the anamorphic widescreen it was just so beautiful. Even on the Zeiss is a beautiful two. Oh, no. Camera, it's about the lens.
Alex Ferrari 7:32
Yeah, and that's the thing. If you are if you're a director or cinematographer listening, the only thing you should invest in is class because class doesn't go away. I mean, as long as it's a night, you know, glasses, glass, the gear the camera is going to change is changing as we speak. And all of that stuff, but the glasses where the investment lies because I love vintage. I love vintage glass. I'd love old glasses that cuts down the it cuts down the sharpness of like a red. You know, you get a nice 5060 year old piece of glass. What was the not the the one the Oh God, the one that Oh, the I can't remember better French glass set. And then there was an ASC cinematographer who pulled it out of obscurity shot him about but I can't remember that boo, belay boo, boo boo, something it bolts bolts. Well, it's ours. Yes, the bolts are set. Yes, the bolt the super bolts, the Super Bowl tires. I've shot with Super Bowl tires. Oh, stonor red, stunning. And they're old, old glass. But anyway, we can start geeking out we got to stop this. Let's actually talk about what what? Because this is what happens when I start talking lenses. I start geeking out a bit. But for the director and the cinematographer, how do you how would you recommend that collaboration? begin? How How should a draw an ideal scenario between a director and cinematographer?
Jacqueline B. Frost 8:52
Well, there's a lot of different ways that people come together but from the 30. So interviews I've conducted over the years, the consistent theme seems to be you need to have somebody that you intuitively connect with somebody who you feel comfortable with somebody who you trust understands your vision. You may have similar tastes, you may have a similar background. I'll use an example of Matthew leba, teak. And he talked about working with Darren Aronofsky. And he said, We come from the same place. We like the same music. We like the sameness and so we could work together instantly. That's a shortcut that really makes a big difference. And when you really trust your dp, you like your dp, they're the person that you know, you lean on when you start to flake out as a director and you're like all over the place. Wait a minute, look, your dp and they'll be like, remember we talked about? Oh, yeah, you know, so it's somebody who shares your vision and doesn't contradict you, especially if so, the first comes with an intuitive meaning. It comes also for looking at each other's work and respecting each other again, Using MADI as a reference, he admires and respects the directors he's worked with. He really likes that sense of collaboration and many DPS Rodrigo as well. They like to share that vision what they have and feel like I have something that I can share with your vision and bring to this project to make it even better. You know, and that's really where it comes down to just you know, that meeting, you don't come in and, and geek out. That's that's the meeting you don't have with a director, you know, what I was carrying when I got this lens, and I got it was cool stuff. And then enough, first of all, it's like, Okay, well, what what do you What's your vision? How do you see your film? You know, what is the theme? You know, how, what does it look like in your mind? You know, because that color palette is part of the conversation. Well, and then the next step might be okay, read the script, what do you feel about the script, and still, it's thematic, you know, they talk about thematic things, then, okay, let's talk about visual references. You bring the years, I'll bring you mind, let's see whether we're on the same page in terms of what this film looks like, feels like, you know, as a director, you can say, Well, look at these three films, I'm thinking about something like this coffee table book, or this particular artist. And the DP will say, oh, okay, I see where you're going. Also, Hey, how about their golden photography? And how about this? And how about that, you know, and you start to share a vision. And that also would come in the discussion of color palette, depending on the genre of the film. And then from there, it's like, okay, we know where we're going now. And now the cinematographer will visually interpret the script where the director will go ahead and focus on shots, angles, composition, framing, as well as working with their actors, you know, and that's really the coming together.
Alex Ferrari 11:40
So, and I know a lot of directors, young directors, full of vigor. As I was, when I was a younger, younger man, I had all these illusions of shooting, you know, getting all my storyboards out getting my shots down. And you do and you could do create that. But as I've gotten older and gone through this, leaning on the eye of a cinematographer, especially when you respect them, like, Look, I'm thinking about shooting it this way. What do you think? and the like, you know what, this would be a great wonder, okay, how do we, okay, that's gonna cut off about an hour and a half of setup times. Let's see how we can do that. And how interesting it is. Leaning on that cinematographer. I found to be, especially one that I trust is invaluable, because I have ideas. And of course, I'm going to come in with shot ideas. And because I'm a cinephile, and and he or she will as well. But, but I think a lot of times filmmakers feel younger filmmakers feel that it's my way or the highway, and they block off that collaboration, because it's ego or its insecurity, or, you know, their fear of like, you know, oh, he's gonna take it away from me, or she's gonna take the movie away from me, because they're running the camera, and there's so much of that stuff going on. Have you found that as well?
Jacqueline B. Frost 12:56
Well, I definitely advise against that. And, and I mean, I've taught directing, and I've taught cinematography, and I taught cinematography, for directors at UCLA extension. And, you know, I definitely say it is best for director not to be a tyrant, and to open their mind, you know, to not say this is just mine, but I'm open to collaboration. And the cinematographer and the production designer, those people, they're there to really serve your vision and to help pull it out of your head and put it on the screen. So to not use them as a resource is, as I think, really problematic for a director because they can make your film so much better.
Alex Ferrari 13:37
No, without question. Now, one thing I always love. Asking a cinematographer is how they want to break down the script. How should a director and as a photographer, sit down and break down a script, approach the script in general?
Jacqueline B. Frost 13:52
Well, there's different ways people like to work. I was fortunate enough to speak with Roger Deakins, a few years ago. And you know, he works with the Coen Brothers a lot, of course, you know, they storyboard and sometimes he'll work with them, and sometimes not, you know, it's not like you have to sit down with them. For him. He trusts in what they do, but he'll glance at what they have. Okay, I see what you want. They'll bring his perspective as well. Rodrigo preeto talked about working with Ang Lee and he was a little bit more precise about the way he wanted things, what lens he wanted. metaleptic loves to sit down and get in and work with, you know, help storyboard or shot list or break down the script, Ellen chorus, she'd like to just take the director sequester them for a week and really pull out of their head what it is they want. So she's really clear on cymatics. And she definitely has a more theoretical perspective to it as well. So you know, some people they just what a cinematographer wants is to be a collaborator. They want to be a collaborator. They don't want to be just Is the technician creating an want to help put their take into it as well. And so being pulled in in the beginning is important.
Alex Ferrari 15:10
Yeah. And I think a lot of times I, the way I always like to collaborate with cinematographers is the shots and the ideas, we work it out together, we work the shot list out together, but the lighting is all them, you know, it should be all them. And that's where this Can't you said this word a few times already in our composition theme. theme is extremely powerful, because you look at a movie like the last emperor, which is just stunning, stunningly shot, anything, Deakins is ever shot, you start looking and you start seeing the theme, through light, through composition to a certain extent, but there's definitely there. But the light and the lens choices are really what create the aesthetic of that theme is that your feeling as well.
Jacqueline B. Frost 15:56
That definitely helps to create it. Because I mean, if your theme is isolation, you're going to use a different focal length than if it's somebody feeling really with all the people around them. So it's a difference between a wide angle and a normal lens, it's going to give you a different perspective and depth of field as if it's a person who's just, you know, falling in love. Maybe we just want to see their eyes movies, you just want to see their face in the background doesn't matter. So yes, lens definitely helps to underscore the theme. Color does as well. You know, whether it's muted, warm, saturated, D saturated, that's part of the tone that's being conveyed, thematically, and will tell tell volumes beyond the words in the exposition itself.
Alex Ferrari 16:39
I mean, you look at it from like the matrix. I mean, which is so the theme of the of I think it was Bill Pope who shot that the theme of the matrix lighting and color palette versus the real world color palette, it's so distinctive, and you get that vibrant, kind of greenish, because of the code vibe, and the aesthetics and then in the real world is all just muted, grays dark. And then you're also collaborating with your wardrobe. And in your production designer, that's another conversation how you could collaborate with all your heads to create the image because it's not just the DP and the director,
Jacqueline B. Frost 17:14
oh, never know, it's the production designer creates the environment that the DP is photographing. So you kind of have to be in concert and coming up with what the overall look is going to be. And the other thing too is once that has been decided the color palette, and you know whether it's going to be saturated, essentially, there's they're shooting that way intentionally. So you can't sort of as a director, go and post and say, Yeah, I don't want to desaturate anymore, let's pump up the color. It's really not the whole design hasn't been created for that. So once you make the decision, you know that you really want to go a certain way, you kind of have to stay with it and not change because the DP has been shooting the film the whole way thinking what you discussed, and you can't all of a sudden change your mind at the end. And you know, the DI
Alex Ferrari 17:58
and the one and we'll talk about the AI in a bit. But the one one example of horrible example of that exact thing happening at probably one of the largest scales ever was the Justice League movie, where the one that was released originally by Joss Whedon was orange that last bout it was just horribly orange. And people were like, what's going on? And then when Zach finally got a chance that release is like, Okay, this makes more sense, because that's the way it was originally shot. So that we'd like jamming something in that wasn't there. And that happens a lot. And especially Yeah, because the power of the is just, it's it's like, it's like Stanley says, With great power comes great responsibility. Yes, it's true. It's true. Because the whole the whole thing can change. Oh, it's, I mean, I've been a colorist for I was at colors for 20 years. So I've colored 50 6070 features plus 1000s of other little projects. So I I would be in a room with a dp and the director. And sometimes the DP would want to go one way when the DP would leave, then the director be like, Hey, can we go, can we go back this way, again, that happens all the time as a colorist, you'd like I who's paying my bills, I have to serve a Master, I can't serve everybody. And so it's like this weird place to be. But, you know, with a couple of strokes, you know, the whole thing now has become D saturated. But but the colors are so vibrant, because the wardrobe is so vibrant. So now I gotta go do more work to fight what you guys originally planned. And I try to explain this to directors like, Look, this is not the way this was designed. I can do it. It's not going to look as good as if we just go with what was designed originally.
Jacqueline B. Frost 19:34
Yeah, well, that's what that happened when the eyes were first coming about in the early 2000s. That was problematic. And so that's why it's kind of written in a lot of ASC and union contracts now that they come back to do the color correction so that it is their vision. The cinematographer vision on that actually is released unless of course the studio head and producer gets in and changes the whole thing but that is supposed to be in contrast Now that you know the caller, is that what they decided on?
Alex Ferrari 20:03
But at the end of the day, but at the end of the day, though it is the director and and or producers final call, isn't it?
Jacqueline B. Frost 20:10
Well, it ultimately could be the studio's final call, you know, but it is the direction, the cinematographer is really the director of the images, they offer the images, right. And the director is the author of the performances. So, you know, it gets a little bit gray, but I think that the best collaborations and if you want to keep working with your dp, I would say, you know, work together like, okay, we we talked about the sector, remember, okay, let's keep going with that. And how D saturated then we then we can negotiate?
Alex Ferrari 20:42
Yeah, I mean, you're not going to go recover chivo or deacons. I mean, that's just not you know, that's not a conference, that's not a conversation.
Jacqueline B. Frost 20:49
But you know, they do their own anyway. I mean, they want to be there, they want to be creating what they really intended the image to be. So that's why they come back. And that's why they're now paid to come back and sit in the DI.
Alex Ferrari 21:03
Yeah, because it's their it's, it's their responsibility. You're absolutely right. And we're also talking about a very high level, I mean, we're talking at the highest, the highest level of, of cinematography and filmmaking as the names that we're throwing around. But when we're talking in the indie world, this is where it becomes a lot grayer egos start flaring up. You know, I've been in rooms where the DP got a little too fancy on set, and I had to save them because they're like, you know what, we're gonna filter this. I'm like, we could do this without, like, hard filters. Don't get married to the image. But the DP wanted to show off for the director and the producer. I'm like, Okay, and then when they came up, like, why is everything yellow? Like, I like it was literally just yellow there. And I knew what they were trying to achieve. And under the look, they were trying, they were trying to Amelie kind of vibe. Oh, yeah. Which the input? But yeah, they, they put too strong of a hard yellow fill filter on it a color gel, not color jumper. Yeah. And it just polluted all the images. And it took me I mean, it was in, there's two big stars in the shot that they were talking about. And it took me about eight hours to kind of literally get in there and like, window things out and follow it took it took forever to get that scene done to save it to literally save it. So you know, that's a scary scenario to be in, and it was in the DP just let things go. But when the producers got involved, they're like, wait a minute, that's not what we discussed. So there's there's that and there's also the politics of it all. Which it's something that a lot of people don't talk about is the politics of, you know, the DP, the director, the producer, then eventually, maybe a distributor studio. But what's your experience? I mean, you've been you've been in those that di suite a lot, I'm sure over the course of your career, and I've interviewed people who've been in it as well. What's your feeling, as far as the politics are concerned?
Jacqueline B. Frost 22:59
Well, the indie world is very different. Very. So of course, issues here, completely different worlds completely different worlds, you know, and I haven't been as high end as the people that I talked to. So their experiences sometimes are mixed as well. I mean, not everything has been, you know, hunky dory for them. And I'm talking about like major people, you know, in the ASC. But in the indie world, you that's where I think the trust between a director and cinematographer is even more important. And personally, I never would have slapped a yellow filter on without saying something to the director, arm, but I don't think I would have even done it. Because I know that it's better these days. Something like that in house, you don't need to do it. The only time I put a black and white a yellow filter on is if I was shooting black and white, of course, pick up the contrast. And then I would say, you know what, I'm going to kick up, you know, that's when I would do
Alex Ferrari 23:51
but that makes sense. And and we could do color tests. You know, like, it's not hard to do a quick camera test. It's a red camera, you own the camera, let's go out and shoot something. And let's test it out. Yes, it's not what I was more ego than anything else, you know, and that's it good. I get it is a problem. And of course, that dp never worked with that director again. And she's gonna say that you ever worked directly never worked with that dp again, and there's just so many I mean, being in this suite for so many years. I just, I just saw everything I've seen. I've seen the best of the scenarios. I've seen the worst of scenarios I've seen a dp who shot a movie when an award at a major festival and wasn't even in the color suite with me. And it was just mean that mean the director call it timing the entire thing. And then they when the cinematography award didn't even mention us things like they were like, you know, like, I know you shot it, man. But, hey, a shout out to the director. Because we are, you know, when I when I decided to dp my first film, I've been coloring for 20 years. So I was like, You know what, if I could just get this thing down the middle? I can save it. And that's exactly what it was. And I showed a few of my friends in the AC about it. And I showed them the film. They're like, what do you think they're like, one of my, one of my good friends in the sec, he's a, he's a very Eastern European, he's like my friend stick to directing. Because it's fine. There's an image there, but please let it leave us to professionals. So I never I didn't even call myself I said lit by I even just, I didn't even want to give myself a dp credit, because I just don't think of it. But But I knew if I could just shoot it down the middle, and I did and shot raw.
Jacqueline B. Frost 25:44
Alex Ferrari 25:44
Definitely shoot RAW. Now, I wanted to ask you about lenses. Now, and I don't want to go down the rabbit hole on this because we can spend five hours on just looking at 30? No, yeah, we already started. But it's what do you think directors need to understand in regards to the aesthetic of lenses? Like the basics of it, because we can go into the weeds about, you know, coatings and lens flares? And I mean, we could go on for hours about this stuff. Because it's 100 it's literally 100 years of different kinds of class.
Jacqueline B. Frost 26:14
Okay, the thing about directors, some not you necessarily, obviously, because you do have a technical background, but there are directors, if you start talking like that, their eyes will just Yes, over Yes. Check out they don't get they just want to know, okay, so but what directors should know, they should understand focal length. And what that gives you in terms of depth of field, for sure, a wide angle is going to give you the whole environment and beyond, you know, a normal is going to reduce that. So you know, know the basics. And know what you're doing with that, know that if you have a zoom on that, yes, you could do a rack and you could do that, you know, the vertigo shot that
Alex Ferrari 26:54
the the jaws,
Jacqueline B. Frost 26:57
right, do that and watch the depth of field come closing in, you know, know that if you're shooting a beauty shot close up, if you have a longer lens on like an 85 a factory, it'd be soft, and your subjects look really good. But if you take a wide angle lens, you put it in your actor space, it's going to distort. And maybe you want to do that because it's a horror film, or they're psychotic or something, right. So if you understand the basic principles, and also the basics of depth of field in terms of focus, because if you are having an 85 and you're in the low light, and you're wide open, you have no movement in there, you know, and you can understand you're focused on the left eye or the right eye if they blink itself. So you know, I think that that's as far as a director needs to go understanding the basics of depth of field, the basics of focal length, and difference between a high speed and low speed. And maybe you know, if you want to add a little more what anamorphic will give you versus a spherical lens
Alex Ferrari 27:51
pro and prime versus zoom and get those kinds of things. But I
Jacqueline B. Frost 27:56
But I outlined in the chapter of the book, I went to coatings and and all of that major company. I had a conversation just last week with the guy from cook. Oh my God, we went way down a rabbit hole. So it was really, you know, but I wouldn't put that I wouldn't put that in for a director to necessarily wrap their head around.
Alex Ferrari 28:16
No, absolutely not. I mean, I'll geek out just a little bit because I have to, but one of my favorite lenses is the Synoptic. Are you familiar with optics panoptics. So canoptek is a French lens that Kubrick shot, the end scene. In shining in the air inside the inside the maze with the snow. He shot that scene with a panoptic which is a 9.8 y non fisheye. So it doesn't fisheye. If you remember this scene in Clockwork Orange when he's walking around the out the record shop, that's a synoptic it's all super wide, but it doesn't fisheye that's the optic the shot right before the the the unfortunate scene in the beginning of Clockwork Orange, let's say when they pan that as door rings that's a panoptic. So I love that lens. So I found it sister, or the baby brother of it in 16, which is the 5.8 good optic, which you can attach to a a Blackmagic 1080 p pocket. So it has a super 16 lens. And it's I shot my shot my feet I shot one of my features. A lot of my shots were with that. It needs light, it works best outside, if you're inside you need it, you really need to, you know, if you shoot it wide open, it's going to be soft on the edges. But you can pop in a little bit, especially if you shoot a little bit higher rez and I was blown away at how beautiful the images it's just Oh, it's just, it's just wide. It's great. So that's it and I got it off of ebay and they're available. Still And the nine points are still rentable. They're rare, but they're rentable. But these are kind of little vintage things that you just like oh, what a Kubrick shoot. Oh Okay, there you go. Yeah, I want to I want to shoot with that so I mean, I go down that rabbit hole, but vintage I mean, look what I'm Zack Snyder just did with with army of the dead. That was all was it? We it was it What was he? What did he realize? He rehoused? Is it still lenses or just old vintage glass?
Jacqueline B. Frost 30:28
I'm not sure I there's probably an article on American cinematographer magazine about it. Yeah, I mean, because he because if you are working with vintage glass, still camera lenses and rehousing them,
Alex Ferrari 30:39
well, he rehoused all of all his lenses, and he shot and you can tell like, it's a very, like, there's barely any, like everything's out of focus. Like he moves 100 it was a really unique for such a big budget, visual effects film, a pretty pretty ballsy and he shot the whole thing himself because he's he grew up as a cameraman, and director cameraman in the commercial world. So it's fascinating to watch. But that's what's happening now. And knowing something as simple as this, this idea, if you're shooting with a red if you have a female actress or any actor, if you want to see the pores, shoot with new lenses, if you want to soften things up a little bit, shoot with a little bit older, size, cook better, because it's going to be a softer image.
Jacqueline B. Frost 31:26
I mean, old cooks, because the old cooks are getting sharper and crisper, although they were saying the Zeiss is, you know, their, their lines are just perfect. So that from end to end, the lens will be crisp and sharp, whereas cook allows the fall off. And so I think, you know, bring it back to a director again, if you have the opportunity to test some glass with your dp Yeah, and then together and then you know, you write let's notes, this is the 25, cook, this is 25 sites, this is this this is that, then you can really get a sense and the director can respond to what they really like.
Alex Ferrari 32:02
And that's and if you can do that, and in today's world, you know, you probably could do that. I mean, you probably could have the DP like rent, rent a couple packages for the day, go out and shoot some tests, come back to the DI suite and take a look at it and see what even if you know nothing as a director about lenses, you could just go I like the way that looks.
Jacqueline B. Frost 32:20
I don't like that that's too sharp that you know, definitely. Yeah. And I mean, that's something that isn't hard to do. And I it would be a bite nice bonding thing for a director, oh, yeah, they don't know each other that well. And then you can start to see where you're going. And I think more of those kind of testy experiences watching films together, getting a sense of where this person's coming from, you know, understanding each other I that will make it so much easier on those 12 to 15 hour days.
Alex Ferrari 32:48
Oh, especially on that 15th hour, is where you really, you know, those last those last few hours of those days is when you start leaning on each other, and especially the director is leaning on the on the DP a lot. I've been on shoots, where I'm just like, I'm either exhausted, flustered, I'm dealing with other things on set, and I can't, I can't even think of the next shot. And I'm like, we're working where do we need to put the camera? And the DP is there. Remember, we spoke about this, let's Why don't we shoot this here? Or the location changes? Or we can't shoot it that location. So we have to run to another location and steal something? And we're like, okay, on the fly, what are we going to do? And yes, that's when you you want that, that, you know, brother or sister in arms on the day in that relationship. So, so important.
Jacqueline B. Frost 33:38
It is it is and it can make and break a film too. Because if it isn't a good relationship, and you're hating each other and, and like I always used to say don't fight in front of the children, like, you know, you're arguing in front of the actors, because you got to throw off you know, you know, go are you behind the trailer somewhere, if you punch each other back then but don't you know, it's it can really ruin a film. So I think finding that person and I think that's why directors who really like a certain dp will keep working with them. And you know, and then unfortunately, if somebody passes away, it's harder to find another way to keep working with again, and you know, but it's a shorthand that's so essential. And doing these books, I, you know, I was able to really focus on the first one came out in 2009. So I was still talking about film stuff. You know, that's when I decided I had to redo this completely and redo the whole thing from beginning to end. But so I got to talk to more people because of that, you know, and I really found that it was an important conversation. And that DPS feel very, very strong about it. They don't want to be dictated to they don't want to be handed a shot list or a storyboard say it has to be just like this because they say nothing looks like a storyboard. No lens look exactly like storyboards, right, you know, as a reference. Cool,
Alex Ferrari 34:58
you know? And then That's the other thing is like sometimes you work with DPS, excuse me with directors who are arguably could be easily could be lighting this themselves like a Fincher or a Cameron and and like like I have a wonderful story with Russell carpenter who you know the Titanic won the Oscar for Titanic but any the True Lies as well with and now he's doing avatar with with with James and his stories of Jeff's are are hilarious because of I won't tell it here but I'll tell you off here but it wasn't I don't want to get into that the whole story but but you know when you have somebody like a director like a James Cameron or David Fincher who arguably could like the damn thing themselves could they're that technically inclined. You need a special dp for that you don't like Deakins is not going to work with Fincher, there's just no way. No way. No, no way. You know, but chivo will work with Alejandro because that works perfectly fine. You know, or Terrence Malick and chivo will work together because the company always in it. Oh my god, isn't it amazing? Oh my god, Shiva. Oh, God. He says just like, you know, when you're with these kind of cinematographers, and that's the thing when you when you have two Titans, like if you have a deacons, and you have a Michael man, how does that, like, you know, how do you how does that work out? We're off subject now network is geeking out and, and playing around. But in seriousness, like when you have two Titans like that, that are some of the best at what they do in their own fields, and they can't agree with one image or the one way of looking at things. It must be hard. And that's those stories have been out there. And therapies. Sure. Yeah.
Jacqueline B. Frost 36:52
You know, and that's also depending on if they continue to work with each other. If you look at a DPS credit, you see they work 10 films with this one, one with somebody else, and then five more with the same people. That one was not a good experience.
Alex Ferrari 37:05
Generally, generally, generally speaking, yeah. And you could see like, you know, Spielberg would work with Who's he worked Africa, who he was, was he working with, like, up until 80? Until then, Janis came in? And then who and Yes, yeah, yeah. And he worked with him for a certain point. And then that was it. Going Hey, john Jonas, and then, ya know, it's been he's basically shot everything right? since then. Yeah. Yes. Yes. He's, because he's, that works. It works. And I go back to the I go back to the well all the time with people I've worked with, because I just like, I don't wanna have to deal with a new relationship, especially at such a high level, you want to just build that relationship and Okay, know what I'm gonna get with this, you know, as opposed to try and dating someone new. This is this is a relationship. I don't want to date someone new. And I have to look, I have to like pretend I'm somebody I'm not. And I can only hold that up for so long. Like, it's like I know you we know each other. Let's just keep going down this road.
Jacqueline B. Frost 38:07
Like, got Martin Scorsese, right. He worked with Michael Bauhaus for many years, many years from you know, they did like from that film, after hours in the shorter Wait, then Michael ball has passed. So he had to find somebody new. So he tests the waters lib found Rodrigo creato. And now that's been working since, you know, he had Robert Richardson shoot a couple films for him. But it's been creative since. So it's like when you find somebody you're comfortable with working with you go with you've got Robert riches, and he's used to work with Oliver Stone all the time. Yeah, he's trying to try to divorce. You know, and now he's a Tarantino, because he found his new love. And, you know, they connected. Oh, they
Alex Ferrari 38:53
connected in a big way. And, you know, I just wish I just with quitting a little shoot more often. So we could see their work together. But yeah, The Hateful Eight. It's been stunning. And they're doing insane stuff, what they were doing and all that kind of stuff. You know, now that you spoke about visual reference, what should a director bring as visual reference for their vision to a dp?
Jacqueline B. Frost 39:16
Well, it's anything from previous films, of course, some, you know, you could say this film, this film, this film. I think Spike Lee would be notorious for actually screening and, you know, saying something like this, not, you know, knocking on the shoulder or whatever. If they don't have time, they would just share shot list streaming things, you know, check out this, check out that. So photography, of course, is a very strong reference. You know, you've got photography of William Eggleston for a certain time period with the Alang Grapes of Wrath time period. Nan golden, contemporary 70s. You've got a variety of photography, sometimes. It could be graphic novels, depending on the kind of, you know, film it is it could be old magazines Life magazine look magazine for a certain vintage time period. The force there are a handful of painters that are filmic painters you got Edward Hopper, you know Caravaggio, for chiaroscuro Rembrandt for chiaroscuro. Vermeer for directional light. You've got Andrew Wyatt for a certain look. He misery they're very filmic and their their paintings alone seem like stills from a film
Alex Ferrari 40:29
in a way you watch it you watch Barry Barry. Lyndon Lyndon B Barry Lyndon right yeah, yeah very very Linden oh my god like those frames are literally paintings they looked a tour of the candlelight from below I mean, it's literally like he just zooms out and then you just like still frame that looks identical to a masterwork I mean, all and it's shot, shot after shot after shot after shot in that movie like that.
Jacqueline B. Frost 40:58
And I was pulling and I was talking about Sam Mendez talked about using Edward Hopper as their as a reference to Conrad hall for Road to Perdition. So as frame grabs, I mean, there is a frame in repetition that looks like an Edward Hopper painting. I mean, it's seen where it's kind of split in half the boys sitting on the bed in a long shot. The Tom Hanks character comes in, but he's not there yet. So it's an empty frame. And it's so painterly, it's beautiful.
Alex Ferrari 41:25
No, Conrad, I mean, Bobby Fischer. I mean everyone always goes back to Bobby Fischer and what he was doing and Bobby Fischer Alright guys, I apologize we're geeking out again. This I knew this was I knew this was gonna happen. This isn't gonna happen. One thing one thing I think directors should understand is the power of color and the color palette. Absolutely. Because color is so informative at its at a subconscious level green gives you this energy of feeling red gives you that and I think one of the best uses of that was the loud user the last emperor. It is it's a masterclass in color palette. And what from like when the instruct when the teacher comes on a green bike, you know things little
Jacqueline B. Frost 42:11
it's Vittorio has a whole philosophy on color. But you don't have to get as in depth as that except if you understand that their color even just using color as complimentary colors if you understand the color theory a little bit
Alex Ferrari 42:25
what do we have? What the color wheel there?
Jacqueline B. Frost 42:28
Yeah, the color wheel what's you know, what's warm, what's cool, what's complimentary, you know, and integrating those if something is the past the period piece you know, it's warmer perhaps in the present day maybe schooler I mean, there's been so many films where they've touched on this the color palette for specific reasons saturated liquid, Todd Haynes and Ed Lockman. duty to recreate the 50s it has this feeling of a technical or Kodachrome film, film, but that's add light lighting it like Kodachrome film, you know. So, the references will give you that to base yourself on but you have to understand as a director, if you're saying well let's everything have cool palette, what you're saying is this is a somber tone, right use for a rom com.
Alex Ferrari 43:12
It's not gonna work.
Jacqueline B. Frost 43:15
Nor if you have a rom com and it's all you know, if it's saturated warm, okay, we want to see the but if it's dark, and chiaroscuro, that doesn't work as a rom com either. So your lighting and doing color for genre.
Alex Ferrari 43:26
Yeah, exactly. So you look at that's why most comedies are shot essentially flat, almost, it's like, you know, Dumb and Dumber, or the more slapstick it gets the flatter it is there's no in depth lighting. Rom coms have a little bit more shape to the light, but again, very specific. But then you look at, you know, a Michael Bay film, and then or Tony Scott film, and the colors are vibrant and saturated and dark blacks because it's an action film. And then you look at seven or fightclub A Fincher film. And the contrast is dark and like you look at seven is just a masterclass in life. That's
Jacqueline B. Frost 44:05
Yeah, because the whole look visually, is a visual exposition of how sick and twisted and sad story is. Yeah. It's telling it's telling the audience how to feel without telling them how to feel.
Alex Ferrari 44:18
Right, you see a frame you see a frame of seven, and you see a frame of Dumb and Dumber and there's a different energy regardless of what's happening in the frame. So understanding those basics as a director, you have a better yet these are things that I think all directors need to understand at a rudimentary level, to be able to be a, an effective storyteller in this medium colors, basic color theory, basic lens choices, basic lighting, but you know, these kinds of things are basics that you can't I don't want to think about it. I don't want to think about like, if you don't as a director, you're relinquishing that power to someone Else good. Could be you could take all the credit for a Roger Deakins. Or you could have a dp who has no understanding of what they're doing and make you look horrible. But you need to understand just the basics to go, Oh, wait a minute, that's not what I want. That's not the tone I want. We need to switch that basic basic stuff. Do you agree?
Jacqueline B. Frost 45:19
Yes, absolutely. And it will if you can get on the same page and really truly collaborate together that's gonna make the film so much better.
Alex Ferrari 45:27
Know what I mean. And again, Malik and chivo I mean, you watch you watch tree of life and you're just like, just you just sit there like you just said, you just sit there and go. Oh, yeah, this is like this. Like it's it's it's when they when those two get together. It's like you're in a dream. It is really dream like in a way that I can't really explain it and that's the beauty of it is that the visuals of it are so dreamlike. And it's not that they just like you know, foggy put some Vaseline on the lens is nothing like that. It's reality ethereal quality. Yeah. I mean, one of my favorite Kubrick films is his eyes wide shot. And I absolutely adore eyes wide shot. Intel. I love eyes wide shot, but the thing is with eyes wide shot. It's a dream. It's it's completely unrealistic thing and the way they did the sets and all that stuff. But the lighting I mean, especially the beginning, just the the the Christmas lights in the background. Yeah. And that's how they lit they lit the whole damn scene with Christmas lights. And I think China ball. Right, right, which are good things to keep as a reference. Right? Yeah, I mean, China balls, the indie filmmakers best friend is a china ball. cheap, cheap lighting,
Jacqueline B. Frost 46:53
get it get a little bit and they travel? Well they flatten out, just don't crush the bolts keep them separate. Exactly. Exactly.
Alex Ferrari 47:00
Now, one thing with all the confusion of cameras and resolution, this is a one one area that, you know, it's a pet peeve of mine with the 8k 12k 6k 5k, all this kind of stuff. So many directors get caught up in the case like, Oh, I'm shooting 8k, I'm like, good for you. It means nothing. I shot my last film 10 ADP looks great. blew it up to 2k on a DCP projected at the Chinese theatre. And I was shocked at how good it looked. I was scared. I'm like, this is not gonna look good. And all that oh my god, it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever been a part of. So it doesn't it again, it's always about what's behind the lines, who's who's behind the lens and Who's shooting the shooting it. But what's your take on this whole 8k and the resolution wars, if you will, and directors getting caught up in that. And also then the power that that gives the director with with composition in post?
Jacqueline B. Frost 48:00
Well, in terms of First of all, I want to say there's a quote that john Seale said to me, he said, of course, with a really good Australian accent that I won't do right now. First Five minutes into watching a film, they're not going to know your audience is going to not be aware of whether it's 8k 2k 5k they're not gonna think about that they're gonna be in the story. The story is any good. All right, so that first of all, isn't going to make your film better shooting 8k? And how are you projecting it 8k because you can shoot it 8k but then it's being projected to K at best, at best it's on on a monitor, it's 1080. So what does it really matter? You know, if you are shooting something that is isn't the right now 4k is kind of averaged out. You know, cinematographers said that super 35 is the equivalent of a 6k k anamorphic is is beyond you know, supers six 630 65 millimeter is beyond 10. It's like eight to 10k whatever. But unless you're seeing it like that, you're not getting the impact of it. If you're watching it on your on your phone, or on a computer, it really doesn't matter what you could be shot with your phone. No, it doesn't matter. So to get hung up on that I think is a really trivial and marketing kind of issue. That right now the manufacturers of the cameras keep saying well we can do this and this how many cases are we going to go? Do you really need to see somebody scores Okay, then your di guy you know, you go into post now you got to slap 100 filters on it to soften things up again. You know, you're it doesn't you put it back that's now taken away from film in the making.
Alex Ferrari 49:39
The only thing I would say ever to shoot that at the higher resolution is that is a wildlife. Shoot it at 12k you need that resolution. You're out in the in the savanna somewhere you want to zoom in on a lion eating a gazelle, and you're cute, then yes, absolutely shoot as many cases as you can, because you're more likely going to project that animal iMac scenario or something like that, but the one thing that I've talked to so many VPS about, especially when I'm in my in the in the DI suite was the repositioning You reek recomposing shots, where the DP very, you know, with with with mission, shot it and compose it one way, but the director comes in and goes, Oh, well, let's get all our coverage from the shots. And let's pop into extreme close up. Let's pop out over here. Let's do this and that. Can you do that? Especially in the indie world? Can you do that? Yes. If you shot 6k, could you get away with it? Yes, but the lighting is not correct. The lighting was lit for a wider a wider shot. It's not, it's not lit for your eyes. Yes, you can jump into the eyes. But then it's my job then as a DI that I'm doing basically digital lighting and I'm sculpting light in the DI which takes longer, all this kind of stuff. So but and I know that the PS, every dp ever talked to hating,
Jacqueline B. Frost 51:00
because you lighting you every time you do a different setup, you're you're tweaking the light. And if it's a close up, now that's going to cut into the coverage, of course, you're going to tweak the lights off in the light do this. And so that's that actor looks the way you want them to look. So to just take a slice out of something else is not ideal at all. No,
Alex Ferrari 51:18
no. I mean, look, if you get in trouble, maybe if you get in trouble one shot, but not like, because we all do that. I mean, I've seen $200 million movies who shoot it or whatever. Yeah, I mean, I was I was talking to a dp who worked with bei and he literally was in the DI went outside, shot a closeup of a tire with his iPhone and brought it back in, inserted it and made the movie. Oh, that's awesome. Because it's because it was like, yeah, I'll be right back. Let me go get another shot. He shot some sort of tie or something with his iPhone. It was an insert it was like a you know, 15 frame insert, but he wanted that shot, edited it in, no one ever knew. So it happens it happens. But as a as a thing that is a constant is definitely
Jacqueline B. Frost 52:06
not ideal. But the thing is, like, you know, and resolute things have shifted so radically quickly, like john Beit Bailey told me he shot a film a few years back, this was when the eyes were early, they shot it anamorphically you know, so it was widescreen. anamorphic. And they only did to do a to K di. So it was released. Okay, so what was the point of shooting? widescreen anamorphically. You know, it was there was no point it was reduced. So, you know, if you shoot something 1k 2k 4k, you're great. If you have the opportunity to do something, or if it's a special feck thing, or if it's it is going to be IMAX or huge. Okay, then the higher case matter. But to get have a little tiny camera get hung up on
Alex Ferrari 52:48
this is 15k
Jacqueline B. Frost 52:50
who gives a crap really, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter because you don't need to see that much detail.
Alex Ferrari 52:56
Right? You want to know you do not trust me. I've been in that I've been in the AI suite and I'm like, oh, that actor did not Oh, they didn't shave today. Okay, that's I see every hair, okay? Look at that way,
Jacqueline B. Frost 53:10
you don't need to see it. I mean, remember with film, remember the music, the magical transformation that would take place you're shooting on set. Okay, you got your Zeiss lenses at all. But you're shooting film, you see it transferred. And it looks just beautiful. Because the ice is different than film reads. You know, that's what made it so nice and soft and magical. Whereas you have a really harsh lighting, and you have a really sharp lens in a four to 6k image quality. You don't really want that sharpness.
Alex Ferrari 53:43
And that's why Alexa hasn't really jumped up to 8k 10k cuz they're like, we don't need that. And and arguably, Alexa has the soft one of the softer images. I mean, when I say softer, I mean a pleasantly soft edges. And the red, the red is sharp, as its surgical, how the red sensor picks up the image. And I don't know about you, but I'm a big black magic fan. I love Blackmagic cameras, I think they're the best bang for the buck for an independent film. And I've done tests where I've shot and this is for everyone listening, because everyone thinks Oh Alexa, Alexa, let's if you can afford it. God bless you. God bless you. But if you can't, I've shot with and I've spoken to AC cinematographers who have had black magics on the set with as B or C cameras on every set. And they're like we can't publicize this because you know, we can't do that because that's just it. That's not the cool thing I guess or whatever. But they literally had they should be roll on it and you can't. Can't tell and I actually did like it let's actually put this to the test. So I shot Blackmagic Alexa, same lenses, same setup, shot it down the middle. I mean I throw it up there. I challenge anybody to tell me which is which but where The Alexa starts showing its glory is where you start pulling it. You start going under, under or over. The black magic falls apart. But the Alexa hold and hold and but if you're doing your job as a dp, you shouldn't really be under five steps. Step five stops or not. Yeah, I'm hoping not but, but just for people listening. I mean, Blackmagic cameras are best bang for your buck. Without question. You can get a beautiful image of you shot with those or have you any experience with those cameras? Yeah, yeah. I have one right here. Yeah, they're great. They're they're fantastic. Little cameras. They're fantastic cameras. Especially. That's the original 1080 p that's super 16. sensor. Oh, what I have. Oh, so also, you definitely get to look up that synoptic you got to put that an optic up. Look up that panoptic it's good. And that's been booster. Isn't that speed booster amazing on that thing. You get an extra stop stop and a half. Yes, yeah. Sweet. It's, it's it's happening here. So I have, yeah, different things that yeah, it depends on the budget depends on the price of the project. Of course. One other thing I wanted to talk, so we kind of touched upon this the entire time, but in a DI suite. How should a director work with a cinematographer in the DI suite? In your opinion, and I will tell you mine because I see so often, but I'd love to hear your point of view. I think the DI suite really is the DPS domain, because it's their image, that they're tweaking and polishing based on a discussion that's already been had with the director. So I don't think it's a time to do radical different things. Or to go off of that I think that the DI suite is really for the DP to finish their film, to finish being the author of their image. So but where do you balance that with the vision of the director in the safe, it's a little bit different. And we're talking subtleties, not we're not talking like black and white to color or set massive saturation differences or anything like that. But aesthetically, where I've been in the room with a director is like, I don't like that. But the DP is like, well, I want it this way. At a certain point that dp has to like, Look, if it's within five or 10%, of where I originally had the idea, I disagree with you, but you're the director. It is your final vision. This is where that politics situation comes in. And then God forbid, if the producer shows up off, forget it. You do not want the producer involved in the situation.
Jacqueline B. Frost 57:22
But you know, then at the end of the day, I mean, you're working for the director, the director is not working for you. So if it was me, in that situation, I would have to relent, if the director really feels that it should be a little brighter than I intended it to be, you know, it is there felt, I may be annoyed every time I see that shot. But isn't it
Alex Ferrari 57:46
right, as long as it's within a preset, like if it's if it's like, if we're literally just, you know, pixel adjusted pixels. It's a five or 10% difference. That's aesthetics. That's like my taste versus your taste. But if it's like 50% off, and like, you know, wait a minute, this is not what we talked about your we went in shooting the matrix, but now you want Amelie, or you want or you want Dumb and Dumber, this is not what we talked about. Now, can you tell people about your book in cinematography, for directors a guide for the Creator, calibration, collaboration? tell everybody about the book and why you wrote the book?
Jacqueline B. Frost 58:24
Yes, well, the first book came out in 2009. And the second book came out in March of 2020. Right on time of COVID. Of course, obviously,
Alex Ferrari 58:33
for for everyone to go out shooting in production. So great book,
Jacqueline B. Frost 58:37
I haven't done any promotion for it. It's sort of like disappeared for a year. So I'm just pretending that it just came out now. So that the second edition is new, completely updated. The reason I wrote the book is because it is sort of the thread between the director and cinematographer to kind of put them on the same page. This is it's written for directors more than cinematographers. But I've given it to cinematographers, and then given it to directors like
Alex Ferrari 59:05
please, please do this, for God's sakes with this,
Jacqueline B. Frost 59:08
please read this book. So it gives them It gives directors producers screenwriters, people who are not super tech savvy, it gives them an understanding of what his cinematographer does. And I use a variety of quotes from ASC members to kind of validate what I'm saying. So I talked about lenses. I talked about formats. I talked about visual effort references color palette, working with the script formats. touch on color theory. I even talked about film versus digital, talk about certain types of cameras, where we are today, and a whole list of collaborators, directors and cinematographers historically.
Alex Ferrari 59:46
So it is a book that every director should read, especially directors coming up who have not had the experience of being on set with many DPS. It is invaluable because if you had a good collaborator as a dp You're, it's so hard to make a good movie period. Yes, it's so difficult to tell a good story, it's so difficult to just produce a film and get it over the finish line. If you're fighting your dp, it's so much harder.
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:00:14
It's not, that's, that's hard, you should be in celebrating the fact that you're making the film, celebrating the fact that you've finished the film, because you're going to be in festivals together, you know, you're going to be sharing it together. And, and hopefully, you're both proud of what you've achieved. So that's, you know, and so I'm all about advocating for collaboration, on all parts, for sure.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:35
in life in general, we should all get together, have a coke and a smile. No, Freeman's, then, you know, just work them out calmly, what you know what, and that's, and that's something that's very important to say, you will not all agree on things. And as a dp, I'm like, I want to go left, you want to go right, that's fine. As long as the DP understands that the end of the day, the director is, you know, and I'm taking it as a director, I'm taking advice or input from the production designer, the costume designer, the actors that all this, oh, this location, that location, all these kind of things, but, but if you could, at least respect I think respect is the big word here, is refers back. If you respect your cinematographer, and the cinematographer respects the director, you can work things out, as long as there's respect there. But you will get angry, there's no question, you're gonna get angry with each other, because it's production. It's crazy. It's insane.
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:01:29
And you're creatives, and sometimes you're not gonna see things exactly the same way. Right? But it's it, you know, I have to trust that if I'm shooting for a director, that it's their vision, and they see it in their head, they know what they're doing. So I may see it this way, but they're like, no, I really want it. I don't need that. Okay. I'm not gonna argue you're fine. If that my shot? No, you know, okay, you see it this way, you know how you're cutting it together. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:50
All right. And let's, let's move and let's move it along. Let's move on. And that in that attitude is of one of an experience of photographer because I've seen both the inexperienced cinematographer and the expert and the experience cinematographers just like the experience directed so so like, that's fine. Just Just get along. Let's I got to go get some coffee. Let's move on. It's really not worth fighting about it's pick your battles pick, isn't that you, the young dp the young directors, they fight all the battles all the time, and they're exhausted by the end of the shoot, where the it's like an every in every feels like the the guy was that story, when there was a story of a young boy who wanted to finally fight his dad, like, you know, that coming of thing and like, I'm gonna take you out Oh, man. And the and the dads like, Alright, you want to fight, let's walk outside and go, is it so that the kids like walks out the door, walks, he's walking out the door to go fight them in the front yard. And that clocks him in the back of the head and knocks him out? And when the kid wakes up, he's like, lesson number one never turned you back on. So that's age. I mean, I should. That's abuse. But but you get the story, you get the Let's hope it doesn't happen. But you get the idea.
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:03:09
What a dp and experienced dp in particular, but even you want to director be prepared, yes. there and go, Oh, gee, where do we put the care of like, you should know that already. So if you if a director comes on set, and they're prepared, and they know what they're doing, and they know what they want, they have a vision that will make everybody's life so much better. It'll make the shoot so much smoother. And that's what you want to go for. You don't want to be completely unprepared of what you're doing.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:36
Amen, amen. And I'm gonna ask you a few questions as well. My guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? Don't piss anybody off? No. That's obviously not possible. Especially in today's world, you're gonna piss somebody off by doing something?
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:03:55
Well, the thing is, today, there is so many more open doors than there were before. Because you can make so many films digitally that look good, that you can submit to so many festivals, there's so many outlets now. If you're a woman, and you'd like to be a dp is so much easier for you now, with the doors being open for unions for the ASC. There's an openness and rather than, you know, a discrimination against women shooting so it, go for it, but do your best work and be strong and don't let anybody deter you on the path. And I say that for guys, as well. You know, you have to just be determined, follow what you want to do. And stay your course. You know, I think eventually you'll make it.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? Wow, that's a hard that's a good question. You know, I appreciate
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:04:52
I mean, I think everything is an endless learning process. Don't ever assume you know, everything remain open. And be friendly and fun to work with. You know, don't take yourself so seriously
Alex Ferrari 1:05:06
as I don't know who I think forgot who it was, but it was either a famous director, someone's like the best advice I ever got as a to make it in this business Just don't be a dick. Good, there's still working in the business. So I don't know, there's there there is there is and they do get to a certain place. But generally speaking, if you want, if you want to be on set with, you want to be on set for 15 hours a day with someone you get along with. And if you're a prick, you're not going to work as much.
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:05:36
People aren't going to want to work with you, and you're not going to work with them. So and that has happened, you know, it's like it's a hard job. And I've talked to DPS about this too, you know, and they say they want to enjoy the experience, you know, life's too short not to.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
And last question three of your favorite films of all time. Of all time,
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:05:56
I'd have to put the graduate in there for sure. So Apocalypse Now because that's the one that made me fall in love with cinematography, because of victorio. And the third one that could be tough. I really love the work of Douglas Sirk and the cinematography of Russell Mehdi, so good to look at like, all that haven't allows or written on the wind. I love the saturation of the 1950s cinematography, I love the work of wrestling money. So I guess I could say those.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:28
And where can people buy the book?
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:06:30
They can buy the book through Michael ABC productions. They go buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It's pretty much everywhere now.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:37
That's awesome. Jackie, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been a pleasure. And I know we can geek out for at least another hour or two. But I do appreciate you writing the book and helping directors collaborate with send a tog refers in a positive way. So I appreciate you.
Jacqueline B. Frost 1:06:53
Yes, thank you so much for having me and it's been a pleasure speaking again.
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