OnFilm Interviews A Conversation with Xavier Pérez Grobet ... - Kodak

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OnFilm Interviews A Conversation with Xavier Pérez Grobet ... - Kodak

KODAK: Online Publications: OnFilm Interviews

together-Five Easy Pieces, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and also Rat

Catcher-and spoke about the language they used. I considered flashing the

film, but because of budget I ended up using cyan and a "pull" process on

the negative. I chose an older set of Zeiss prime lenses, because we didn't

want everything to be crystal sharp and clear.

QUESTION: What an interesting example of visual grammar. How about

another one?

GROBET: There were POV shots where we wanted a sense of unreality to

represent a feeling of uncertainty We over exposed the film by three stops,

so the images are grainy and washed out just enough to tell the audience

he might be seeing something he doesn't want to see.

QUESTION: Where do ideas like that come from?

GROBET: You are always learning and looking for ways to push it a little

bit farther, but you can't do it alone. I can read a script and have ideas that

might work for the film, but unless I am working with a director who shares

that vision, and is willing to experiment, it isn't going to happen. Every film

has its own language with endless possibilities, but you have to create it

together with a director who shares your vision.

QUESTION: How do you decide whether or not you are interested in

spending months of your life working on a particular film?

GROBET: There are many different reasons to choose a film. First is the

story and most important the director. Without that match it is hard to come

up with a visual understanding. After The Woodsman, I was ready for a

comedy. It is really easy to get categorized as someone who does certain

types of films, and once that happens it is difficult to get people to see you

as someone who can do other things.

QUESTION: You shot a comedy, Nacho Libre, fairly recently.

GROBET: The director was Jared Hess. He has a very specific vision in

terms of lenses and framing, which I embraced and found interesting. We

used wide angle lenses and composed the action in the center of the

frame. We mainly used a 21 mm even for close-ups and the long lens was

a 27 mm. It was the right language for this movie.

QUESTION: You have also occasionally shot documentaries.

GROBET: I have shot some documentaries like Blossoms of Fire (2000). It

was a 16 mm film directed by Maureen Gosling and Ellen Osborne. It is

about a community in the south of Mexico where the women wear the

pants. Documentaries are kind of like hunting. They teach you that you

have to be ready to shoot when unexpected things happen. All of your

senses have to be open to what's happening around you.

QUESTION: Do you ever see a cross-over between documentary and

narrative filmmaking in terms of visual language?

GROBET: Unexpected things happen on fiction film sets as well, and it's

magic when you capture them.

QUESTION: When did you move from Mexico to Los Angeles?

GROBET: That happened in 1999. I shot Before Night Falls that year. That

film was directed by Julian Schnabel. It was produced in Mexico and in

New York. Lot's of doors opened with this movie.

QUESTION: Do people in different countries approach filmmaking

differently?

GROBET: I guess there are some differences but filmmakers everywhere

have a common language. One interesting thing is that whether you are

shooting in Mexico, the U.S., China, Russia or Buenos Aires, film crews are

the same.

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