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Interview with cinematographer Lubomir Ballek

  • What personality or character traits are necessary to excel in being a cinematographer/ DP?

Be demanding on yourself, your director, the crew, and the film itself. The cinematographer must aim for being a visual artist, not just a camera technician who exposes the camera censor. Be humble and able to work with and under other people.

  • In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?

Josef Illík, Martin Douba, Piotr Sobociński Jr., Sabine Lancelin, Jan Čuřík, Jan Kališ, Sergey Urusevsky and many more.

  • What makes good cinematography?

Good cinematography enhances the director`s/ author`s vision.

  • What makes a good camera? And what has been your favorite camera to use?

A good camera is the one that works. I don`t have a specific favorite camera.

  • Do you think that cinematographer’s work has changed when movies went from film to digital?

I guess it did. The whole crew is less focused on digital. Much more material is shot which makes especially the editor`s job more tedious. But I don`t think that the quality of the final film changed much. It`s not better nor worse.

  • Now that people watch films on TV, computers and even their phones, do you think about that end experience when you are shooting?

Absolutely. I think films tend to use more close-up shots now so that the impact of the shot is still strong enough even on smaller screens. The intensity of moves feels also very different on small and big screens. Color grading is important. TV and computer displays have different contrast and color rendition than a cinema screen. I try to keep all this in mind when shooting.

  • Which one is more important: light or shadow?

An egg or chicken? 🙂 Both matter the same and both take their lead in different situations. I guess the cliche would be to say that shadow matters more. Therefore, I will say it`s the light that is more important 🙂

  • What is the cinematographer’s involvement in pre-production, production and post-production?

All stages are crucial. Your work is always weaker and one can always tell when you don`t work hard enough in any of the three.

  • What involvement in the production budget does the cinematographer/DP have?

Camera equipment, staff, and realization costs take a big part of the budget of cause. But it`s a bit confusing question, I don’t quite understand what is being asked.

  • What is your most valuable advice for being a Cinematographer/DP?

Work hard and do it for the film, not anything or anyone else.