"The Art of Cinematography"

Book from Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC
with Bob Fisher and Lorenzo Codelli - contributions from Luciano Tovoli, Gabriele Lucci and Daniele Nannuzzi


Global Cinematography Institute believes in teaching the Art and Craft, as well as the "History of Cinematography" as a method to prepare students for future meaningful careers in the art form by analyzing and studying important films and cinematographers from the past. The new book by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Apocalypse Now, The Conformist, The Last Emperor, Last Tango in Paris) is a great resource for gaining exposure to important films from the history of cinematography - many of which directly impacted Storaro in his own illustrious career.


Author Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (in an excerpt from exclusive interview with Global Cinematography Insitute Co-Founder Yuri Neyman, ASC) he describes his inspiration for creating the book, how the films were chosen and what he hopes to accomplish with the project.


By Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC -- I was very lucky in my life, because I had the chance to start photography / cinematography because I met several wonderful people while I was growing up, and they gave me the opportunity to start very soon.  I was very young, 21 years old to be a camera operator, and at 28 I was able to do my firelst feature film with one fantastic director, Franco Rossi, one of the Italian best directors we had several years ago. And later, step by step, I had the great chance to have a wonderful crew that followed me more than 30 years all over the world, and I had chance to meet great directors, international directors, apart from Bernardo Bertolucci, which I did eight films with through 25 years of great collaboration. I also had the chance to meet Mr. Francis Coppola, Warren Beatty, Carlos Saura and so they gave me an international view of what cinematography means in every different aspect.


In fact, I spent 2 years in Iran, one year in preproduction, 1 year in shooting the movie, but while I was there I remember I was working in the desert near Afghanistan and I was on location, and they said to me, “Vittorio, whatever you need, you should have it, because for us this is a very important project, and so you should have the best that you think you need to have around you.” So you have the chance to put all together my normal crew in Italy, I was able to choose any kind of technology that I normally use. I have 6 cameras from Arri, and all the light came from Italy with my light board that I can use to control all the lighting system. I was able to use Technicolor room like I normally use within our system. So, practically to me, it was kind of a dream project, because it was a huge, big, epic picture but at the same time it was very classic and very spiritual, which was the best that I can imagine, and I said to myself, “Well, apart from the thanks I have to give to many people I made my career on, I think I should give an homage, I need to thank so many cinematographers that came before me.” Practically I believe that we are the result of everything preceding us.


So I call my friend Luciano Tovoli, ASC, AIC, and another cinematographer Daniele Nannuzzi, who is the president of the Italian Association of Cinematographer, and I presented to them the idea to do a special book that was the story of the art of cinematography seen through our eyes, frankly through our experience. And because we are not historical people, we are not critic people so we can do those kind of journey in cinematography. Remembering from the first examples in imaging in cinema, through all of the film that was starting the school, particularly the Italian film school. The famous films or any other kind of famous imagery in particular, the people, the cinematographer, that really inspired us. They give to us some kind of knowledge; they give to us the view of the mystery of cinema, the one who was teaching to us any kind of little thing through visual image, through a screen. So we started to put together these names numbering 150. We gave to them two page each, meaning 300 pages plus all of the pages they need for the introduction, for the index, for those kind of things, makes the book 350 pages.


The idea was to go through the entire century in every country all around the world. So in choosing every single cinematographer that made one specific film, and practically we then selected a symbolic film for each one of them, [the film] which gave us some kind of emotion. That was the main reason at that point I called the well-known writer Bob Fischer, because I was told that he was the journalist that knows more than all of us, all about cinematography. I met him in 1980 when I received the first nomination from the Academy, and we met several times every time I was coming to Los Angeles, he was with me when we did seminars. So I knew him very well myself, so I said to Bob, “Bob, this is the chance now that you can make a book,” and I explained to him all of my concept, but we understood that together with Bob, along with another writer Lorenzo Codelli, he is mainly a film critic and is very knowledgeable. So practically I said to Bob, “Bob, you chose the 75 cinematographer that you know best, and the rest and the other 75 will be done by Lorenzo, particularly in the first half of the century which is the area probably you don’t have, you never contact with any, with those cinematographers.”


Step by step we started to put everything together by speaking on Skype with Lorenzo Codelli, Luciano Tovoli, Daniele Nannuzzi and I was interchanging emails with Bob Fischer and later with two translator, because everything Bob wrote in English was translated to Italian, everything that was written in Italian from Lorenzo was translated into English. I took for myself the idea to select specific image of each symbolic movie of each cinematographer and I tried to give those photographs a more cinematography feeling. Cinematography you know means, that you need more than one image, so because it was something that really, I love very much to do in my normal book.


So, my feeling was to have this normal still made by the photographer of the each film to be made in double vision, like sort of more the feeling of to be cinematic and also to better represent each picture. So it probably took 3 years time to do all of this on top of the work, and we had an idea to put together 20, 30 second of each films, reediting in the way those segments can give the feeling, the cinematographers’ feeling of each picture, in making it practically a new film that is just a panoramic of one century of cinematography through the eyes of the 150 different cinematographers and the 150 films. This DVD version is on the back of the book. The music was redone completely, and not only that, but it could become a big confusion going from one piece of music to another, so we had the new musician recompose the music from the beginning to the end. He had some kind of inspiration from the original composition to let it feel kind of a motif of that film, but it was totally completely redone.


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