Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Some (Very) Brief Words with Christopher Doyle about ‘Underwater Love’

Although he’s not the film’s cinematographer, the favorable notices Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster has been receiving out of Hong Kong today have finally prompted me to post this “chat” with his famous collaborator

Given the brevity of what follows there’s quite the risk here of an introduction to a Q&A running longer than the Q&A itself; still, I feel that some set-up for the following, heretofore unpublished, exchange is necessary. It was conducted back in early 2011, just prior to Underwater Love’s world premiere at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival (hence the reference to its bow in the first question). But why are there only three questions? Well, Mr. Doyle was in Hong Kong on a shoot, and so the festival publicist arranged for me to interview both him and director Shinji Imaoka simultaneously—the problem was that the latter (for reasons still unclear to me) never answered his share of the questions, and so the follow-ups to both gentleman languished as a result. Still, I’m happy that these orphaned thoughts from a world-class film artist have found a home, however belatedly.

Oh, and please know that I’ve reproduced the text verbatim from our email exchange. Usually, like many journos, I’ll edit my long questions down to short ones and clean up the responses as needed… but in this case I fear there’d be nothing left if I did that.


Kind of appropriate that this film is bowing on Earth Day, isn't it? What can you tell us about capturing the gorgeous natural imagery in this film? Did it make you want to shoot a nature documentary at some point? ;-)

xxxxxxx all the films i have made are a response to the physical : of the space of women of the fact that i have to burden 30 kg of camera on my shoulder every day of the last twenty years / I used to call myself the keith richards of cinematography , from this film i found the pink in my irish skin

What were some unique challenges or opportunities you faced with Underwater Love in comparison to your other work?

same shit different day . wonder of student film coniditions /making true intent to do something true : its all about people , and some people are kappas with big dicks ( and that helps )

Many of the shots of water, especially those in the second half of the film, are absolutely stunning. Was all of the lyricism achieved completely intentional, or did you ever try out certain things when shooting and then were pleasantly surprised by the results?

" its society's fault " i didnt choose the locations ( someone who knows what they are doing did ) ...but as in all the films we do its my job to respond to the space and light and constraints and intents of each film .... with a bit of experience you learn from what you have ( as one does in bed ) ... you respond to a space or a working situation or the abilities of the actors and so on to make the film you can become the film you want


A contributing editor at Metro, Peter Gutiérrez also writes for Twitch, and blogs on media and pop culture for School Library Journal. And you can find him on Twitter: @Peter_Gutierrez.

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