Q&A with Oliver Ledwith, Focus Puller on THE ARTIST AND THE MODEL

Q: Tell us a bit about what your job as a Focus Puller entails.

A: The Focus Puller or 1st Assistant Cameraman is the right hand man to the Director of Photography on the camera side, in charge of preparing the camera for shooting. This involves physically setting up the camera, changing lenses, adding filters and perhaps most importantly, keeping the actors in focus whilst shooting.

Although film cameras have experimented with auto focus systems over the years, they have rarely been implemented as it is important to have creative freedom over what parts of the screen are in focus, in order to direct the viewer’s attention towards those areas.

Q: What kind of training/on-the-job experience did you obtain when you first started?

A: I started out as a runner for the Camera Department in a small studio in London, learning the trade of a Clapper Loader, when shooting on film was still the norm for Commercials and Drama. In this capacity (2nd AC) you not only physically ‘load’ the film on to the camera but you assist the Focus Puller so also learn this role first hand. The physical aspect of ‘pulling focus’ I learnt from working for free on short films and practising on the job.

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MADEMOISELLE CHAMBON Interview with  Stéphane Brizé

Q: How did you discover the novel by Eric Holder upon which MADEMOISELLE CHAMBON is based?

A: I read Eric Holder’s book in 1999 and it really touched me. In particular it was the story between these two simple, pure and honest human beings but especially the silences which the author gave to his narration. It was as if Eric Holder had told me : this is what you should be able to shoot : the power of silence.

Q: Did you see its cinematic potential upon your first reading or did the idea need to gestate within you?

A: To be honest, when I discovered that book I knew at the time that as a man and as a director, I wasn’t mature enough to tackle this adaptation. Since then I had time to make several movies, see many others and to ask myself some questions. As for the man, life did its job…


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Landmark Letter by Susanne Bier IN A BETTER WORLD


"For me, just getting to attend the Oscars made me feel like a princess for a night.  I don’t think you realize how big it is for a small country like Denmark to be nominated for an Oscar.  It’s really, really big. So you feel there really is a pretty big responsibility on you, which I think is different from being nominated in the other categories, which don’t have the national pride aspect attached to them. It’s a kind of redemption that we can tell stories that really matter to the world.  Now having won the Oscar means a lot for the film.  It means a stamp of quality for a movie which is a Danish film, which is almost unknown and now has suddenly become known in a different way.

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SUGAR: Interview With Writer/Directors Anna Boden And Ryan Fleck

Jason Wood: With your follow-up film to Half Nelson was there a conscious decision to extend your sights beyond American borders?

Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck: Not really, but filmmaking is an excellent excuse for travel. Generally, we are compelled by a certain character and go wherever that character takes us.

JW: What was the starting point for the journey that Sugar undertakes? I understand that Ryan was a big baseball fan and this then led to research concerning the thousands of athletes from the Dominican Republic that go through the minor league system.

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What is the attraction of the documentary form for you?

Wim Wenders: First of all the spontaneity it allows for. All my documentaries have opened up and presented themselves to me on very short notice. And then you’re confronted with the reality of a situation, and you try to find the form for it. You “react”. Fiction usually works the other way around. You act.

Were your influences for documentary the same as fiction film or did you look to other filmmakers for inspiration?

My fictional work always included a “documentary tendency”. I was always happy to let as much “reality” as possible enter my stories. I base my work on a strong sense of place, and that applies to fictional as well as documentary films. But while I learned a lot about the language and grammar of filmmaking from the American Cinema (Ford, Mann, Ray, Fuller, Hitchcock…), I can’t really quote “documentary influences”. That is more a self-made form for me, and was initially leaning more to diary-films or essays than to “classic” documentaries. I do admire some documentary filmmakers, though. Pennebaker, Chris Marker, just to name two.

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