Budgets for major feature productions now average in the $80,000,000 range.
With such an enormous amount riding on the success of a movie (a few disastrous openings can destroy a studio), star salaries, or what they call the "above the line" talent, have climbed to $20,000,0000 and up, per picture.
The key "below the line" crew members, from the Assistant Director, the Director of Photography, the key gaffers, grips, makeup people and set designers are all chosen with great care to make sure that all the aspects that make up a movie family can work together at an incredibly high level of professionalism.
Yet one of the keys to how a movie is perceived by the theater-goer is the responsibility of one of the relatively unsung members of this family...the unit photographer.
It is the job of this photographer to capture the mood, the feel, and the nuances of the movie. It is often the photographer's work that sets the tone for the marketing campaign, provides documentation for history, and many of the photographs that are used by newspapers and magazines to promote the film.
A unit photographer shows up for work every day right behind the gaffers and grips who prepare the set. They are hovering around the camera from "call" to "wrap". Often they must ask the stars to pose for special sessions, often under great pressure, yet they keep in mind that in the totality of movie making, they are the low rung on the ladder. They have to persuade, con, and cope in difficult situations, with highly charged personalities.
It is such a difficult art, that few photographers survive more than a few projects. Those who do, are welcome on sets around the world, and have long standing relationships with the Producers, the Directors,and the stars.
One of the best is Murray Close. For the past two decades he has been on the first call list of many of the great directors and stars.
From his first job on a movie, working with Stanley Kubrick, who is considered one of the most difficult Directors to please, Murray has been a favorite of such film makers as Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, and Robin Williams.
In this exclusive mutimedia essay,
Murray gives us a rare behind the scenes look at his world.
|Feature||Camera Corner||War Stories||Dirck's Gallery||Comments|