the road
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  • A Q&A With “The Road” Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe

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    On Tuesday, June 13, the New York Film Academy welcomed Javier Aguirresarobe to the Riverside Theater. His son, cinematographer Jon Aguirresarobe (“Hunter Gatherer”), was there to translate.

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    Aguirresarobe is a world-renowned director of photography known for his work on such great films like “The Others,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Goya’s Ghosts,” and “The Promise.” So, why did he pick “The Road,” a film from 2005, to show the students?

    Aguirresarobe shared that the book behind “The Road” was very special for him. He felt that telling this story was the perfect way to begin working in the United States. “The director (John Hillcoat) had already seen my movies at that time. So he thought I was the right one to do this movie, which he considered very special because it was the world after an apocalypse.”

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    “I asked the producer why they had picked me for the job,” Aguirresarobe said. “I could understand the director being interested, but what did the producers want me?” The producers responded that they wanted to do a more European-style movie.

    The director and cinematographer agreed that they wanted a more “realistic vibe” than a typical American film. One way they tried to achieve that look was by removing the sun. “The lack of the sun in the movie is one of the most challenging aspects of the film,” shared Aguirresarobe. But the aesthetic helped create a sense of complete and utter doom that quickly enwraps the crowd.

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    At first, Aguirresarobe was extremely troubled by this obstacle. “I was worried because I knew what kind of movie I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it.”

    He studied American films that were shot in Mexico. A lot of them had day for night shots, and Aguirresarobe played around with this to figure out the algorithm. He discovered that, back in the day, filmmakers would burn big piles of gasoline in order to create thick black clouds that could block out the sun. This is no longer a legal option, but Aguirresarobe did pitch it to the director as a joke.

    Aguirresarobe described himself as lucky to have pulled off the look. The time of year became a large factor in the shoot. The lack of greenery helped sell the idea of a dead Earth. “I wanted to respect the spirit of the book.”

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    Aguirresarobe also felt the lead actors helped cement the book’s spirit onto celluloid. “One of the best things in the movie is Viggo Mortensen. He went at the move with full energy. You can see all of that intensity on the screen.”

    Aguirresarobe joked with students that he would share a few tips and tricks, but in the age of digital, they might seem historic. This did not deter anyone in the audience. One student asked, “Can you talk about how you did that marvelous close-up on Robert Duvall in that speech and the eyes … Was that done in camera or in post-production?”

    Not missing a beat Aguirresarobe confirmed that the shot was done in camera. “Everything is done in camera. Duvall did have contact lenses to make it seem like he was blind.” Flame bars were used to get the look in the eyes. He said he learned a lot on those nights.

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    He began experimenting with real fire and the bars to create a better look. “Using the fire as a key light creates a horrible image. It creates a very intense red. The shadow gets very rough,” he said.  So he would mix the natural and the artificial to create a natural look.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank both Jon and Javier Aguirresarobe for taking the time to speak with our students about their craft. Javier Aguirresarobe’s next film is Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”

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    June 19, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 6152

  • Literary Agent Says TV is Where it’s At

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    melinda jason

    Once again, producer Tova Laiter put together an exclusive event for New York FIlm Academy students in Los Angeles. One of the toughest obstacles coming out of film or acting school is landing the right agent — or landing any agent for that matter. Given the full house at Warner Bros, Theater 4 for this event, students were anxious to get some inside information from Melinda Jason and her business partner Simon Ore. Melinda is a prominent literary agent at Conspiracy LLC – with her partner Simon Ore – a production and management company based in Los Angeles. As a former lawyer at 20th Century Fox and former Head of Literary Department at Gersh, Melinda has also established producing deals with Universal Television, Disney and Sony Pictures, and has produced five feature films. Some of the talent she is most famous for discovering are Michael J. Fox, Dean Pitchford (writer of Footloose), Ron Bass (writer of Rain Man and My Best Friend’s Wedding), and David Saperstein, whose manuscript Cocoon she sold to Fox. Melinda and Simon Ore are currently developing an animated series, several feature films, and several television pilots, including one in partnership with Producer Nick Welchsler (The Road, Requiem For A Dream, Sex, Lies & Videotape, Drugstore Cowboy).

    Melinda wasted no time in getting straight to the point, “In order to get yourself out there nowadays you have to be a great writer, get a producer, make content and create experiences!” Melinda, who has a first look deal with Fox Television, thinks television is where it’s at today. “TV is great now, it’s on a higher level intellectually, you can get your writers paid and once they are respected there they really get to show what they’ve got. These writers really think, they do research. The arch is different than in film, the characters have a lot of potential. TV is about being strategic.” Melinda clearly cares about her writers.

    Simon spoke in terms of what young writers tend to do when getting off the ground. “Sell your passion!” exclaimed Simon. “Once you are in, find the happy medium in compromising with your work.” Don’t sell out, don’t be unreasonable and inflexible.

    Melinda continued on, saying how a good writer must constantly read. “Read good stuff and bad stuff, lots of it. Go to places like www.simplyscripts.com and do the work.” Simon added that a writer needs to be patient. “Some of it is not over when you’re done. Take a break. Come back to it.”

    One thing the pair really stressed is how in today’s market, writers need to MAKE CONTENT! “Create something, put it on the internet.” However, once you get the ball rolling with credibility, it is important to know where content belongs. “Know the networks, they want different things,” said Melinda. “You have to know where content could live.”

    Her final words of advice, “You have to be really careful to never make a choice based on money. Follow your passion. You must feel strongly about it!”

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    September 27, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 8700