Poland’s annual cinematography festival, Plus Camerimage, is currently celebrating its 20th year and ComingSoon.net is on location all this week covering from the city of Bydgoszcz. Today, we’re bringing you a special interview with actor Keanu Reeves, the host of the recent documentary Side By Side. Along with by director, Chris Kenneally and producer Justin Szlas, Reeves discusses the trio’s look at the changing landscape of filmmaking and the pros and cons of entering an increasingly digital world.
Begun at Camerimage two years ago, Side By Side boasts interviews with filmmakers like James Cameron, David Fincher, George Lucas, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle and many more.
Reeves, a budding director himself, also talks a bit about his debut project, Man of Thai Chi, which recently completed production in China. Check out the full interview below and check back throughout the week for more from Camerimage.
Q: Keanu, coming off of “Side By Side” and its discussion about celluloid versus digital filmmaking and going into your directorial debut, which format did you choose to go with?
Q: Do you find that the role of the cinematographer is evolving with the increase in digital technology?
Chris Kenneally: Yeah. With digital, the power of the cinematographer or DP has shifted a little bit. They used to be the only person on the set who knew exactly what image they were going to capture on film. Now, with digital, you’re able to monitor very closely what you’re shooting and you can see it while you’re shooting it and everyone else on the set can see it while you’re shooting it. Also, after the image goes into post-production, there’s more ways to manipulate it and more people that can get involved and have a say in it. The DP has to really get in there and make sure they’re involved all the way down the whole length of the image chain.
Reeves: But that may mean the end of the cinematographer.
Kenneally: It seems like there will, hopefully, always be someone involved in that role to care and be concerned about the image.
Reeves: It’s about knowing what image you are capturing. They kind of bring in the history, the take and the aesthetic as well.
Kenneally: Yeah, it’s one of those jobs that is very technical as well as artistic. I think that’s really what interested us a lot about this subject. It’s where those two worlds meet. These are the digital artists. These cinematographers are the Da Vincis and Michelangelos of our modern day. It’s having someone able to reach over their shoulder and say, “Hey, change the color of that painting.” That’s what’s kind of dangerous about what’s going on now. Hopefully that’s not what’s going to happen.
Q: Keanu, how important would you say your experiences making “Side By Side” were to filming “Man of Thai Chi”?
Q: In “Side By Side,” there’s a number of genuinely surprising facts about digital filmmaking. Can you each explain what you were most fascinated to learn while making the documentary?
Justin Szlasa: Yeah, I kind of agree with you. Anthony Dod Mantle and the things he did with Danny Boyle, as he refers to in the film, the balance of power on a film set and the way a film set kind of operates and the way the roles work, he’s able to, through digital cameras and digital technology, change that way of working. And that’s a way of working that has been established for 100 years in terms of roles and how a set operates. He was kind of able to break that down and totally change that. He loves that shift. He loves being able to make people do things differently and shift the power on set and get shots and angles that he would never have had a chance to do. What it really means is getting images that you’ve never had a chance to get. I think that that’s something that is profound and that’s what Danny and Anthony Dod Mantle were doing with “Slumdog,” for example. I think that that’s really what became enabled.
Reeves: For me, it was about the archival. That there’s really no way to standardize an effective way of keeping a digital archive going. I didn’t quite know the extent of that and that, for me, was the biggest surprise.
Q: Keanu, what does the digital versus film debate mean for you as an actor?
Q: Because technology is moving so fast, how hard was it to keep up with major innovations during the making of “Side By Side”?
Q: How do you each think digital is going to affect the notion of quality versus quantity in filmmaking?
(Photo Credit: Newspix.pl /WENN.com)