Keepers of the Magic
Seeing through the eyes of the world's best cinematographers
How do the world's leading cameramen capture the perfect shot? What does it take to make an audience swoon before the silver screen? Masters of the craft explore their relationship with the moving image. Featuring interviews with the visionaries behind 'The Godfather', 'Apocalypse Now', 'City of God' and many more, this doc is a breathtaking behind-the-scenes look at the visual magic at the heart of cinema's most iconic moments.
Following years of successful filmmaking, the visual geniuses behind some of cinema’s most memorable images move from anecdote to anecdote as they discuss their life’s work. On colour, differences of opinion abound: “colour is so often a distraction, and is so often used as a confection”, argues Deakins, while Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now) refers to a “kind of philosophic concept of colour” that he drew on throughout his work.
Full of provocative contrasts and emotive tones, natural light, meanwhile, is every cinematographer’s dream. “Natural light, it’s the inspiration for filming”, confirms Cesar Charlone (The Constant Gardener, City of God). Yet with scenes that require hours and even days to create, filming during the little time that dawn and dusk allows presents filmmakers with a constant challenge. “I had a whole plan of all the shots and the time of day that I wanted to shoot them”, says Deakins of a 23-shot sequence from No Country for Old Men.
Moving onto another crucial facet of filmmaking, John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road, The English Patient) ruminates on director-cinematographer relationships. During rehearsals, particularly with child actors, Seale reveals that “we’ve often just given each other a nudge and a wink, and okay, we’ll roll on it”. He describes the "lucky accidents" from which some of cinema's most iconic shots have emerged.
Though being the sole guardian of the image - before the screen monitor was invented - held a momentous responsibility for the cinematographer, “the rushes in the early days were so exciting”, says Seale. He recalls when the whole crew would gather together in the screening room to see how their shots had turned out. Now, however, “everyone can see whether it works or doesn’t work, and that changes relationships”, says Charlone.
From the first screen monitors to the game-changing developments in post-production taking over from on-set work, there is no doubt that the filmmaking process has evolved over time. Yet, as Storaro affirms, “whatever tools we’re using, there is something that cannot be changed: the idea”.
Keepers of the Magic is both an eye-opening introduction to cinematography, and every film buff’s dream.
Reviews and More
“This is a collection of artistic giants and their anecdotes provide a master class for film lovers.” – Hawaii Film Critics Society
“The film functions as a wonderful primer for anyone curious about just how a cinematographer operates on a set.” – Midwest Film Journal
"The glowing interior of the Jupiter-bound spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey; the haunting suburban streetside in The Exorcist; the forbidding and seemingly endless frontier in The Revenant..." These are just some of the cinematic images the film explores. – CBC News
Listen to an interview with director Vic Sarin, here.
Vancouver International Film Festival - Official Selection
International Film Festival of India - Official Selection
Beverly Hills Film Festival - Official Selection
Sedona Film Festival - Official Selection
Maui Film Festival - Documentary Feature World Cinema Award
Darwin International Film Festival - Official Selection
Heartland Film Festival - Official Selection
Denver Film Festival - Official Selection
Liverpool International Film Festival - Official Selection