Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Master Class with Pierre Lhomme

The legendary French master of cinematography Pierre Lhomme, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award “Golden Camera 300” at the 38th ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, talked about his film work in the small hall of the Center for Culture. The talk with Lhomme was led by the English filmologist Nigel Walters.

-To be a cinematographer is a serious job and is no joke because the people who are included in making films invest their whole life in it, and here I don’t only think about cinematographers, but also about directors, actors, editors, producers, and all these aren’t filmmakers, but they are cinemamakers.

Lhomme explained that if you want to work with making films you have to know the most important part, and that is the camera. Although he was interested in music at the start, especially jazz, he realized he had no such talent and enthusiastically committed himself to the film camera, shooting documentaries through Paris at the beginning, for that in the present time he had become one of film history’s most significant cinematographers.

The moderator Walters started the talk with Lhomme with the studies in Paris, and he spoke of his love for jazz music and the first leave to the USA in 1947 and the encounter with the American musicians. The interest in film, but also in architecture appeared later.

Talking about his notable works, Lhomme took some time to talk on the shooting of the film “Army of Shadows” by director Jean-Pierre Melville. In terms of the work with Melville, he said that he was a tough man and that he can be compared to the photographies of Henri Bresson, when he would work with actors.

The most important characteristic in the work with Melville was the usage of silence in emphasizing the emotions of the characters and the quality of the mise-en-scène. Lhomme also emphasizes the linking of sound and music with photography, i.e. film takes, because the sound and the music are an important segment of the quality of the film achievement. By sound he often also understands the silence used in the film takes.

On the question by the moderator Walters of what was the collaboration with the English crew of the film “Maurice” by the director James Ivory like, Lhomme said that he had concluded that a large part of the French have a Mediterranean character, whereas the English have a Queen, and he also added that while shooting the film they had some gentlemen conflicts.

“It is no secret – film is a collective work and to make a great film you have to have good communication and collaboration with the crew” – concluded Pierre Lhomme.