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  • Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • For me, contrast is like another character in the film a role which is played by the cinematography

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "When I work with a Director, Production Designer or a Costume Designer, I have a tendency to make them put less color in front of the camera. I filter color. I try to select colors very carefully. I believe that colors are there for a reason and they need to have a visual coherence. Thats perhaps why I started to use a kind of ENR color process right from the start of my lighting career"- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "This laboratory process that I apply to the positive film the treatment has become a part of me. I dont even think of it as a process. For others its a special treatment, but for me its very normal"

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "I flashed the negative in Delicatessen 1/8 or with warm gel or blue gel according to the scene or to lower the level of contrast. Flashing the negative is a slow process and you have to want the effect of it. It can be seductive,

    if you do too little, it doesnt show and if you do too much, it flattens the negative"- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "I shot 80% of Delicatessen on Kodak 100T 5248 with the skipped bleach bypass process with accelerator, because I wanted to have a very crisp, hyper realistic look, so you could almost touch the texture"- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "In the skipped bleach (Bleach Bypass) process you put the silver back on the film. That layer of silver gives an opacity to the black. Where the ENR process is a mixture of color and black and white printing processes, which can vary how much color you leave, the bleach bypass process leaves the silver on it which gives you a very black and white process. It drains the color a lot where as the ENR process gives you the contrast, the nice blacks you want"- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "The direction of the light on characters is one of the most important elements in my work if not the most important. The direction of the light counts more for me then its hardness, or softness. Direction is what gives soul to the light, and to the character. The angle can be completely frontal, which I dont do too often, or completely backlit, rendering a silhouette. Another approach is hard three-quarter rim lighting matched by a very soft side lighting from the other side. Classic side lighting is also very beautiful. There are so many variations"- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "Too often lighting is where it should be"- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "I light faces very softly and indirectly, with fluorescents. Even when the light is coming from the side, the quality of the light is very soft; it fills.

    Ill soften everything but I still need the structure of the blacks- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "Thats one of the things I like about film; you can really make a statement by underexposing or overexposing your negative. I know some cinematographers prefer to shoot, light and expose film normally and then color it all in the DI.

    I respect that, but Im the opposite- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "Gordon Willis ASC was very important to me and still is. Every time I watch any of Gordons films its a major modern thing for me in photography and hes always there in everything I do

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "In addition to ENR printing techniques, I use the Varicon a contrast control system - which allows you to flash the negative with color tones as you shoot. This enables me to soften the contrast and to play with the colors.

    For example, if I am lighting a scene with warm golden tones, I may not want the shadows to be as black as ENR tends to make them so I flash the film blue to give the shadows an ashy charcoal quality, and push the negative a stop to saturate the remaining colors.

    Combining techniques like ENR and flashing gives me real control over color and contrast- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "I believe that its good for actors to be in the dark and not always to be lit brightly when they deliver a line- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "For Glutony there was greasy, white paper in front of the windows, with HMIs rigged to pierce the white layers of diffusion and to filter little bits of light into the room. I was shooting at a very low light level and I had put small pieces of white and silver cards hidden in the corners. I constantly renewed the batteries of the actors flashlights to ensure their brightness and had them hit the white and silver cards which bounced the lights back at them. The rest was done with a little bit of smoke in the rooms and some practicals, which were almost dead. The exterior HMIs were balanced for daylight and I put a 159 straw gel on them, just to get the magenta out- Darius Khondji AFC- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "For me the Glutony scene was about darkness. The room itself was underexposed, but we would overexpose the flashlight beamsto really pick them up, although they were already two to three stops over the room. To have them fill the room a bit, I put bounce cards here and there in the corners and on the floor. I tried using reflector cards but the look was too vulgar- Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "Production Designers know me now for adding practicals in scenes. Im very demanding on what I term points of light. I put points of light even in day scenes. I always feel that there are darker corners in day scenes where its interesting to have practicals for color contrast with cooler daylight

    For me a practical is usually orange with a to full CTO or a very cool green. The contrast of color for me is just as importantas the contrast of the light intensity

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • "We would use Kino Flos as backlight a very soft line of light and Chinese lanterns as top light, our key light. We used that combination often, with one and a half stops to two and a half stops difference between key and fill

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • A lot of Cinematographers will talk about Vermeer or Caravaggio as influences. I tend to be more inspired by pictures with less obvious lighting themes.

    One of my Bibles is Robert Franks The Americans. I take it with me whenever I travel - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • I always lit the rainy exteriors with two big sources from above. I backlit the rain with a very cold color, just to enhance it slightly

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • We shot tests for about 4 days, looked at the results and then reshot some tests. I explored how far I could go in underexposing and investigated certain questions;

    what is the reality of the key light, an underexposed key light or top light? How bright can you go, how dark can you go with dark skin? Do we have to make it shiny or can we light it without making it black?

    - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • The location was quite difficult to light and we were depending on a whole row of HMIs on the other side of the building to light through our windows. We shot it brutally, with no sophistication and the only available light was coming from way outside. I had no way of diffusing or reflecting light and the HMIs flooded into the rooms wherever they could reach.The rest was done with some Kinos in the hallway ceilings, just enough to see by. I added green to the daylight balanced lights,even adding green onto tungsten lights - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • Kino Flos are one of the best lights, and one of my favorites. However, Kinos have such a naturally glamorous quality that they sometimes give off too nice a glow. In some movies you can feel that the actors are lit with Kinos and I try to avoid that. You haveto be careful to give those lights some grit, some realness. You have to put things between the Kinos and the faces, or put the Kinos at an edgy angle so they look as if they are naturally surrounding the actors - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • I always add a little color in my way of lighting. I work the color on the set and take some of it away in the treatment - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • We designed the sequence to combine wide shots with close shots, and gliding steadicam shots with brutal shots - not steadicam, just the operator running with the camera. I held a second camera myself and I occasionally would literally throw myself on the floor with the camera. So we were mixing Steadicam shots with locked-off shots and dolly moves. This constant mlange helps give the scene its rhythm - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

    We wanted to have this tough, handheld image mixed with some steadicam in the spirit of the French Connection, but also stylized and scary with spiritual lighting, like Klute. Those inspirations, mixed with Robert Franks The Americans led us to shoot in Super 35mm instead of Anamorphic because we wanted this incredibly free camera. We wanted to use the wide frame, so even in the tight inner city locations we could have two close ups at the same time, but we also wanted to be able to move the camera in any direction, at any time, without the heaviness of Cinemascope. We wanted the camera to float

  • More and more, I just prefer to use the real daylight. I use the skylight as a top light, then negative fill to create contrast. For me this is much more effective then using artificial light - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • The idea of having light fall onto faces from above was inspired by the work of Gordon Willis. My light is often 2 2 stops underexposed; its very slight, but you can feel that there is something drizzling onto the faces

    from above. Willis did it differently, using strong light boxes overhead - Darius Khondji AFC, ASC

  • Being unde