Interview with cinematographer Igor Pecoler

His creative path started at Secondary School of Mechanical engineering, Mechatronics and Media in Celje, where he got an opportunity to take part in a full-length film “Vloga za Emo” as a camera assistant. In high school he participated in many projects, one of them being a web television ViTV creation and later on received the first prize at Veternica contest for his film Zvestoba. As a final high school project he produced a medium-length film Zadnji krog, where he stepped into the role of a director of photography for the first time.

First he graduated in photography at Institute and Academy of multimedia in Ljubljana, where he continued his educational path and got another degree in film production. At the MUVIT film festival  he won a third prize for a short film Nadzorna plošča, and later on created another short film Pohlep. One of his most recent projects was participating in creating first indepentend web series Dualizem. After completing his education he started his own company, engaging in video production of television ads and promotional and music videos as a producer and director of photography.

In total, his whole filmography contains more than 400 projects. Some of his more relevant work includes: 

Medium-length film The Final Lap, 2015 (DOP, producer)
Short film Control Panel, 2016 (DOP)
Short film Greed, 2017 (DOP, producer)
Web series Dualism, 2018 (DOP, producer)
Feature film TIM, 2018 (DOP)
Promotional video for Spa Olimia, 2018 (DOP, producer)
Promotional video for Medical Group Fabjan, 2018 (DOP, producer)
Promotional video for Tushek Supercars, 2019 (DOP)
Promotional video for Galerija okusov, 2019 (DOP, producer)
Promotional video for Logarska dolina, 2019 (DOP)
Promotional video for občina Laško, 2019 (DOP)
TV ad Mossepic, 2017 (DOP)
TV ad Football Association of Slovenia 2018 (camera operator)
TV ad Mlinotest, 2018, 2019 (DOP) And more than 100 music videos, 2016-2019 (DOP)

  • What personality or character traits are necessary to excel in being a cinematographer/DP?

I think a great characteristics to have are to be precise and detail-oriented, hardworking and also a bit self-critical.

  • In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?

Robert Fraisse and Linus Sandgren.

  • What makes good cinematography?

In my opinion, the key to success are good lightning and details (props and scenography), along with thorough preparations, ie. planning and location scouting – I always visualize the project outcome when location scouting. My golden rule is “less is more”; you don’t need the best equipment if you’re at least a bit witty.  

  • What makes a good camera? And what has been your favorite camera to use?

Camera is only a tool to work with. I believe everyone in cinematography should start their career working with poor equipment – simply to learn how to get the best out of the worst. With professional experience you expand your knowledge, and that’s when you should also upgrade your gear. That way you can properly learn how to do the maximum best with any kind of equipment you get to work with.

  • Do you think that cinematographer’s work has changed when movies went from film to digital?

Yes, the work has definitely changed, mostly the aspect of depth of the field. Working with smaller values of blinds consequentially produced huge amounts of advantages in lightning – meaning trucks full of lights aren’t required anymore. The technology goes further day by day.  

  • Now that people watch films on TV, computers and even their phones, do you think about that end experience when you are shooting?

This is a very good question. The answer would be yes, I’ve come across multiple situations thinking about it. It happens quite frequently on a set, when we (me and director) are trying to position a certain shot, usually when we’re shooting an emotional scene.

  • Which one is more important: light or shadow?

It goes one with another, I can’t say what’s more important. Both are equally important.

  • What is the cinematographer’s involvement in pre-production, production and post-production?

In pre-production alone, the director of photography’s involvement is the most important. Initially director of photography and the director discuss the style of cinematography, framing, locations, etc. Engaging the director of photography in location scouting is important from the aspect of visualizing individual scenes shot on different locations. Half of the final product is created in pre-production phase alone.

The person I most cooperate with on a set is the director. We help and counsel each other, and we both do our best to keep the project on the same level we imagined it to be. In post-production, director of photography’s job is to control the color grading of the film. Though I admit, I also always want to take place in montage and tell my honest opinion. I think that, in the end, we (the whole team) should all be satisfied with the final product. 

  • What involvement in the production budget does the cinematographer/DP have?

Usually I want to be informed about the production budget at the beginning of every project, out of simple reason: so when it comes to, e.g. location scouting, I already know approximately what I am able to afford, and if I don’t have enough budget, how will I manage certain things otherwise. Director of photography can have an important role with budget consumption, so good communication and adaptability between producers and director of photography are crucial.

  • What is your most valuable advice for being a Cinematographer/DP?

My advice is to do your job with your heart and soul, and foremost, do it for yourself. Be self-critical enough and remember that you are the first person that should be satisfied with your work. When you will believe in it, others will, too.