Interview with cinematographer Lev Predan Kowarski

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

I don’t know, if I become an excellent cinematographer, you can ask me again.

  • In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?

Fred Kelemen, Bruno Delbonnel, Benoit Delhomme, Roger Deakins.

  • What makes good cinematography?

Being “invisible” to the audience, building atmosphere, visually telling the story, supporting the performances of the actors.

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

A good camera will give you what you need to get the job done, different types of films might require different cameras, depending on the circumstances.

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

The process and tools have changed somewhat, but the purpose and responsibility have not.

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

I tend to always think about a theatrical projection, if it works there, it works everywhere, unless a specific job requires me to follow a certain (different) set of rules rules. 

  • Which one is more important: light or shadow?

One cannot exist without the other. The balance between them is important.

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

I like to be very involved in the whole process from beginning to the end. It is important to feel responsible for the film as a whole.  It can only have a chance to be good if we all care about it as an indivisible work of art.

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

In my experience, when producers do not want to talk openly about the budget/possibilities, they are usually hiding something. And that is destructive.

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

Thinking is overrated. Feeling is underrated. Balance is key.