Interview with cinematographer Marco Padoan

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

Ability to communicate with people,  being a politician and have the ability to see your crew. Humble and ready to listen. Support your director. 

  • In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?

A couple of true masters. Darius Khondji is someone who inspired me since young age. His contrast and use of colours. Greg Toland of course, incredible, he effect me to my core. And Vittorio Storaro, because Vittorio Storaro. 

  • What makes good cinematography?

Good cinematography for me is telling the story. The images enhances the story through lighting and composition, by following the emotions of the characters. 

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

A good camera is the one that shoots the film.  But a camera that capture skin tones and tonality with the best possible way 

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

Well, mostly, the discipline in pre production, production and post has changed dramatically, I think. For instance how the post production on the image have gone from being something for the cinematographer-director-collaboration to something of a committee with all possibilities of digital colour correction, where changes are made sometimes from people that maybe have less experience in that specific field. But the very positive side of the digital era is how it have made more creators to make films. It’s a democratisation of the medium and we can now see films that weren’t able to be made before because of cost. And we now have a bigger platform of screening which makes the distribution easier and more available. But I miss seeing films in a theatre, in the dark. 🙂 

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

Of course. The screen size affects how I frame a shot. But that has always been the case in the era of television. For me, watching a film on a phone is laziness, when we have 50”tvs around every corner. 

  • Which one is more important: light or shadow? 

Well, you can’t have one without the other. 

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

The involvement is crucial in all of the steps mentioned. As a cinematographer you are a co-author of the film. 

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

When it comes to equipment, the budget is often the deciding factor. So when I know the budget, I know the limitations, or  possibilities. So I have discussions with the director about the feel and look of the film. I then talk to the producer and explain what I need to be able to meet the directors vision. Then, when budget are more and more tight, it comes down to compromising and finding solutions. Maybe I prioritise light before big camera package. It’s an art form in itself, that people help you with.  

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

Be passionate about your work.