Today we get a cinematographer’s perspective on the Las Vegas film scene with director of photography Craig Boydston.
What kind of projects do you mostly work on?
Unfortunately at the moment it is mostly corporate stuff. I don’t mind do it but honestly I want to work on narratives, shorts and features.
What narratives have you shot?
I’ve worked on a few features but I’ve only personally shot one feature (Little Monsters). I have another, Rex ’84 coming up, but there’s not much to talk about as of yet. If you Wikipedia what Rex ’84 is then you will get a vibe of what the story will entail. I’m looking forward to it.
Do you have any cinematographers that you try to model yourself off of? Who are your favorites?
Robert Elswit would definitely be up there. Of course Deakins and all the other big names. All time favorites…I watched this really interesting documentary about Jack Cardiff who was a very early color cinematographer and his stuff is pretty fantastic.
That kind of changes. It just depends on my mood,the time of day, and when you ask me. I like films for different aspects. I’m happy there are a variety to choose from.
What is your favorite movie of 2012?
There’s definitely a few. Beasts of the Southern Wild pops to my mind right away. That was Ben Richardson. It was shot on Super 16 on super low-budget and I thought that was impressive. It was a really good movie too.
What are your plans for the future?
Hopefully with a lot of luck I’ll be making multi-million dollar feature films (laughs). I’ve applied to grad school. I hope to hear back soon. If I don’t I will probably buy a nice healthy grip package and go to LA and start shooting. I have a few friends and connections there already so I won’t be moving into a vacuum.
What would you say was your biggest challenge that you ran into on set?
Not having the right things. Working on such low budgets and not having access to specific things can be a hindrance.
Miscommunication is another big challenge.
What’s your proudest accomplishment as a cinematographer?
When you see the end result after all the hard work and preparation you put into it. During the Flock Flock Flock video we spent a lot of time set dressing, hanging cranes, and building a black backdrop with a black floor. When all that comes together and actually looks the way you were hoping.
What do you think about the whole DSLR revolution?
I think it’s a good thing. I’m getting kind of tired shooting on them because I can feel the limitations of using the cameras. I did use the Canon 1D C and it’s fantastic and I absolutely loved but I do think it is a little overpriced for what it is. It is by far the most fantastic DSLR you would ever want to use. It’s incredible slash way over-priced.
I think the format allows you to do a lot of things. A lot of features are still lacking though. On-board sound. The codec rate. You can see it when you tweak the color.
So you started off by doing G&E work in Las Vegas before deciding to go back to school to become a cinematographer. What was it like going back to film school and would you recommend someone looking to get into cinematography to do that?
Yeah. I absolutely think it helped me. Not just for what I learned but for the people I met and the friends I made. I think that’s even more important. You do have to let go of your pride when you go back to school especially after working professionally. You have to come to terms with the fact that people do know more than you on certain things. Just because you’ve done it professionally or learned those things at a different school you are still learning more from different people who have different life experiences and skill sets. They’ve developed in a different way. Even though you know a lot of the same stuff their points of view and interaction with the craft are valuable and you can learn a lot from that.
What was it like shooting your first feature film, Little Monsters?
I really enjoyed it. My one problem I had was that it was so spread apart (the movie shot on weekends) and that my consistency suffered for it. I’m very happy that Schmoeller gave me the opportunity. I definitely learned a lot from it especially about being consistent and got a lot of practice with long form movie making.
I don’t think the low budget was a problem. It was more about getting the same people there and getting into the groove of making a movie and gaining momentum. The thing that hindered me was that the shoots were a week apart and trying to get back into it and remembering where we finished and where we have to pick up from and how it is going to come together. It was a super positive experience though and if I were to do the same thing now I would do it better because of that experience.
So…film or video?
Well, my friend Adam Zielinski says that I’m a necrophiliac because I love dead things. I just sent out some film to be developed for a project I’m working on. I’m also trying to build a telecine so if any of your readers have a 16mm projector lying around I would love nothing more than to take that off their hands.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I have a lot. I have three shorts coming up within the next month. Two are one-day shoots. I have one with Nick VanDevender which will be fantastique. I also have one with Constanza Castro which will be very avant garde. I also have a regular short. Hopefully it will be edgy.
Thank you Mr. Craig Boydston for the interview and best of luck with your busy schedule coming up!