Accomplished cinematographers Janusz Kaminski, Phedon Papamichael, and Wally Pfister are joining together to teach their craft via the web-based Advanced Filmmaking. The three men met while making low-budget quick films for cult director Roger Corman, after which all three went on to compile an impressive number of credits, says Dan Selcke writing for A.V. Club.
Kaminski became Stephen Speilberg's favorite cinematographer, shooting Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Papamichael worked with Alexander Payne on Sideways and Nebraska. Pfister was on Christopher Nolan's team as director of photography for Inception and The Dark Knight.
Unlike normal film school courses, the more than 12 hours of video on the Advanced Filmmaking site offer interviews with high-level directors, but also with behind-the-scenes craftspeople like experienced key grips and gaffers. Some of the courses cover topics like "Equipment", "Post-Production", "Collaboration", even "Personal Life" with tips on how to maintain a good marriage while working in the film industry.
Course modules can be rented for $3.95 on Vimeo. Advanced Filmmaking will be officially announced at the Cameraimage International Festival of the Art of Cinematography, which is held in Poland each November.
Variety's Peter Caranicas explains that the Filmmaking course augments traditional education.
"We conceived Advanced Filmmaking as a way to communicate lessons that aren't normally covered in film school," says Papamichael. "In our interactions with students and young filmmakers around the world, we saw a thirst for information about other topics like successful collaboration, making good career decisions and managing your personal life."
Pfister says that the mechanics are important, but so many lessons along the way that were hard-won, insights he says he wishes he had known when he first started. Providing that insight for the next generation — a bit more cheaply and easily — is what Advanced Filmmaking is all about.
On the site itself, one module contains Instagrams by the trio with an intro sentence that says,"As Cinematographers, you can't blame us for our obsession with Instagram". They also post Instagram photos that were taken by a few friends and fellow cinematographers. Also, the video classes themselves are on the site at this time and are can be rented.
Kaminski came to the US in 1981 as a political refugee and studied filmmaking at Columbia College in Chicago and at the American Film Institute. He is a two-time Oscar winner and has been nominated six times.
Pfister began his career as a news and documentary cameraman and began narrative filmmaking after attending the American Film Institute. He is a four-time Academy Award nominee and a one-time winner for his work on Inception. Pfister was featured director on the film Transcendence.
Papamichael was born in Greece and raised in Germany. He earned an Oscar nomination for his resonant black and white photography for the film Nebraska.
Chris Gibbin, an American filmmaker, producer, and entrepreneur, works for Advanced Filmmaking. Papamichael is his producing partner, and together they have produced several feature and short films which have premiered at film festivals worldwide. His first job was production assistant for John Sayles' 1985 film Matewan. He has been responsible for the look of sets in Sleepless in Seattle and Fight Club, along with many other film and television projects.
Jaqueline Legan is a veteran of theater and film studies and has practiced her craft in New York and Los Angeles. She attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York and received a degree from the School of Theatre at the University of Southern California. She is a Producer, as is Chris Gibbin, at Advanced Filmmaking.