Magazine article American Cinematographer

Asc Close-Up

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Asc Close-Up

Article excerpt

Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC

When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I saw a black-and-white Disney short that terrorized me. Later, I saw La belle et la bête [Beauty and the Beast] by Jean Cocteau, which enchanted me at the time and still does today.

Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?

Past: Edward Tissé; Eugène Shuftan; Gregg Toland, ASC; Henri Alekan, AFC; Katsuo Miyagawa, and Gianni di Venanzo. Present: Néstor Alméndros, ASC (I cannot put his name in the "past"); Bob Richardson, ASC; Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC; Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC; Cesar Charlone, ABC; Bruno Nuytten; Jean François Robin; Huai-en Chen, and all the others, because I'm always amazed by other cinematographers' work and don't understand how they do it.

What sparked your interest in photography?

La belle et la bête, photographed by Henri Alekan.

Where did you train and/or study?

The Vaugirard film school in Paris.

Who were your early teachers or mentors?

Néstor Alméndros, for whom I worked as a loader and a 1st AC. Even during the most apparently banal conversation with Néstor, you'd learn more about cinematography than you could through years in a film school.

What are some of your key artistic influences?

The paintings of Pierro della Francesca; the photographic works of Sarah Moon; German Expressionism; the paintings of the French 18th-century school (actually, everything in the Louvre, which visited every Sunday for years, religiously); Marivaux's La Dispute on stage, directed by Patrice Chereau; and films by Sergeï Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, Kenji Mizoguchi, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and so many others....

How did you get your first break in the business?

A young director called Guy Gilles. I helped Guy shoot a short directed by a friend of his, and Guy subsequently asked me to shoot his following features. …

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