Magazine article American Cinematographer

Pro Perspective David McFarland: Be Prepared

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Pro Perspective David McFarland: Be Prepared

Article excerpt

"When you work in other countries, you have to be respectful of their culture, be malleable in your approach, and manage your expectations," offers cinematographer David McFarland.

McFarland's commercial work includes clients such as Levi's, Estéé Lauder, Adidas, Samsung, Mazda and Stella Artois -and among his documentary and feature credits, he photographed The Boy Next Door for Rob Cohen. In recent years, though, McFarland has developed a reputation as an extreme cinematographer. He shot director Sonia Nassery Cole's feature The Black Tulip [AC Sept. '10) in Afghanistan amid the daily war and violence. He is next off to Palestine for another feature, and he recently finished shooting The Sweet Requiem in India. That film took McFarland from sub-zero temperatures at 16,000' in the Himalayas to 117 degrees in New Delhi.

"The biggest thing I've learned about shooting in exotic places is to be prepared," offers McFarland. "When you're going into a place way outside of your comfort zone, you have to accept the inherent challenges - diet, weather, work ethic, living conditions - and be prepared to do things quite differently. This holds true on a lot of levels. If I try to force the 'Hollywood' way of doing things when I'm shooting in remote India or in Afghanistan, it's not going to work. You've got to learn to adapt to the crew's methods, to integrate yourself with them. It's important to understand their culture, vocabulary and methodologies, and make that all work for you Instead of against you. So I do as much research as I can before I go in order to get a better understanding of the culture and how people work and speak, so that I'm not offending. Then you just have to go along for the ride and keep a sense of humor! I really try to approach these things with an open mind and an open heart."

Such research is also crucial when going into an extreme climate. …

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