Why did veteran filmmaker Robert Richardson, the three-time Oscar winner, agree to work on a "private war", the first narrative feature directed by documentary Matthew Heineman?
He had much to do with Heineman's courage and sense of purpose, DP says. Heineman was nominated for the Oscar for his documentary film "Cartel Land," about Mexican and American border drugs. Ghost Town, which took over the crisis in Syria, was also well received. The "Private War", dated November 2, is based on the life of late journalist Marie Colvin, who died in Syria in 2012 while covering the siege of Homs.
Before reading the "Private War" scenario, Richardson – who shot movies from "JFK" to "Inglourious Basterds" to "The Hateful Eight" – watched Heineman's "Ghosts", which were not publicly released at the time,
"It had a profound emotional impact on me," he says. "Marie was frustrating, and I wanted to be a part of showing that life, but perhaps the most important thing I thought was to express her work in Syria, which is still tired today."
Although Heineman had a lot of experience in shooting war zones, shooting at the set and managing the crew of people were new to the director. The team around him was critical to the success of his documentary-narrative jump, and Richards, together with Sophie Becher's production designer, were an integral part of it.
In earlier films, Heineman served as his own DP. "Matt releases his own job," says Richardson. "That's why we talked about how and why he was composing it like him, the light he loved or not, and how prepared he was to go to take a picture."
Richardson and Heineman also talked about other artists he admired, not only in documentaries, but in photographs: James Nachtwey, Joao Silva, Alex Webb and Susan Meiselas. They watched films honored by Heineman, such as "Tangerine" and "The Florida Project" – and by Sean Baker, and made calculations for wearing neighbors.
"We collected the images and shared them," notes Richardson. "This pushed us deeper, with the aim of creating a powerful documentary look for certain parts of the film, and then copying that look in varying degrees depending on the sequence, such as Marie at home or at the award ceremony. The sequential nature of the sequence sequence is exactly those moments that affect the mind when most do not want to. "
He shot 38 days in Jordan and England. One of the technically most advanced scenes was in the tunnel that Colvin and her photographer used to move underground in Homs. Recording on Arri Alexa Minis in modern Jordan in the tunnels built by the Romans, Richardson and his team closed all natural light removal holes and then switched to the ASA 1600 film section because the long dark areas are only illuminated by actors, lights. They used Arri / Zeiss Super Speed lenses on both Steadicam and handwheels to gain a chaotic feeling but did not lose the story.
Richardson says the film is important because it gives rise to the terrible fact that genocide destroys "the whole generation". "We have to talk, and Matt was ready to make a movie about the inexhaustible," he says. "That's what made me want to work with him – a rare opportunity to work on material that becomes shorter year round."