Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski Talks WAR HORSE, Film vs. Digital, Harmony Korine’s SPRING BREAKERS, and More

     December 22, 2011

Janusz Kaminski WAR HORSE Interview slice

If you’re a film nerd, you immediately recognize the name Janusz Kaminski. That’s because as the director of photography on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, War of the Worlds, Jerry Maguire, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Schindler’s List, Catch Me If You Can, and so many other great movies, Kaminski has clearly demonstrated that he’s one of the best cinematographers in the world. So when I was offered the chance to interview him at the New York City press junket for director Steven Spielberg‘s fantastic new movie, War Horse, I jumped at the chance.

During the interview he talked about how he picks his projects, if the location where a movie is being made influences him, his thoughts on film vs. digital, the difficulty of setting up a scene when a horse is a major character, and I tried to get him to talk about Lincoln.  However, while he wouldn’t say much on Lincoln, he did say his next project will be Harmony Korine‘s Spring Breakers.  Hit the jump to watch.

Finally, for those unfamiliar with War Horse, it’s based on the Award winning play (which is based on Michael Morpurgo’s book) and set during World War I. The film tells the story of “the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert (Jeremy Irvine), who tames and trains him.”  And don’t just take my word for it, early screenings have been very positive and the drama is heading into Oscar season with very positive buzz, especially after the National Board of review named War Horseone of the best 10 films of the year.  The film also stars Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Toby Kebbell.  You can watch the trailer here, here’s seven clips, and here’s my interview with Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and screenwriter Richard Curtis. War Horse opens Christmas Day.

Janusz Kaminski

  • 0:30 – Kaminski picks projects based on the script and the director.  He cites James L. Brooks’ How Do You Know and Judd Apatow’s Funny People.
  • 3:00 – He prefers to work in Los Angeles to stay close to his family.
  • 4:10 – Kaminski prefers to film to digital, because film produces a better image.  However, shooting in digital allows for more direct “ownership of the image.”
  • 5:50 – He has limited experience with digital, but the idea appeals to him in some ways.
  • 6:45 – Talks about the difficulty of setting up a scene when a horse is a major character.
  • 8:50 – He is not at liberty to talk about Lincoln, but says his next movie will be Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers.


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