For some years I have been writing articles for Canon’s site for professional users of its digital photography and video products, Canon Professional Network (CPN). This site is a lot more than just news and advertorial about the company’s latest new releases, although that information is contained in the site too. Instead, it’s a site that “adds value” to the Canon products, and includes genuine content that you would want to read whether you were a Canon user or not. It’s great fun to produce these articles, and I’ve ended up meeting some of my personal filmmaking heroes as well as Hollywood royalty and lesser known innovators who are equally interesting. Probably the biggest name I’ve got to meet and interview is the Oscar-winning cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, who is both a total legend and amazing fun to hang out with. He never lacks interesting things to say, and our interview was about 90 minutes long – followed by drinks afterwards! One of my favourite interviewees of all has been Kevin Macdonald, whom I’ve now talked to twice thanks to CPN, first just as he was completing How I Live Now with Saoirse Ronan, and then as he was in post-production for Black Sea, with Jude Law. His film One Day in September has been one of my favourite documentaries for years, and I’ve used it frequenty as part of a class I used to teach at Ravensbourne. So meeting him in the flesh – twice – was gobsmacking.
The trip to the Berlinale in February 2015 was pretty amazing, too, where I met another cinematographic legend, Peter Zeitlinger, who has worked with the incredible Werner Herzog for over a decade, I also interviewed the lesser known but also highly influential Stefan Ciupek. Ciupek should be one of the people credited with kicking off the DSLR revolution, as he was one of the first to use one when working on Slumdog Millionaire with Anthony Dod Mantle and Danny Boyle. At the Berlinale, I interviewed Franz Lustig again, who was Kevin Macdonald’s cinematographer on How I Live Now and has some pretty strong and interesting views about digital cinematographer. Other Hollywood and TV greats I have met thanks to CPN include Shane Hurlbut, when he was working on Need for Speed, Dan Cohen, when he was completing X + Y, and Rob Goldie.
But the innovators who are pushing digital film quality into new areas have been equally revelatory. Jacques de Vos shoots broadcast-quality footage on a DSLR whilst free diving, and the amazing Alistair Lee shot the fantastic Last Great Climb in the Antarctic halfway (and all the way) up a never-before-surmounted peak. Then there was fashion photographer who also shoots designer profiles in 4K, Clive Booth, Spanish music videomaker Chino Saavedra, who works with the “Skatecam” innovator Mike Plonsky on free-wheeling videography, the underwater 3D-shooting Roberto Rinaldi, underwater whale-shooting Abraham Joffe, and Odise Rexhaj, who shot some mountain bikes in 3D and 4K for Red Bull. As you can see, I’ve written quite a few articles for CPN, and there were a couple more in the pipeline that hadn’t been published yet when I was penning this post. There are some commercial jobs that are just a pain, and you only do them for the money. Writing for CPN is definitely not one of them.