Lawrence Daufenbach’s Interview Continued

I enjoy watching all genres of films, however I am probably most drawn to dramas and human-interest films. The types of films that make you stop and think about different aspects of culture, society, and life. From a more visual approach, dramas also tend to allow for a more artistic and creative style. As a cinematographer, this is where I can push boundaries and create certain looks for a film.

Photo by Lawrence Daufenbach

Twilight Frequencies

How did you land the job? What’s that process like?

Lawrence Daufenbach

Landing this job and landing any job in the film industry is primarily luck and being in the right place at the right time.  Michigan has been booming over the last two years, as their tax incentives have drawn a large number of films to the state.  Over the last year I had been thinking about changing my Union local address from Chicago to Michigan, since there is more of an incentive to hire Michigan locals.  When I found out about Trust in the Michigan production listings in mid October, I thought I would give Peter Kuttner a call(Peter is a Chicago First AC who I had been talking back and forth with over the last year). It just so happened that he had been hired on as the First AC (camera assistant in top position in camera department) and was looking to hire a Michigan local.  On that note, I affirmed my decision to change my Union (Local 600) address and landed the job shortly after.

Twilight Frequencies

Do you think Hollywood has hit bottom in terms of originality? In your opinion are the best sources of good film in lower budget projects?

Lawrence Daufenbach

Well they say there are only seven basic story plots, but how you reinvent each one of them is what makes each film unique.  However, there are so many factors that go into a film besides the story (actors, lighting, camera movement, production design, editing) that in my opinion it leaves endless means for originality.   It really depends on how you’re looking at a film. I may find innovative cinematography in a film that’s story is quite similar to that of another. While yes the story may be a tougher element to be original, as a whole, films will continue to evolve.

Twilight Frequencies

I believe you graduated from the University of Columbia? What was that experience like for you? Did it square you away with opportunities when you graduated?

Lawrence Daufenbach

Correction, I graduated from Columbia College Chicago, often confused with University of Columbia in New York.  However while both schools have a film program, CCC has one of the biggest, and most involved film programs in the country.  At CCC, I was in their four-year film program where I concentrated in cinematography.  Most of the classes are very hands on, which allowed me to learn both more visually and artistically.  The also have a lot of cameras and equipment, which is what a lot of other film schools are lacking.  I was happy to learn on film and work with a lot of 16mm and 35mm cameras, including Arri, Panavision, and Aaton camera systems.

There are definitely opportunities that I had coming out of college, and it was primarily because of the work that I put in at school.  The more projects you work on and the more involved you are with the film program, the more you network, and the more likely you’ll continue working.  My first feature film, Chicago Overcoat, I got onto as a film loader and I would say that was primarily because I had been working on a lot of films at Columbia and building a network of friends and co-workers.

Twilight Frequencies

What’s it like filming in Chicago?

Lawrence Daufenback

Cold, bloody cold.  No, but Chicago is a great city.  There are a lot of interesting and diverse locations.  I find there to be a certain passion and aliveness here that I haven’t found in a lot of cities.

Twilight Frequencies

What films have you written and developed?

Lawrence Daufenbach

The last short I Co-wrote and directed was in college, titled, “My Friend Leopold”.  You may be able to hunt down a low-res version on YouTube.  I do have a project that I will be developing over the next few years. However, for now I mainly spend most of my time focused on cinematography and expanding my career as a DP (director of photography).

Twilight Frequencies

Is there a particular genre of film you’re partial to, and why?

Lawrence Daufenbach

I enjoy watching all genres of films, however I am probably most drawn to dramas and human-interest films.  The types of films that make you stop and think about different aspects of culture, society, and life.  From a more visual approach, dramas also tend to allow for a more artistic and creative style.  As a cinematographer, this is where I can push boundaries and create certain looks for a film.

Twilight Frequencies

What is the one thing vital to your work on a project other than gear? Is it     communication, solid direction, a lucky charm, etc?

Lawrence Daufenbach

It’s always good to have some inspiration with any given film, commercial, etc.  While working with a director, I like to find artwork (often paintings) that help inspire a certain look, mood, or style any given film is going to have.

to be continued….

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