Interview: Page (1) of 1 - 01/25/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Director of Photography Phil Parmet

By John Virata

Phil Parmet, Director of Photography of Steve Buscemi's Lonesome Jim, has shot most of the films he's worked on the traditional way. With film. In a career that spans more than 30 years, the Director of Photography/still photographer has worked with a variety of film and video formats but has recently found himself working in the DV format for Buscemi's 2005 Sundance entry, Lonesome Jim. Lonesome Jim is an 87-minute drama starring Casey Affleck, Liv Tyler, Mary Kaye Place, Kevin Corrigan and Seymour Cassel. It was shot with Panasonic AG-DVX100A mini-DV 3-CCD 24p camcorders. In addition to shooting with film, Parmet has been also working with DV for the last five years. DMN senior editor John Virata chatted with Mr. Parmet discussing a variety of DV-related subjects before Parmet left for the Sundance Film Festival. Some excerpts of the exchange are below.

DMN: How long have you been working with DV? What is the first project you completed on DV?
Phil Parmet: I shot a few things in DV over the last five years.  There were a few TV commercials and a short film on Hi-Def 24p, then two miniDV Features.  Thirteen Moons for director Alex Rockwell shot on a Sony PD-150, and this project Lonesome Jim on the Panasonic DVX100A.

DMN: You've worked with film quite a bit in the past, what led up to the decision to use DV cameras for Lonesome Jim?
PP: I certainly haven't abandoned film. The production company InDigEnt who did Lonesome Jim, does only independent, digital entertainment and they chose the format. 

DMN: Why did you go with the Panasonic cameras for this film?
PP:  InDiEnt had already done several films in this format with the DVX-100 including one which won the cinematography prize at Sundance last year.  They believed it was a vast improvement over the PD-150 and after shooting tests through a film-out I had to agree. I only asked that they get the new and improved model of the camera, the DVX-100A.

Liv Tyler plays a nurse and Lonesome Jim's love interest.

DMN: How does DV differ from that of working with film?
PP: The process of making a film remains pretty much the same irrespective of the recording media. DV has certain advantages as well as disadvantages compared to working with film. Probably the most important is the cost considerations. Aside from the actual cost of the equipment and stock, miniDV equipment being lighter and smaller than film equipment, especially 35mm, the support required in terms of manpower is a lot less. You can work in smaller spaces with fewer people. Generally, video cameras requires less light than film, not necessarily fewer units, but smaller, lighter ones. It still takes time and care if you want it to look good.

Why shoot film? Film still has a far higher resolution and a much greater dynamic range. Film registers images through a photo chemical process whereas video records images electronically and in the final analysis they create two fundamentally different aesthetics. Then there is the question of archiving the work. A black and white three color separation master of a film will last hundreds of years. Nobody really knows how long the recording media for video will last.
Have you ever had a hard disk crash?

Principle shooting for Lonesome Jim took 16 days.

DMN: How do you know when to go with DV and when to go with film?
PP: I have found that cost is the primary consideration when choosing to go with DV. I can see, however there might be other considerations, like keeping a low profile for example.

Casey Affleck stars as Lonesome Jim
DMN: How many hours of footage didn't make it into the film?
PP: I think we shot about 8-1 on a 90 min. film.  Occasionally we shot with multiple cameras.

DMN: What editing system was used to put the film together and why was that editing system used?
PP: I am not sure what system was used to edit the film, but we did the final color correction with Final Cut Pro HD and After Effects in NTSC then the film was rendered out in Hi-Def for Sundance.

DMN: Has the DV format enabled you to pursue projects that you might not have been able to pursue?
PP: The two films I did on DV would not have been shot had they not been done in DV.

DMN: Is your next project a film or DV project? What is the next project that you will be working on?
PP: My next project is a documentary style film to be shot in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. It will be shot in miniDV.
I feel very differently about DV and documentaries.

DMN: Many have called DV a technological breakthrough that has enabled those who previously wished to make a film but couldn't due to costs, make a film, albeit in the DV format. What do you feel the DV format has contributed to the craft of filmmaking and storytelling?
PP: Money and creativity are rarely found in the same room.

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at
Related Keywords:Phil Parmet, Lonesome Jim, Steve Buscemi, Panasonic DVX100A

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