|J O H N C A M P B E L L||_________________________|
To director of photography John Campbell fell the task of
visualising the magic - and the magic of the locations.|
"At first I thought about magical realism," says Campbell, who has worked extensively with Gus Van Sant, "because magic is completely integrated with realism in the film. My inspiration for the look comes from the architecture and light in Central and Latin America, so I'm not lighting it like a film noir, I'm trying to get a sense of the way that light plays on things in Latin America. Shadows, colours and smoke are just as important in their culture as light is in ours. The sun is everywhere, causing thousands of little effects.
Campbell says that he deliberately chose to shoot in Panavision, primarily because the lenses "can give you a softer, more unrealistic interpretation of light and form." Campbell admits he was entranced by the Guatemalan and Mexican locations, particularly the famous Maya pyramid at Tikal in Guatemala and the provincial colonial cities of Patzcuaro and Morelia (which doubles for Mexico City in 1950) in the state of Michoacan just west of Mexico City.
"Morelia could easily pass for Mexico City of the 1950s," says Campbell. "If you're selective the period is easy to find. It has an extraordinary patina, textured walls, fanciful architecture, gorgeous yellows and burnt orange, charcoal texturing on the walls, plus a good representation of Mexican baroque, expressed in the churches."
John Campbell is perhaps best known for his work with Gus Van Sant, having worked as director and co-director of photography on his films. "Mala Noche", "My Own Private Idaho" and "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues".
Campbell has a degree in Anthropology and originally worked as staff photographer for a Portland TV station. But he has also made a number of documentaries, including "Criminal Justice", "Moving Mountains" and "A Woman Wove It In A Basket" - his film about the life of a Yakima Indian weaver, which won the film prize from the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1990. Before shooting "Rough Magic", Campbell was director of photography on Michael Tolkin's "The New Age".
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