Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dion Beebe (thanks Jack)

This is the last of the four names that Jack gave me on 12 June.

I have no idea who it is. I hope it's not a music person.

It's a....

Cinematographer.

Why did Jack give me two cinematographers?

Actually, yesterday he saw who I was writing about and randomly revealed how he got the names. He said he got them from a list on a website about the Emmy's. Why would Stevie Plunder be on it? And Gough Whitlam? I don't remember seeing that Donald McAlpine had ever won an Emmy. Maybe he did, and I forgot.

I don't know.

I personally think Jack's memory might be a bit confused. This did happen almost three months ago.

Jack does have a good memory though.....

Oh well.

Lord Wiki says baby Dion was born in 1968 in Brisbane. In 1972, the family moved to South Africa. That sounds a bit like Mem Fox's life.

Beebe returned to Australia eventually. In the late 1980's, he went to the Australian Film Television and Radio School. This is that program that Gough Whitlam had helped bring to fruition.

Lord Wiki lists some of the movies that Beebe has made. I'll name the ones I've heard of.

Holy Smoke (I actually forgot what that was, so I had to look it up. It's the movie with Kate Winslet)
Chicago (this seems to be his first American film)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Lord Wiki says this earned Beebe the Academy Award for best Cinematographer)
Miami Vice
Well, that's it for Lord Wiki. His entry on Dion Beebe is very short.

Now I'll go look at IMDb.

The trivia page for Beebe says he and his wife have their own production company. It's called Deep Blue Pacific. I don't think it has a website yet.

Either his mom or dad was a make-up artist in South Africa.

He has four brothers.

IMDb has a much more complete list of movies.

The first movie that Beebe did was a short film called Black Sorrow. He did this in 1989. He'd be about twenty-one. The movie was a thriller about a psychiatrist. It sounds interesting.

The movie was written and directed by Anton Beebe. I'm guessing that's one of Dion Beebe's brothers. Anton hasn't done much work. It seems the Dion brother has had more success in film.

In 1992, Beebe did a movie filmed in New Zealand. This was called Crush.

In 1994, Beebe worked on a documentary about that homeless guy who kept writing Eternity everywhere. I should add that guy to my list.

Well, I'm not going to sit here and list all the movies.

I'll just skip ahead to the the new movies.

Beebe was cinematographer for Land of the Lost.

He's the cinematographer for the upcoming musical Nine. This is coming out late November. Nicole Kidman is in it.

And Beebe is the cinematographer for The Green Lantern. That's not coming out until 2011.

I'm looking at the award page now. As for Oscars, he won for Memoirs of a Geisha. He received a nomination for Chicago. Road to Perdition is the movie that won that year. I don't even remember it. It starred Tom Hanks and Jude Law. How can I forget a movie starring them?

Beebe has won three awards from The Australian Cinematography Society. In 1996, he won an award for Down Rusty Down, a short film made by the guy who directed The Painted Veil.

In 1998, he won for a drug movie called Praise. This was also made by the Painted Veil guy. I guess he and Beebe enjoy working together.

In 2003, Beebe won for a Jane Campion movie....In the Cut.

I'm going to see if I can find some interviews or something.

The website of the International Cinematographer's Guild has an interview.

It's his mother who was the make-up artist. Daddy Beebe was a dentist. His mother didn't work in movies. She worked with fashion advertising.

In high school, Beebe started with still photography, and them moved to cinematography. That's the route McAlpine took as well.

Beebe did a year of study at a South African University. Then he moved back to Australia to go to The Australian Film Television Radio School. Two of his student films won awards. That's pretty impressive.

In 1998, Beebe and his wife moved to Los Angeles. His first American project was a movie for Showtime called My Own Country. It sounds like a good movie. Naveen Andrews is the star. He plays an Indian doctor who moves to Tennessee to work with AIDS patients.

Beebe's family moved to South Africa because his mother was South African. They had family there.

Beebe says his brother went to film school in Sydney. So, I guess Beebe followed him.

Beebe says their family didn't have a television when he was a child. Instead, they'd rent 16 mm film and watch them on the walls every Sunday night. That's pretty cool. My family DID have a TV, but we'd watch our home movies on the wall. I used to love that. I think we all did. I love the sound of the movie projector. It's much easier to make movies and watch them these days. But there was something so special about the movie projector days.

Actually, it's NOT that easy to watch videos these days. The problem is technology keeps changing. I have all these videos I can't watch now because the camera to put it in is broken. I was thinking of buying a new camera just so I can watch old videos. It's probably easier to just get the videos transformed to DVD. I need to do that....someday.

Although what's the point? I can get all these video tapes transfered to DVD. Who knows if DVD's will be around ten years from now? They might be almost obsolete as well.

Beebe says he was the only full-time cinematographer student at AFTRS. This was great for him because so many of the students asked him to film their movies. He got lots of practice!

When Beebe finished school, he went to work for a company that produced music videos. A couple of years after that, he got to work on his first feature film. This was the movie made in New Zealand. Beebe was only twenty-four. He says, I was a 24-year-old Australian shooting my first film in New Zealand. Of course, everyone there was thinking, who the hell is this guy, and why is he shooting one of our movies? It was a little tense on the set at times. Well, hopefully they were at least a little nice to him.

Beebe doesn't just do movies. He does commercials as well. He likes it. He says, It’s a great opportunity to work with new directors on short projects. You can check each other out and get a sense of their visual language. There’s a huge advantage in watching how different people handle lighting and cameras and how they interact on the set.

That's a good point. I wonder what kind of commercials he has made.


The rest of the interview deals with the actual cinematography stuff. It's kind of hard for me to write about cinematographers because I'm not quite sure exactly what they do. Well, yeah...I know they are the ones that FILM the movie. But see, I'm not sure which decisions belong to them, and which decisions belong to the director, set designer, editor, make-up artist, etc.

When I made my own little home movies, I would do most of the filming. However, sometimes I'd have other people film for a short time. I feel the filming part mattered much less than the editing. I think editing is the big thing. With my movies though, I was also the director. I chose what would be in the film. If I had a separate director, which choices would be mine? What could I take credit for?

Oy....(see my Jewishness slipping out). Jack and I just sat here and watched a bunch of my movies on YouTube. I always get slightly depressed when I watch them. I feel guilty for not continuing to make any. I feel I was pretty good at it, although it's hard to see that from the YouTube videos. They come out all blurry. I'm not sure why that happens. I think it's something to do with the conversion process. When we take movies directly from the digital camera, the picture comes out nice and clear.

Anyway, I feel quite down when I look at work I did in the past. This includes my movies, screenplays, novels, etc. I should just look at them and say That's great I did that. It's great that I love some of my work. I should probably be HAPPY. But instead I mostly feel regret. The book and screenplay stuff is a little less sad. With the movies, there's also a sense of guilt over the whole preserving memory stuff. What I tell myself though is that although the edited montage movies are fun to watch, they're not so great in terms of memories. Most of the dialogue is cut out. In the long run, raw footage is probably better. Jack and I LOVE watching this video from when he was three, and it's been edited very little.

Okay. I'm feeling a little better now.

Back to Beebe......

Actually, I don't feel like writing much. We're all going to eat breakfast soon.

I do want to maybe watch a clip from Memoirs of a Geisha. I'll really have no idea what beauty comes from Beebe, and what comes from the actors, directors, make-up movie, music, special effects, the landscape itself, etc. But I want to watch it anyway.

Personally, I think the music is the most impressive part of the scene.

I think the main thing I can learn from writing about a cinematographer is that film is such a collaboratives project. There are so many important factors. I really don't think one is more important than the other. In a way, I think it's foolish to give out a bunch of individual movie awards. Maybe instead of saying best screenwriter, best actor, best director, best cinematographer, best musical score, etc.....there should be just best picture. That award show would probably be way too short. We can fill the time with Rob Lowe dancing with Disney princesses. I know Snow White didn't work out well, but how about Princess Jasmine? They could also have awards for various types of movies: Best science fiction film, best musical, best drama, best biographical film, best animated feature, etc.

Anyway, I'm going to go and eat breakfast.

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