Question about Blair Witch Project and Cinematography

Neal Fredericks, the cinematographer for the Blair Witch Project, was killed Saturday in a plane accident.

This got me thinking. IMDB trivia for the *Blair Witch Project * says that the actors filmed most of the footage, using clues provided by the director and improvising many of the scenes. So why would they need a cinematographer?

The DP will select film stocks, filters, lenses, and other equipment/accessories to define a film’s look. He also gauges the lighting conditions from shot to shot and scene to scene, making technical decisions throughout the shoot that contribute to a film’s mood and continuity. On a regular movie, the DP may be behind the camera, but not always–there are camera operators that act as vehicles on the DP’s crew to execute the vision the DP (in collaboration with the director) has for a film. Blair Witch was shot on video (color) and film (16mm B&W) so keeping a visual balance between the two was probably part of his job as well.

A sad loss. :frowning:

What ArchiveGuy said. Just because the cinematographer isn’t behind the camera (either as operator or supervisor) doesn’t mean he (usually a he) doesn’t contribute a lot of other expertise with respect to the actual shoot. In this case, he would have been responsible for maintaining the cameras, selecting the film stock, and explaining to the actors about light settings and other technical issues to make sure they’d have usable footage in the editing room. Sure would suck to spend all that time in the woods and wind up with bupkis because nobody had clearly explained to the actors how they had to film themselves. Because really, in this case, with lots of handheld work, natural lighting, and very dark woods, his knowledge would have been critical in ensuring the production of watchable footage. (Presuming you’re in my camp that “Blair Witch” represents watchable footage. Heh.)

Isn’t admitting to be the cinematographer for this movie kind of like being the artistic director behind those elephants that make paintings with their brushes?

“Yo, Mr. Cinemato-gopher, dude, what do we do with the camera in this upcoming shot?”

“Point it randomly in some direction and swing it wildly so it’s blurry.”

“That’s what you’ve said on all these shots… Now could you give us some decent food and stop jerking us around in these woods?”

“And, Heather, point it right up into your nose hair, and drip snot onto the lens.”