The Artist’s Process:
Section of interview with Derek Cianfrance, Director and Co-Writer of The Place Beyond The Pines (courtesy of Alliance Films)
- Interviewer: Let’s talk about your design team.
- … The DP (Director of Photography) was Sean Bobbitt. I originally had planned on using Andrij Parekh who did BLUE VALENTINE, but he had this vision one night that he was going to die if he did PINES and so he dropped out. I’m not kidding. So I met a number of DPs and when I met with Sean, he was telling me things about his process, the way he approaches his work and how he prefers using handheld cameras and natural lighting, and his theories on camera movement, etc. I had come to find out that Sean was a war photographer and I asked him if he thought he was going to die doing Pines and he said, “No, he had been to war many times.” He was just fearless and he helped us all be fearless in the film. We knew the first shot of this film should be an epic shot. It should take us, like a dream, from the space of Luke’s trailer, through a working fairground, and into a circus tent where HANDSOME LUKE AND THE HEARTTHROBS would begin riding their motorcycles in a metal globe of death upside down. And Sean had wanted to go inside of that globe (where the motorcycle riders race). He suited up in armor and we did the whole 5 minute shot and he went in the center of the globe and it was a beautiful shot and I’m watching the monitor and I hear a crash. The monitor that I’m looking at goes fuzzy and I look over at the globe and I see Sean on the bottom of a pile of 3 motorcycles. He was run over. The paramedics run in and everyone’s asking if he’s ok. Sean gets up and he’s not okay – he’s angry he didn’t get the shot!! And he says, “Let’s do it again.” And I said, “Sean, don’t do it again.” And he said, “I’m doing it again. We must get this shot and go to the center of it.” So we went back, filmed from the trailer all the way into the center of the globe of death, and again at the same exact moment, the monitor goes static and I look up to find Sean under a pile of motorcycles again. This time he was even more shaken up and even angrier at himself for not getting the shot. We cancelled the shoot for that night. Then later, at around 3AM, Sean woke up in the hotel and didn’t know what country he was in. So we took him to the emergency room and he had a concussion. And the next night we did it again, and I forced him not go inside, but he is a warrior. To me, Bobbitt has such a strong composition and I wanted this to be like a story book. Like flipping through the pages of a mythical storybook.