Filmmaking is magical and I'm attracted to it: Andrij Parekh
Mumbai: Cinematographer-turned-director Andrij Parekh believes there is something "magical" about filmmaking as it captures the beauty of a moment on camera to be shared with hundreds of people around the world.
Parekh, who is of Ukrainian and Indian descent, is a well-known name in Hollywood's indie scene, having worked on half a dozen films and now that he has taken a plunge into direction with HBO's "Succession", he believes he is ready for the next big step.
Ryan Gosling's 2006 film "Half Nelson" was the first feature film Parekh shot as a cinematographer and he followed it up with cult hit "Blue Valentine", "It's Kind of a Funny Story" and "The Zookeeper's Wife".
He recalled how he took a trip around the world with a still camera. His favourite of all the moments he captured was a time-lapse shot of Taj Mahal.
"I started my journey by taking a trip around the world during a one-year hiatus from university with a still camera, and then visited India with a Super-8mm camera. I still remember my time lapse of the Taj Mahal at dawn so many years ago. Something in filmmaking is magical, and that's what I'm so attracted to. The beauty of a moment, seen by hundreds of beating hearts in a dark theatre," Parekh told PTI in an email interview.
"After my trip to India, I was taking filmmaking classes in San Francisco and then I applied to NYU Graduate School. The rest, as they say, is history. But it was travelling and watching people, places and cultures that inspired me. It still does today," he added.
Cinematography and direction are "deeply rooted" in cinema but are remarkably different, Parekh said.
"Directing requires a sense of total responsibility for what is put before the audience. As a cinematographer, I am always happy to make directorial suggestions which a director can either embrace or ignore, and in many ways as the cinematographer one is only responsible for the lighting and framing.
"But as the director you are responsible for everything. And it's the nuances of the performance that a director plays with, it's the mise-en-scene and everything in front of the camera."
"Succession", which airs in India on Star World at 10pm, has a "filmed theatre" quality to it, Parekh said and that can be captured only by making the actors feel comfortable on the sets.
"I like to make actors feel at ease on set with as little equipment around them as possible and I like to light spaces with lights outside of windows to reduce the apparatus of filmmaking and make it as close to theatre as possible. And this is what I love about 'Succession' that it feels liked 'filmed theatre' because the actors never know where that camera is, or who it's on, so they are forced to give 100 per cent all the time," he said.
There is a lot to look forward for Parekh with back-to-back projects in his kitty.
"I've just completed directing two episodes of season two of 'Succession', and shot the pilot for HBO's 'Watchmen' and directed an episode of that. Right now, I'm shooting a feature for an old friend- his directorial debut. The film is called 'A Naked Singularity'.
"In the fall, I'm off to the UK to direct two episodes of 'A Brave New World', based on the Aldous Huxley novel," he said.
A conversation is incomplete with Parekh without mentioning his most famous work, "Blue Valentine" and he shared a fond memory of shooting the Gosling and Michelle Williams starrer film.
"It all seemed so real when we were doing it. It was almost like a documentary. It's exactly what Derek Cianfrance (director) and I set out to do," he said.
Parekh is also open to collaborating with Indian talents.
"I'm waiting for a call with the right project. I've only had the chance to shoot in India once professionally on a commercial. And would love the opportunity to do it again," he said.