To be the person filming is to discover that the presence of a camera transforms all relationships. To film is to bring the future into the present and to see in ways that you cannot without a camera. If these sound like slightly esoteric words of wisdom from a camera guru, it’s because they are. The ideas come from documentary director and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson, Dick Johson is Dead), who already had more than 50 shooting credits to her name before directing her first feature.
In spending so much time behind the camera, Johnson developed a deep, philosophical approach to filmmaking that would be informative for anyone making movies. Fortunately, she breaks down this approach and her ideas behind it in her Master Class on the Moving Image as a Relationship. Read on for takeaways from the session on the crucial relationship between filmmakers and images, the inherent power associated with controlling the images we create and how embracing contradictions can be our best asset in discovering who we are as artists.