I aspire to become a cinematographer in the future so I decided to choose a female cinematographer as they are uncommon in the media industry. Ari Wegner is a female cinematographer born in 1984 and is from Melbourne, Australia. She is well known for Lady Macbeth (2016), The Kettering Incident (2016), Ruin (2013) and Hawker (2008). She has also created many short films and has done adverts for big brands such as Nike China, Ikea, Nokia, Canon and Alfa Romeo. Her work spans from long-form drama to short films and documentaries and her films have also been screened at numerous international film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Sundance.
Before cinematography, Wegner developed a passion for writing and photography which then led her to have an interest in film. She then enrolled as a film student at the ‘Victorian College of the Arts’ in Melbourne.
Wegner is a part of ‘The Australian Cinematographers Society’ which has 272 accredited members, only 9 of which are women. She is one of the youngest members of the group of Australian female cinematographers and is making a notable effect in feature films.
Wegner’s technique of cinematography heavily focuses on the subject and the story. After reviewing her films she uses a range of techniques to highlight certain aspects. Close up shots are often used to create tension and to help exaggerate detail.
I noticed in some shots camera shake was not stabilised in post-production. My perception of this is that it gives a natural and realistic approach which makes the viewer feel like they are connected, they there and apart of the story. It also gives a documentary feel as its raw and unedited. I like the use of this as it feels new and fresh as films often have very smooth, stabilised shots so this feels like it is breaking that barrier and has taught me to use camera shake for effect and to help portray a certain feel. Another technique is using long takes instead of short snappy shots as this helps portray and enhance the story and atmosphere. Long takes help the viewer to establish the environment, absorb every detail and get comfortable with the scene. One of my favourite techniques of Wegner’s is having a distinctive background and foreground. As I come from a photography background I understand attention to detail so having objects in the foreground as well as in the background makes a visually pleasing spot as it stimulates the mind to think about the location and objects.
The focus is on the child but the camera is filming from behind what looks like chains and bars. This gives a sense of secrecy and hiding.
As you can see in this example, she has positioned the camera so it is behind what looks like the duvet of the bed. This gives interesting visuals instead of shooting straight on. It also softens the shot as it gives a white haze around the edges which makes it calming and slightly angelic.
Another one of my favourite techniques of Wegner’s is using a low f-stop/aperture when filming to give a blurred background. I admire this technique as it helps emphasise the subject and their emotion. It brings the focus and attention to the foreground so the viewer is not distracted.
I like the positioning of this shot as it gives a slight Wes Anderson feel as the symmetry of the hallway and how she is positioned in the middle. The girls positioning gives her a slight angelic look as the light surrounding her gives a slight halo effect and the light is very soft against her face.
One of the trailers I enjoyed watching was ‘Stray’.
One of my ideas for my FMP is to have minimal to no dialogue. I want to guide the viewer through the film purely through visuals and sound. The trailer for ‘Stray’ has helped me understand this concept more as it has no dialogue but you have a clear understanding of what is happening. It also uses still shots or shots with small movement (a slow pan) which I find really helps me to focus on the main subject and the story a lot more. The overall video is really simple yet effective and powerful at portraying the story which is what I am aiming to create.