Film and celebrity culture. It’s intriguing to the majority, exemplified through the booming entertainment industry and society’s constant interest in the “glamorous life.”
Recently, San Diego-based portrait photographer Frank Rogozienski took to the streets, photographing the people, the parties, and the red carpet of the San Diego Film Festival. The annual five-day independent festival is a showcase for US and international independent filmmakers, incorporating various categories. Frank is interested in shooting not only the red carpet glamor, but everything that goes into the creation of these films.
Below, Frank chats with SDFF producer Ali Sutton. Enjoy!
What interested you about shooting SDFF and how did you get involved with us?
“I’ve always been intrigued by the whole film and celebrity culture – just not as a paparazzo. Very early in my career, when I was still in New Orleans, I worked for a local (to New Orleans) Film Industry magazine. The magazine existed to promote the great talent and productions taking place in LA at the time. I loved the work and it granted me great access – on set, at premieres and release parties. However, I learned pretty early on that I was not going to be satisfied with the standard grip and grin / step and repeat stuff on the red carpet. What did intrigue me was shooting all the other things that go into creating the aura of a film, the actor or the director….”
You took beautiful black & white photos during the 2012 festival. What made you chose to go with B&W?
“On a purely technical level, I hate the look of color noise in digital files. I knew I was going to be shooting in some very dark and challenging situations and I wanted to keep from using a flash if at all possible. Given all that, the noise was inevitable. But B&W noise resembles film grain to me. And I thought shooting B&W would lend itself to the subject and differentiate itself – behind the scenes – as opposed to the color and glitz of the front of the house stuff. And lastly, 2 of my all-time favorite photographers, who influence my behind the scenes approach, shot almost exclusively in B&W – Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Klein.”
You’re working on “behind the scenes” photos, does that affect the angle and image you take?
“Absolutely. Especially with this type of project. There’s almost a line of demarcation. The media line up for their interviews and portraits. I mark out a spot opposite of that angle of view. In terms of the images I create – I’m looking for those moments between the moments. When you exhale. When the lights have gone off, when everyone has looked the other way or are on to the next greatest thing. Those are the moments, gestures, moods I’m looking for. And it’s always good to challenge your perspective. Otherwise you’ll end up with the same image as the guy next to you and what’s the fun in that?”
Due to the chaotic nature of film festivals, what is the most challenging thing about photographing events like SDFF vs. some of your other portfolio shoots?
“That’s a great question. The chaos is definitely a plus for me. Strangely, I often find myself in a heightened state of calm when shooting behind the scenes. I want to blend into the background so I’ve usually staked out a location that’s not going nuts. I don’t want to be noticed. The more chaotic the better for me. When I’m working behind the scenes I usually don’t have a must get shot, so I’m not really involved in all that chaos. I’m a fly on the wall capturing a moment that not everyone would notice. I’m not into the gotcha moments at all, but my favorite shots reveal something about the event or people there that most wouldn’t notice or even have access to.”
Do you have any advice for up and coming photographers looking to shoot “behind the scenes” events, especially ones involving the film industry?
“Get access. Look at what everyone else is shooting and step away from that – find your own unique angle or point of view. Don’t be cruel with your images.”