Conrad Hall: Reality vs. Fiction

From American Cinematographer, Leader of the Pack interview by Caleb Deschanel and edited by David E. Williams (September 1998)

"Here we are making a movie, translating a real story into dramatic terms. We’re not thinking about where it actually took place. Did a particular conversation between Pre and his coach happen 25 yards over there, or here where the light is better? We had some struggles with that sort of thing, because Robert was very devoted to the people who really knew Pre those who ran with him, coached him, and were friends with him. Robert relied on them for veracity, because he wanted to be true to Pre’s story. But being true to any story does not necessarily mean filming it exactly the way it happened. You have to interpret it, using long or short lenses, composition, backlight, frontlight, overexposure, darkness whatever it takes in order to create the story. Robert and I had less-than-perfect relationship in this regard, because he was trying to be very true to reality. I’ve generally found that reality should not be involved in the creative process. You should know the reality, but then go ahead and use whatever dramatic storytelling is necessary to best represent it. "

- Conrad Hall, ASC

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