Ernst Lubitsch: Letter Excerpt

From American Cinematographer, Concerning Cinematography by Ernst Lubitsch (Nov. 1929)

As told to William Stull, ASC.

"The cinematographers of Hollywood have had some colossal obstacles placed in their way since we began to make talking pictures, but they have surmounted them wonderfully. I think the quality of photography they are making now has comeback almost to the high level of the old days-- almost, but not entirely! There are still a few things to overcome before we get back that absolute perfection again, but these last few months have seen great progress.

Probably the greatest evil has been the policy of using a number of cameras on every scene, and trying to do long shots, close-ups, and everything else all at once. The [sound proof camera] booths have been inconvenient, but in the hands of such a skillful cinematographer as Victor Milner, ASC, who photographed my last picture, The Love Parade, they are no more than inconvenient. On silent pictures, we only used to use one camera-- and that kept the cameraman busy; now, on the talkers, we have to use three or four cameras always, and sometimes more. It is entirely the wrong system, unjust to to the cinematographer, to the actor, and to the director. They tell us that by using so many cameras we are saving the company time and money; well, if we are, those of us who have been making silent pictures the other way these last 20 years ought to be in jail! Just think of all the money we must have wasted by concentrating on one angle of a scene at a time-- and making it good!"

-Ernst Lubitsch

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