Veteran Film Director talks about his love affair with westerns and why he prefers digital to film
Beyond the bevy of manufacturers we’ve come to expect from Band Pro’s Annual Open House in December, this year added something special. This event was also to honor director of Enzo G. Castellari.
If you’re not familiar with the name, you’ve probably seen one of his forty-four films on the late show, especially if you’re a fan of spaghetti westerns, war movies or even shark films. Castellari has been called the “european Sam Peckinpah” and the “action master”. The hallmark of a Castellari film, is his use of high frame rates during action sequences. These slow motion sequences seem more like ballets than gunfights with every punch, squib burst and fall accentuated so you not only see them, you feel them.
Castellari was born into the cinema as son of director Marnio Girolami, and it was on the sets of his father’s films where he actually got his start working as an extra, AD or wherever he was needed at the time. Officially his first directorial credit is the Western, “Any Gun Can Play”. This would be the first in a long series of Westerns, and Castellari admits they are his passion from the time he was a boy sitting in his local cinema.
With his next film currently in preproduction, “The Angel, The Brute and the Wise”, he returns once again to the old West, actually shooting in the what is called a mini-Hollywood in Spain, Almeria. There in the Oasys Theme Park is a Western Town built under instructions of Sergio Leone, Director of: “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More” It has been part of Almeria’s filming locations ever since. The most interesting part about this film so far is the cast which includes Terry Gilliam, F. Murray Abraham, Michael Madsen, Matthew Modine, Lou Ferringno, Keith Carradine, Nastassja Kiniski, John Landis, and of course Franco Nero. Even more interesting is that Castellari says he will shoot digital.
This is interesting because as you may know, one of the most outspoken proponents for shooting film instead of digital is Quentin Tarantino, who drew inspiration from Castellari and his 1978 film The Inglorious Bastards. Although Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” only shares the same name and a similar theme, he has made no secret about the fact that he is a fan of Castellari’s films and even cast Castellari as a Nazi General as an homage.
You may recall Tarantino’s mantra: “If I can’t shoot on film I’ll stop making movies”. In contrast, Castellari asks rhetorically, “Why do you want to shoot film?” citing the many difficulties and expenses (see interview at 4:10). Castellari goes on to say that directors who are committed to shoot film are either steeped in nostalgia or simply aren’t aware of the capabilities of digital cinema cameras.
I point this out not just because it’s an interesting contrast, but to illustrate that there are varying opinions on the subject. The difference here, Tarantino chooses to shoot film because of what it represents to him, because it separates the medium of cinema from that of television. Castellari chooses digital not only because it’s easier and less expensive but because of the added benefit of being able to work more fluidly without being bogged with technical issues.
Finally, according to Castellari, the ability to edit well is the key to directing, as he says, “If you don’t know the editing, you are not a director”.
To find out more about Director Enzo G. Castellari, go to his IMDB page at www.imdb.com
To find out more about BandPro, go to their website at www.bandpro.com
Totally agree. and I would add that you are not a very good shooter of non-scripted programs if you don’t know about editing and what is required for it. It’s not just about making pretty pictures, it’s about telling a story with you camera and shooting footage that cuts together to tell the story. So we are talking about making sure nothing you don’t want in the shot is in it, shooting different angles, an assortment of Wide, Med. and CU, POV. B-ROLL! Clean NAT sound!(don’t forget the sound, so quiet on the set!). Remember, somebody is going to have to edit all this footage you shoot – and it could be you!