Łukasz Żal on Mortality and Memories in Ending Things

Cinematographer talks Ending Things in this new interview over at The Film Stage:

The Film Stage: How do you feel about I’m Thinking of Ending Things now that you’ve gotten a bit of distance from the film’s release? 

Łukasz Żal: It’s a very important film for me. It’s kind of a meditation about life. It’s like a journey, perhaps quite uncomfortable at times, but life is not always comfortable and in fact it’s painful at times. And it was not easy to shoot it because we didn’t have a lot of time. So it was quite intense. I see a lot of personal things in it. For me, I think it’s a very bold, very brave movie. And I think there are not many movies like this nowadays. It depends what you have inside of you for what you will find out about yourself with this movie. It’s very universal. It’s not easy. It’s not like a commercial. Cinema is not entertainment. I think it’s so important that cinema is not only entertainment.

[...]

How did you get the script in the first place? How was your first conversation with Charlie?

It was so funny because when I read the script for the first time, I was going back home. I read this in the mountains and I was going home, and there was a blizzard. And I remember that I just stopped at a petrol station and I took a picture, which looked more or less like this ice cream place. Then I met Charlie, and we had a phone conversation. We were talking about how to approach memories. What is a memory? How are we going to show memories? What colors are we going to use? I really wanted to make this movie. And he didn’t call me after the conversation for 10 days. I don’t know. I felt like his character. I was thinking maybe I was too intense. Maybe I was having too many ideas. Maybe I was talking too fast. Maybe he was expecting me to have more solutions. I felt like Nicolas Cage in Adaptation. I really started overthinking. What did he think about me? Did he like me? Maybe not. I was just judging myself. 

Was there any particular scene that you struggled to shoot? That you had trouble really getting it right?

Every day it was a struggle. Every day you are discovering something. I think the hardest aspect of this movie was to combine the proper atmosphere with dialogue scenes and camera movement. In these long dialogue scenes, to create images which will be hyper realistic and will give the impression of memory or fantasy at the same time. We wanted to make the camera anticipate what will happen. It’s kind of a mixture of memories. I mean, imagination, films, books and experiences. We didn’t want to use any lens manipulations or strange effects to make this look like a dream or something. But we were going to do it in production design, in the costumes, in the composition. (Source)

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