Cold Mountain
John Seale and Anthony Minghella prepare for
a battle scene.

The desire to re-shoot is inevitable.

Six months after I finish shooting a movie, I look at it with
a horrifying eye. ‘What was I thinking of? That’s so silly that
I’d love to reshoot it.’ In one funny kind of way it’s because
of the editing; you see the rhythm and the flow of the film and
you’d love to reshoot it.

Looseness comes with age.

I find that as I get older I’m loosening up
more and more. And Anthony is very complimentary in saying "I
think it’s getting better and better."

The economics of light.

The way I light is for the reality of the situation. I light for
that only.

A picture doesn’t have to be pretty.

I’ve never believed in pretty pictures for
pretty pictures’ sake.
You can’t have everything pretty like a commercial, otherwise it
takes away from the power of the performance and the situation.

A film is performance.

I love getting two or three cameras in there and grabbing a performance,
because I think a film is performance. If you haven’t got it, you
haven’t got a film. It can be pretty, but won’t go anywhere because
it hasn’t got a performance. So I believe in performance first,
and even if I have to drop my lighting values or desires by 50
or 60 percent, I’ll do it. Because if the actor is ready to perform
and I’m still trying to get it together, I just say ‘I’m ready,
let’s go’ because they’re ready.

The actor has the power.

I believe that the actors’ power is a lot more powerful than mine.
I’m not there to create the scene; I let performance do that.

Your best film is always the next one.

You put so much into every project, I find it very hard to say
‘Hey that was the best one.’ One of them won an Academy Award for
me and sometimes, I shouldn’t say this, but I’ve got to question
whether it was the right film chosen. Because overall it was a
damn good film, and sometimes the vote in the technical department
benefits. But I think I’ve done photography in other films that
is probably as good as or better.

It’s very hard, because I regard every one of them as different
and feel I’m doing the best with each one. I don’t have a favorite.
I always believe it will be the next one because I’m going to really
throw everything into it.

Filmography for John Seale

Cold Mountain (2003)
Dreamcatcher (2003)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
The Perfect Storm (2000)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
At First Sight (1999)
Static (1998)
City of Angels (1998)
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
The English Patient (1996)
The American President (1995)
Beyond Rangoon (1995)
The Paper (1994)
The Firm (1993)
Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)
The Doctor (1991)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Rain Man (1988)
Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
Stakeout (1987)
A Sense of Sound (1986)
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Children of a Lesser God (1986)
The Hitcher (1986)
The Empty Beach (1985)
Witness (1985)
Silver City (1984)
BMX Bandits (1983)
Goodbye Paradise (1983)
Careful, He Might Hear You (1983)
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Fighting Back (1982)
Ginger Meggs (1982)
Gallipoli (1981)
Doctors & Nurses (1981)
The Survivor (1981)
Fatty Finn (1980)
Dawn! (1979)
The Odd Angry Shot (1979)
Weekend of Shadows (1978)
The Irishman (1978)
Break of Day (1977)
The Last Wave (1977)
Caddie (1976)
Mad Dog Morgan (1976)
Deathcheaters (1976)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Alvin Purple (1973)