DARIUS KHONDJI   AFC/ASC

 

Born: 21 October 1955, Tehran, Iran. Went to France in 19??.

Education: University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA]; International Center of Photography, New York; New York University [1978-?; majored in Film].

Career: 'When I was a small kid I swam in films. My father was a film distributor. He bought films in Europe and showed them in Tehran where we lived. [...] Later on, after we had moved to Paris, there were always photographs and film posters in the house. I was fascinated. When I was 12 years old, I became a fan of horror films. [...] I bought a second-hand 8mm camera and started to shoot my own Dracula films. My sister then took my film education upon her. All weekends she trained me in the cinémathèque. [...] I continued my film studies at the New York University where the great Haig Manoogian was one of my teachers. When I returned to France [in 1981] it was very difficult to find a job. The film industry was like a wall. It was impossible to penetrate. But I had the good fortune to be asked by Bruno Nuytten, the greatest French filmmaker of the '70s.'

Ph commercials dir by William Klein, Chris Cunningham, David Fincher, Jean-Baptiste Mondino [for Jean-Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana, etc.] a.o. Ph music videos, e.g. 'Frozen' [1998, a: Madonna; d: Chris Cunningham; aph: Philip Pastuhov] & 'Afrika Shox' [1998, a: Leftfield; d: Chris Cunningham].

Directed commercials for Microsoft, Lancôme, a.o.

Member of the ASC since 1998.

Appeared in the doc's 'Shooting 'Panic Room' [2000-01, David Britten Prior], 'Les archives de Jean-Pierre Jeunet' [2001] & 'One Stop Beyond: The Making of 'Alien: Resurrection' [2003, Charles de Lauzirika].

Awards: 'César' Award nom [1992] for 'Delicatessen'; 'César' Award nom [1996] for 'La cité des enfants perdus'; ASC Award nom [1996], BSC Award nom [1995] & CFCA Award [1996] for 'Se7en'; Camerimage 'Golden Frog' nom [1996] for 'Stealing Beauty'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1997], ASC Award nom [1997], BAFTA Film Award nom [1997], Golden Satellite Award nom [1997] & BSC Award nom [1997] for 'Evita'; Music Week CAD Award nom [2000] for music video 'Afrika Shox'; Independent Spirit Award 'Best Cinematography' nom [2012] for 'Midnight in Paris'; ASC Spotlight Award nom [2014] for 'The Immigrant'.


About the ARRI ALEXA digital camera: Having shot two commercials and a promotional film with ALEXA, cinematographer Darius Khondji has used ARRI's latest digital camera in a number of different environments. All three productions were designed to be viewed on both the small and the big screen; the promotional film was a 3D project for Mercedes while the commercials were a Dior spot directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and a Gaultier spot directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Khondji spoke to ARRI about his experiences with the camera so far.

Darius Khondji: 'My first ALEXA shoot was the little 3D job for Mercedes and that was all daylight exteriors. It was a film to show the new generation of Mercedes cars that are coming - electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles - and it was shot in Paris; they wanted a 3D film to show on a big screen at the Champs-Élysées before the Paris Motor Show, which took place in October. The ALEXA handled the daylight exteriors and the 3D shooting very well.

The Dior commercial was a 'J'adore' spot starring Charlize Theron; it won't come out until sometime next year because there's a lot of heavy postproduction to be done. That was a very interesting job to do with the ALEXA because the first day of the shoot - it was a day-for-night shoot - was in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, which was only lit by very dim electric candelabras. We weren't able to light the hall so we had to rely on very little light; we did tests with different digital cameras and decided to go with ALEXA because it was the most sensitive and delivered the nicest, softest look.

I did shoot at 800 ASA at Versailles and that was more than enough. When I read the light meter in this very dim light - just like I would do for film - I was reading T0.7 at 800 ASA, which is hardly any light, but when we looked at the monitor, a stop of T1.4 on the lenses was actually overexposed, so we stopped down to T2.8. The ALEXA sensor is very sensitive and at times your light meter can be almost useless, so you just have to trust your eyes. In the end, though, it is better to use your meter and light the way you would if you were shooting film.

The dynamic range of the sensor is very good. I'm sure it could still be improved, but it's really far better than any other digital camera I've worked with. I just didn't feel any restriction with ALEXA, whereas normally with digital cameras you might have to dim down things like bright practicals a little bit to protect the highlights.

We haven't used the raw data mode yet, but we have used the onboard SxS card recording, as well as HDCAM SR. On the Gaultier shoot we used the SxS cards and editing was happening on the set, which was fantastic. That's the way Jean-Baptiste likes to work.

The ALEXA is small and it's silent, which is so important; it can be handheld or put on a Steadicam; it doesn't heat up too much and of course its sensitivity gives us a lot of freedom. It's a very sensuous camera to play with; of course there will be improvements, but it's the first time that I feel digital has turned a page. When I first used ALEXA the nostalgic part of me was a bit sad, in a way, because I'm one of the biggest defenders of film - and I will continue to shoot features on film - but for my next feature I think ALEXA might be a good choice, although it will also be really great when ARRI develops the 4:3 sensor model and also an optical viewfinder*, because that will feel even more like a film camera. Being able to use that full sensor to shoot anamorphic or 1.33:1 will be fantastic.' [From the ARRI website.]

 

In 2011, ARRI introduced the ALEXA Studio, a camera with an optical viewfinder and a 4:3 sensor.


 

 FILMS, TELEVISION & INTERNET

1983

Des formes aux forces Bazaine 1982 [Pascal & Jérôme Bony] 16mm/c; doc/22m

1984

Courtes chasses [Manuel Flèche] c; short/6m

1985

Classique [Christian Vincent] c; short/16m; prod IDHEC

1985

Hypothèse d'un soir [Marie-Christine Fieni] c; short/7m

1986

Sur les talus [Laurence Ferreira Barbosa] c; short/35m

1986

Jeux d'artifices [Virginie Thévenet] c; cph: Pascal Marti & Martin Legrand

1987

Embrasse-moi [Michèle Rosier] c

1988

K.O.K. [Régine Chopinot] c; ballet film/4m

1988

Une femme pour l'hiver [Manuel Flèche] c; short/18m

1989

Le trésor des îles chiennes [François-Jacques Ossang] tvi/b&w

1989

Le brasier [Eric Barbier] c; 2uc; ph: Thierry Arbogast

1990

Delicatessen [Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro] c

1991

Le trou de la corneille [François Hanss] c; short/14m

1991

Prague [Ian Sellar] c

1991

Models - The Film [Peter Lindbergh] c; doc/52m

1992

L'ombre du doute/Shadow of Doubt [Aline Issermann] scope/c

1993

Parano [- n'ayez pas peur d'en rire!]/Wacko/Pièges de feu [seg #? '?' dir by ?] c; 5 seg (+ linking seg); 78m; other ph: Bernard Déchet, Rémy Chevrin & Jean Poisson

1993

Before the Rain/Pred dozhdot/Po dezju [Milcho Manchevski] tvi/c; 'thanks to' for contribution to cinematography; ph: Manuel Teran

1994

La cité des enfants perdus/The City of Lost Children [Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro] c; addph: Michel Amathieu; uwph: Roland Savoye

1994

Marie-Louise ou la permission [Manuel Flèche] c; cph: Florent Montcouquiol

1994

Se7en [David Fincher] s35/c; addph: Harris Savides; aph: Donald M. Morgan; sfx ph: Anette Haellmigk

1995

Stealing Beauty/Io ballo da sola [Bernardo Bertolucci] s35/c; 2uc: Nicola Pecorini

1996

Evita [Alan Parker] 2.35 Research/c; originally a project of dir Oliver Stone & actress Michelle Pfeiffer (1994-95)

1996

Alien: Resurrection/Alien 4 [Jean-Pierre Jeunet] s35/c; vfx ph: Conrad W. Hall; miniature ph: Rick Fichter; uwph: Pete Romano; pyrotechnics ph: Anna Foerster

199?

The Satanic Verses [?] ?

1997

In Dreams/Premonitions [Neil Jordan] c; uwph: Pete Romano

1998

The Ninth Gate [Roman Polanski] s35/c

1998

Browning [Manuel Flèche] unrealized

1998

Le temps retrouvé/Time Regained [Raoul Ruiz] replaced by ph Ricardo Aronovich

1999

The Beach [Danny Boyle] s35/c; 2uc: Giles Nuttgens; uwph: Mike Valentine

2000

Panic Room [David Fincher] s35/c; cred as cph (left prod and was replaced by Conrad W. Hall)

2001

Poem - Ich setzte den Fuß in die Luft, und sie trug/Poem - I Set My Foot Upon the Air and It Carried Me [Ralf Schmerberg] b&w-c; 19 seg; ph seg 'Ich kann dir die Welt nicht zu Füßen legen'; other ph: Nicola Pecorini, Franz Lustig, Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein, Robby Müller, a.o.; filmed April 2000 - April 2002

2002

Anything Else [Woody Allen] p/c; replaced doph Carlo Di Palma

2002

Tooba [Shirin Neshat] c; short/12m; cph: John Handler

2003

Wimbledon [Richard Loncraine] s35/c; addph (+ 2uc): Martin Kenzie

 

[Right] with Sydney Pollack - "The Interpreter"

 

2004

The Interpreter [Sydney Pollack] J-D-C Scope+tvi-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: David M. Dunlap; aph: Dylan M. Gross

2005

Zidane, un portrait du XXIe siècle [Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno] s35+s16+HD (Sony F900)-to-35mm scope/c; doc/90m

2005

The Lady from Shanghai [Kar-wai Wong] pre-production; originally scheduled to start filming in February; prod pushed to 2009; status unknown

2006

My Blueberry Nights [Kar-wai Wong] s35/c

2006

Funny Games U.S. [Michael Haneke] c; aph: Dylan Goss; remake of 'Funny Games' (1996, M. Haneke; ph: Jürgen Jürges)

2007

The Ruins [Carter Smith] p/c; 2uc: Nino Martinetti; uwph: Simon Christidis

 

[Left] with dir Stephen Frears & c.op Alastair Rae - "Chéri"

Photo by Bruno Calvo

 

2008

Chéri [Stephen Frears] J-D-C Scope+Kowa Scope+tvi-to-35mm scope/c; 2uc: Frédéric Martial-Wetter

2008

Protect You + Me [Brady Corbet] c; short/10m

2008

Madonna - Sticky & Sweet Tour [Nathan Rissman & Nick Wickham] s35/c; as Darius Khonji; concert film/125m; filmed 4-8 December (River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

2010

Midnight in Paris [Woody Allen] s35-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Johanne Debas

2011

Amour/Love [Michael Haneke] HD (ARRI ALEXA)-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c

2011

To Rome with Love/Nero Fiddled/The Bop Decameron [Woody Allen] s35-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c

2011

C.H.Z./Continuously Habitable Zones [Philippe Parreno] HD/c; art video/14m; 'C.H.Z. stands for 'Continuously Habitable Zones', an astrobiological term used for planets offering viable conditions for life to grow. Recent scientific studies have shown that life would be more likely to develop on a planet with two or more small suns (dwarf suns) rather than on a planet with one very bright sun. In such zones the saturated photosynthesis would produce black vegetation. For this film, Parreno collaborated with landscape architect Bas Smets to design the set, an extraterrestrial landscape near Porto, Portugal, that continues to grow to this day. Merging science and fiction, the landscape is practically void of light, presenting a disorientating black environment. The landscape is both alien and familiar - unclear as to whether this is a new inhospitable planet or the aftermath of some catastrophic event on Earth. Alongside the film, Parreno created a series of intricate, detailed ink drawings.'

2011

Marry the Night [Lady Gaga] c; mus short (music video)/14m; filmed October

2012

The Immigrant/The Nightingale/Lowlife [James Gray] Elite Scope+J-D-C Scope+tvi-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; addph: Craig Haagensen & Hernan Otaño

2013

Jane Got a Gun [Lynne Ramsay (replaced by Gavin O'Connor)] when L. Ramsay left the prod, D. Khondji followed and was replaced by Mandy Walker

2013

Prada Candy/Prada Candy l'Eau [Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola] s35-to-HD (1.85:1)/c; branded short/3m30s; for Prada

2013

Illusions & Mirrors [Shirin Neshat] HD (ARRI ALEXA)/b&w; comm short/2m; trailer for the Viennale 2013 (Vienna IFF); created as part of a larger project, a half-feature-length experimental film; made with the support of Dior

2013

Castello Cavalcanti [Wes Anderson] c; branded short/8m; for Prada

2013

Magic in the Moonlight [Woody Allen] p (+ D-Cinema)/c

2014

Irrational Man [Woody Allen] p (+ D-Cinema)/c

2015

The Devil You Know/New World [Gus Van Sant] tv-pilot/HD; 2uc: David M. Dunlap; aph: Dylan Goss; for HBO-tv

2015

The Lost City of Z [James Gray] p (+ D-Cinema)/c; aph: Adam Dale; uwph: Mike Valentine

2016

Okja [Bong Joon-ho] HD (ARRI ALEXA 65/p, XT/p & Mini/p)-to-D-Cinema (scope)/c; for Netflix

2016

Anywhen [Philippe Parreno] HD (ARRI ALEXA 65)/c; short/?m; comm by Hyundai Motor for a site-specific exhibition in London's Tate Modern (Turbine Hall)

2017

Carmen [Benjamin Millepied] pre-production; scheduled to start filming in 2018

 

 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT

1983

Tchao pantin [Claude Berri] ph: Bruno Nuytten

1983

Fort Saganne [Alain Corneau] ph: Bruno Nuytten

1984

Flügel und Fesseln/L'avenir d'Émilie/The Future of Emily [Helma Sanders-Brahms] co-c.asst; ph: Sacha Vierny

1984

Rive droite, rive gauche [Philippe Labro] ph: Pascal Marti

1984

Jeans Tonic/Jeans, basket et Coca-Cola [Michel Patient] co-c.asst; ph: Dominique Gentil & Gérard Simon

1985

Bibos Männer [Klaus Lemke] co-c.asst; ph: Martin Schäfer

1985

Le lieu du crime/La mauvaise herbe/Scene of the Crime [André Téchiné] co-c.asst; ph: Pascal Marti

1986

Double messieurs/Double Gentlemen [Jean-François Stévenin] co-c.asst; ph: Pascal Marti