Emotional Element in Films and Working with Kenneth Branagh

by October 20, 2018 0 comments

Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos talks with this writer about the emotional connect in films and his experience of working with actor/director Kenneth Branagh.

Fantasy stories and films may be disregarded as content not serious enough but the  thought process that goes into world building proves that it is no easy feat.

Creating the Marvel Universe, for instance, took decades with plots and subplots linking different superheroes and multiple individuals are invested in the process. Haris Zambarloukos, cinematographer, worked on the first Thor film (2011), which was directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Use of technology like VFX has become one of the elements of a fantasy film but Zambarloukos says that what really matters is the emotional content and how it connects with the audience. While technology has made the experience more real and immersive by taking the audience inside the film storytelling has not changed.

For him, technology is a way to delve into more unknown categories. However, it is crucial to maintain the emotional journey. Technology shouldn’t distract us from the story, he says. “As filmmakers it is important to remember that technology is only a tool,” he says. “Sometimes it is hard because you are taken in with what you can create visually and how far you can push boundaries of reality that you forget sometimes the underlying use of it,” he adds.

The first time an audience saw a film, The Arrival of a Train (1896), they were so taken aback to see a train coming towards them that they left the theatre causing almost a stampede. “The impact 100 years ago was also an emotional experience,” says he.

While talking about the process of filmmaking he says that it is a collaborative effort and nobody’s singular voice translates onto the screen. There are hundreds of people who work on a film and there are priorities like in any organisation. “At some point someone has to make the decision though,” he says. “The best way to navigate through a film is by having a great director and script. Kenneth is a fantastic director who plays with emotions very well. Thor is a family story and one of the central themes is sibling rivalry while the fights and affection from the father was the anchor. He used these to centre the audience’s focus,” he adds.

The cinematographer has worked with Kenneth on Thor, Sleuths, Murder on the Orient Express and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. “It has been a fantastic association. I like being his way of storytelling and  we have worked together for so long because of our mutual storytelling ambitions. He loves to tell stories about the human condition and so do I,” he says.

His next project, Artemis Fowl, based on the science fiction novels written by Irish author Eoin Colfer, is his next. The series has had a huge following in the early 2000s when they were released and the pressure runs high.“We wanted to remain authentic to the material but certain judgement calls have to be made. There are decisions made on the script before I am involved. They are made by the writer, director and producer,” he says. The eight novels are about a teenage genius, who is also an anti-hero, and his adventures in a magical land where fairies exist. The film is being adapted by Disney.

Having worked for twenty years so far, he says that he’s never been overwhelmed and has handled every roadblock as a challenge. “I have been working with the same people for a long time and together we overcome the challenging situations,” he says.

Apart from films being his passion it has also given him more — his life partner — since he met his wife on the sets of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. “The achievements as a cinematographer are an everyday affair but this film is close to my heart personally because I met my wife while shooting for it,” he says.

Writer: Asmita Sarkar

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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