Written by Natalie Hulla.
This week, Director of Photography Vanja Černjul, A.S.C., gave a presentation to a packed screening room of students and faculty of Ohio University Film. Černjul, a graduate of both The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and New York University Film, began his career after being one of a few NYU film students to specialize in cinematography. As many students in the program focused on either directing or producing, he had the opportunity to work on 20 student short films, while making connections and developing relationships with individuals who he continued to work with well into his professional career. He preceded this conversation by showing his reel of cinematography and answering students' questions about camera and lighting techniques he used to capture certain shots. Cernjul then discussed developing nuanced lighting techniques while working as director of photography for network TV shows "Ugly Betty" and "30 Rock."
While taking questions from students regarding on-set experiences, Černjul provided insight into best practices for managing crew members and developing relationships with the director and, at times, the cast. He also discussed positive experiences working with the visual effects and post-production departments, and how he enjoys being involved in the post process if given the opportunity.
Most recently, Černjul wrapped directing photography for episodes of the Netflix original series "Marco Polo," which is set to premiere in December. The series takes place in 13th-century China, which meant that the pre-production process required research and creative problem-solving about capturing realistic lighting techniques, as the three lighting sources they could only rely on within the story were daylight, moonlight and fire. Černjul then segued into providing his insight into the trajectory of primetime and cable TV. Since people's viewing habits have changed due to streaming video and "binge watching," Černjul said, TV has adopted more sophisticated cinematography, production sets and visual effects. This new canon has also allowed for acclaimed filmmakers like David Fincher and Martin Scorsese to direct episodes and executive produce programs, adhering to viewers' taste preferences and standards of quality entertainment.
Throughout his presentation, Černjul opened the floor to students' questions and insights, drawing from his own experiences in the industry and providing sound advice for OU Film's up and coming filmmakers.