Charlie Pitt – DOP
Danielle chats with DOP Charlie about feasting on fish heads, hunting for zombies and the odourous side effects of shooting in extreme locations.
You’ve worked all over the world as Director of Photography, out of the 100 or so countries you have shot in, where are the best and worst places, and why?
I have been fortunate to shoot in some of the most stunning places on the planet – from the South Pacific Islands to the jungles of Borneo. Every shoot has had its challenges – usually the most difficult to contend with are weather related and as they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! Charlie Pitt – DOP
The North Pole was particularly memorable. Despite the equipment being winterised the cameras would only work for 10 minutes – which was about how long we wanted to be outside!
Absolutely nothing is easy in those kinds of places. To brush your teeth first thing you had to cut a slice of frozen toothpaste and personal hygiene is a bit of a nightmare…The check in staff physically backed away from us when we walked into the hotel in Montreal with crap beards and reeking of kerosene after 3 weeks away. It’s amazing what a bath and clean clothes can do!
It is however, despite all the hardship, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. The sun stays just above the horizon and the landscape is awe inspiring. I’d go back tomorrow.
If I had to single out one place that I wouldn’t return to it would have to be Haiti. Although this probably wasn’t helped by the fact we were making a film for the BBC on zombies, and filming in cemeteries and other salubrious locations…
You are known at TCC as being very techy, and for your extensive kit collection, what piece do you see as definitely worth
investing in? Is there anything you now think was a bit of a waste of money?
It’s paramount to me that I stay abreast of technology in order to give clients serious input into their projects. Nowadays it seems that a new camera comes out every week and it’s impossible as a freelancer to own every camera. I had a period of 4 weeks last year when I shot on 5 different cameras – Epic/Alexa/C300/F5 and FS700. Since “it all starts with the glass” I am a firm believer in having the best lenses and ancillary equipment. I’m looking forward to the day someone brings me out a 12mm – 2000mm T1.1 zoom that doesn’t have a front element the size of a satellite dish and weigh as much as a small flat!
And I don’t think I’ve ever invested in anything that was a waste of money!
What is your proudest moment? Most embarrassing moment?
It may sound trite, but I am proud to have worked with some of the most awesome crew on earth. Despite working on some pretty testing shoots not once has anybody lost their sense of humour.
A few years back we did a month long round Russia BBC trip and turned up late in the middle of nowhere to find that the only food available was fish heads and vodka. A grand night followed – a tenth of a mars bar each and a little vodka! Dubbed the “Doomed to Success” tour by a Russian dignitary, he blessed our visit to Siberia and made a toast in English saying he believed our film was “doomed to success”. The name stuck.
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