My Award Winning Cinematographer: George Feucht
George Feucht, my friend, my college roommate and my cinematographer. This Sunday, Sept. 28, we will gather together at the Director’s Guild of America Theater on Sunset Blvd as George is honored by his union, the International Cinematographer’s Guild (ICG), with its Emerging Cinematographer Award for his work on our most recent collaboration, UNE LIBÉRATION. For George, it’s a film that started with a dare but I’ll get back to that. Personally, it’s gratifying to see George receive this honor, he’s one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known and I’ve known George for a while.
We meet by chance when I transferred to USC my junior year. I was a late acceptance, so when I got to campus I hadn’t been assigned a place to live. At the housing office, they gave me a choice. There was a spot open in a normal two room, four person apartment or there was a spot open in an identical apartment with an RA. An RA got their own room, meaning only three people would be assigned to that four person apartment. Fewer people in the same amount of space sounded like a good thing to me, so I picked the RA room at Annenberg House. I walked there, knocked on room 302 and RA George Feucht answered the door. I put out my hand and much to his surprise, I said, “Hi, I’m your roommate, Brian.”
George and his other roommate were a little shocked, they thought they had pulled off a coup and had avoided a third roommate. I wrecked that plan, but we worked it out. I learned about bands like ‘James’ and ‘Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.’ George endured my need to religiously tape DEEP SPACE NINE and X-FILES episodes. We both stayed in that apartment, not just for that school year but also that summer, the next year and the following summer after graduation. It was nearly two years to the day in apartment 302 from when I knocked on the door to when George and I moved out.
In the years that followed George and I maintained a friendship and began working professionally. When I signed on to co-produce fellow USC alumni Gregg Bishop’s feature DANCE OF THE DEAD, which was shot in Georgia, George was already on board as the DP. We actually ended up splitting a bunk bed during production.
When I circled back to directing with FAR, there was no doubt that I wanted George to shoot it. The film’s festival run has been well documented and George even won a distinctive achievement award for cinematography at the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival. However, if you check out George’s reel above, you’ll see FAR is not on it.
I asked him about that and he replied that while he is proud of the film, he feels it’s just normal romantic / comedy lighting. Nothing that really stands out compared to his other work or would warrant putting it on his reel. Being a bit competitive by nature, I mean, I want my work represented on my DP’s reel. I dared him right then and there. Whatever film we work on next had to appear on his reel. The result is his now award winning work on UNE LIBÉRATION. Still, I didn’t make it easy on him.
As a director, I walk on set everyday with a shot list of everything I’ll need to make a scene work in the edit. Wide shots, close-ups, inserts, whatever. This list usually has a numbering system of my own design that drives the crew crazy. Lens and lights are George’s domain, I rarely comment on them, trusting his judgment. George’s biggest challenge is time or lack thereof.
For the first two of four days of production on UNE LIBÉRATION I had listed 140 shots to capture with two Arri Alexa cameras and I like to move fast. This was aggravated on this show because in addition to directing, I was also the financier. As someone who has worked as both an editor and a line producer, I know what I need to get to make a film work in post but I can also put the budget numbers together to know what I’m spending every minute on set. These two voices are always pushing me while I’m directing to get what’s needed and as quickly as possible. This means that George was forced to scramble with the limited crew and resources I could afford to achieve what I had planned. All while AD Robert Van Norden and I asked him to move faster. Despite the limitations, when you look at the finished film, UNE LIBÉRATION has the appearance of a studio production. That is in large part due to the skill of Mr. Feucht, who was able to light the two camera set-ups, operate one of the cameras and keep up the relentless pace we had to maintain. By the end of the fourth day everyone was beyond exhausted, but we had every piece of coverage checked off my list.
It was insanely gratifying when George told me in June of this year that Steve Poster, the head of the ICG union and the DP of films like DONNIE DARKO and THE BOY WHO COULD FLY, had personally called to inform him that, before our film has even premiered, George would be honored with the union’s Emerging Cinematographer Award for UNE LIBÉRATION.
Today, I’m ecstatic that footage from UNE LIBÉRATION has been incorporated into George’s reel. If you think the small taste of images is impressive, let me say that George is holding back at my request. There’s even more amazing footage I’ve asked be kept under wraps until after the film receives an official premiere. That said, if you’re a director or a producer looking for an incredibly talented Cinematographer and for some reason you’re not 100% convinced by George’s reel, contact George or myself. We can privately provide you with some material to persuade you that George is the man for the job.
Incredibly, while George receives his honor at the DGA Theater on Sunday, a few blocks away at the Egyptian Theater, DANCE OF THE DEAD director Gregg Bishop will be having the west coast premiere of DANTE THE GREAT, his segment in the feature anthology V/H/S VIRAL, which was also shot by George. That’s right George has two event screenings at two of LA’s premium venues on the same night!
If earning the ICG’s Emerging Cinematographer Award for UNE LIBÉRATION is the result of me daring George to shoot material worthy of his reel, I hereby publicly challenge him to win an Oscar. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s for a film I direct or not, my former college roommate will rise and meet that challenge as he always does.