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Filmmaker Must-See: 'Phantom Thread' Camera Test with commentary by Paul Thomas Anderson

In college I had a few classmates who struggled with school. Tests, assignments, homework, etc. It didn't agree with them. But all their lives they had been told that it was necessary, that school was the way they would get ahead in life. They were battered with this idea and it visibly ate away at their self-worth. I remember sitting down with one of them and saying "Listen, I know this isn't for you, that school isn't your strength, but that's okay. It isn't mine either. It's okay because we're aspiring filmmakers and our achievements won't just be about assignments and tests, they're going to be within the real world while we make goddamn movies." 

I'm glad that this remained true through my own (still young) career, as I've learned more while tinkering on sets than I'd ever learn in a classroom. And this is exactly why it's important for every filmmaker to catch a golden glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work of a master such as Paul Thomas Anderson. We've been gifted a glance into his world thanks to the lovely folks at Universal where we can see him test and tinker with lenses, film stock, light, and Daniel Day Lewis. For some this may be boring and trivial, but for filmmakers looking to light a candle under their own ass (like myself) I highly recommend setting aside the 8 minutes and 42 seconds this video offers. 

For those of you who have worked on sets before, it may seem fairly obvious that pre-production of this minute scale is necessary, but I can't tell you the amount of times I've been rushing to light a set that I've only just seen for the first time a few minutes prior. It's proof that these things take time and consideration and second-guessing. Nothing should just be "good enough" on the first try, and if you're setting up your camera where a comfortable apple box happens to be for your butt, you're probably wrong.