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Thursday, 17 July 2014 23:10

A Conversation with Alex Funke, ASC

Written by  Thea Green
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Sometimes the inspiration to make a movie strikes in the seemingly strangest times.

That could be said about Cinematographer Alex Funke, ASC who felt inspired to make a film while studying to become a bacteriologist at UCLA. Funke who was just short of his degree in bacteriology at UCLA, came to the conclusion that he should be studying film and switched over to study technique under mentors Charles Clarke and James Wong Howe.  In a recent ASC interview, Funke talked about inspiration, the craft, and offered advice to filmmakers.

Though Funke explored bacteriology in college, his inspiration to shoot was inherent early on. “I had a Bell & Howell Filmo Turret-8 from about the age of 10, and I shot and developed all my own black-and-white film,” he mentioned. “I was mostly interested in filming locomotives! When the very first edition of the American Cinematographer Manual came out, in 1960, I grabbed it. Everything changed. It was a window into a new world! I pretty much memorized it.”

Funke, who worked as a photographer for Charles Eames for eleven years before trying his hand out at film on Battlestar Galactica draws inspiration from the work of art and photography. “I love the painters Georges de La Tour, Harvey Dinnerstein and John Sloan, and the photographers David Plowden, Michikazu Sakai and Brassaï,” he said. “The light, composition and style within their works have been inspirations to me.” 

His advice to filmmakers, focused mainly on how to work with a crew as a part of the team. Funke believes that a big portion of the mistakes he’s made on set have been from not listening enough. He also believes that filmmakers should “always finish the day leaving a shot ready to start right away the next morning.”

The ability to work with a crew that is entirely on the same page and passionate about the project is the best part of the process to Funke. “I think that any time one can work with a talented and enthusiastic crew, shooting something we really have faith in, is memorable.”

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