Over the years, film has progressed immensely with the contribution of reality enhancing visual effects. But, as with every creative medium there are those resurgent pioneers who look to the basics and beginnings to craft their aesthetic.
One such creative is Evan Prosofsky, and while the name might not be synonymous with popular culture films or shining bright in the commercial lights of Hollywood (just yet), this Canadian cinematographer has been responsible for some of the most candid and creative video clips of late. Prosofsky shoots almost exclusively on film and having worked with the likes of Grimes, Lana Del Rey, Toro Y Moi, Mac Demarco, Arcade Fire, Paul McCartney and most recently contributing his Technicolour touch to Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat video clip its safe to he has well established himself doing so.
I spoke to Evan recently to see where it all started for him; how at Twenty- Four years old he’s amassed millions of YouTube views, appeared on NOWNESS, worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and where it’s all heading for him now.
I first became aware of your work from your short film ‘Waterpark’ which was featured on NOWNESS late last year, but where did cinematography all begin for you?
My first encounter with cinematography was through shooting skateboard films in Edmonton, Alberta as a teenager, in that culture the word cinematographer doesn’t exist, you’re called a “filmer”. I didn’t exactly realize the difference between Director or DOP, or what cinematography meant. I just filmed stuff and eventually wondered why it didn’t look like my favourite skateboard films. I began to learn about the dichotomy between Director, DOP and about motion picture cameras. I also volunteered at FAVA (the local film co-op) I’d borrow their film cameras on the weekend and learnt like that.
You have established a predominately 16mm and 35mm film based aesthetic, what do you feel you gain from using this over digital recording mediums?
It’s less “what do I gain” with film, but “what do I lose” with digital. In my humble opinion there is no advantage aesthetically to digital. I love what film gives me and I’m comfortable with it, and I love how steeped it is in cinema history. I love using a 50-year-old camera that can give decidedly modern results. It’s beautiful.
In terms of photography there has been a popular cultural shift back toward 35mm and SLR cameras, but you see the same resurgence within the film industry?
No, not particularly. I don’t see a new generation of filmmakers exploring film, I see an old guard holding on to the dying remnants and trying to pickup the pieces they lost after their first flirtations with digital. I love that people like Christopher Nolan are vocal about film, but they could be doing more than speak out, they should be buying boutique labs, talking to the marketing agent at Kodak, rebranding things, lifting the veil for younger filmmakers. It has to seem fun and easy and beautiful like it is, not a gentleman’s club reserved for experienced filmmakers with money.
You often work alongside director Emily Kai Bock, how did that partnership come about? How does it benefit you to work with one of your friends?
I met Emily in Montreal through mutual friends. She was working on her first film, a documentary on sex offenders. I was impressed by her confidence, we got drunk one night and she basically convinced me right then and there to support her. I used some leftover grant money to fund our first music video together. I can be more honest, I can fight more battles, and I don’t have to play it so safe. But what I love most is just learning with her and not having to hide my insecurities.
What influences you most when creating work?
The material is always what excites me the most. When I’m prepping I look at painting and photography but lately I’ve been trying to avoid that. I wish I could enter a more childlike state of awareness when I’m shooting. All my favourite cinematographers say the same thing, which is essentially “learn the basics and then forget them.
What’s been the best thing about working with such prolific names in Music and Film?
It’s been a strange, fantastic dream. I still don’t believe it but I’m confronted with the memories of very surreal, stressful, beautiful times behind the camera capturing special moments. I’m incredibly thankful to the director’s who’ve given me the chance to meet some of my heroes.
Any three artists (dead or alive) you’d love to work with?
A music video for Bob Dylan just fell through, that was crushing. He is definitely on the list. Maybe Rodriguez, or Neil Young (or Cass Mccombs.)
We’ve seen you grace your amazing stylistic presence in countless music videos but what’s next for you, are you currently working on any shorts or features?
Thanks so much. Yeah, absolutely. I just shot a film in New Mexico that I’m excited about, and I’m heading back to Alberta to shoot an IMAX film while I still have the chance.
see more work — evanprosofsky.com