Hollywood cinematographer shares his role behind the camera of popular movies

Hollywood cinematographer Steve Poster spoke with Baylor students Tuesday about his role in making some popular movies.

The department of film and digital media hosted Hollywood cinematographer Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, for a screening of “Stuart Little 2” followed by a Q&A.

Film students, faculty and others gathered to watch the film, with Poster sitting in the front row at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Castellaw 101.

On a movie set, a cinematographer is the person who operates or directs the camera for movies. Poster shared the role he played in the making of “Stuart Little 2,” a sequel to the classic “Stuart Little,” which follows George Little and his furry mouse friend Stuart on Stuart’s quests for adventure.

Dr. Corey Carbonara, professor of film and digital media, along with his colleague, Chris Hansen, introduced Poster and awarded him with a plaque to honor of his frequent visits to Baylor.

Carbonara said Poster is a technologist, or someone who is a technical person living within a creative mindset, meaning he is aware of which tools to use at what time.

Along with “Stuart Little 2,” Poster has worked on “Rocky V,” “Daddy Day Care” and “Donnie Darko,” building an extensive resume of films and television shows he has worked on.

Prior to the screening, Poster described the many approaches he practiced while making “Stuart Little 2.” Poster spoke about unique experiences such as the film being the third film to use a particular digital screening process, collaborating on the invention of a method for creating feathers in CGI (computer-generated imagery) and developing a sunny movie, which was accomplished with advanced lighting and other tools.

Following the screening, Poster went into a Q&A with students in the audience.

Students asked Poster a variety of questions, ranging from how he got started in the business to lighting innovations, as well other technological advances he uses in his field.

Poster said he knew he wanted to do something with photography by the age of 12 but didn’t know what that meant. At age 14, he discovered his next-door neighbor was a news cameraman.

Poster’s neighbor became a mentor and sparked his desire to make movies.

“It’s real juicy to be able to be a cinematographer out there creating images, telling stories, having a crew, big or small,” Poster said. “It’s fun being able to be in a group of people doing that kind of work and being the leader of the crew.”

In regard to the script and deciding whether to work on a project or not, Poster said he goes through the genre and tells the story that needs to be told.

“One of the difficulties I’ve had with my career is that I’ve done so many different types of movies that they can’t pin me down and say ‘Oh, he’s good for this kind of movie, or he’s good with that kind of movie,’” Poster said.

This has proven to weaken Poster’s chances at being selected for particular projects. He said in the concrete world we live in, people are looking for specific people to perform specific tasks.

Poster said that because of the demand for staff diversity, it has become easier for younger people to get started in the cinematography business than it was when he began, especially women, but he added that it is not a bad time for guys either.

“Women are really on the ascendency in terms of cinematography,” Poster said.

In his closing statements, Poster advised the department to consider bringing in people on the creative side, such as directors, to create workshops for the students.

“Great to see you all,” Poster said. “I expect someone from this crowd [film majors] to hire me as a director of photography soon.”

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