Within a few minutes of talking to 23-year-old cinematographer Evan Prosofsky, it becomes clear that he’s a genuine and appreciative talent. He’s shot music videos for artists such as Toro y Moi, Grizzly Bear Grimes and Cadence Weapon, but he’s flattered by all the attention he’s been receiving and modest about his work. Perhaps it’s because he’s Canadian, or maybe it’s because of his typical childhood, growing up in Edmonton.
Prosofsky attributes part of his early success to luck. After he moved to Montreal in 2010, he was asked to be the director of photography for a music video that director Emily Kai Bock, a close friend of his, was putting together. That video was “Oblivion” for Canadian artist Grimes and it’s since been viewed over five million times on YouTube. “We had a big celebratory dinner the night it got a million views,” laughs Prosofsky. Although it turned out to be one of the defining music moments in 2012, the popularity of “Oblivion” was completely unexpected. “I wasn’t enmeshed in that scene just yet. We were kind of naive. We never expected any of it.”
He readily admits that having a break out video was instrumental in setting out his current career path. “At the time, none of us really had any idea what having a huge video meant for us. But that’s why I have a job now. It’s literally all because of that video, so I’m so thankful for it.” And although he now recognizes the power of YouTube and Vevo and what that means for the exposure of his work, he also feels it has limitations. “So much of a video’s popularity is about the cultural currency that the artist already has. I don’t learn anything from the amount of views. It’s hard to take it too seriously.”
What sets Prosofsky apart from most others in his profession is that he loves shooting on film. “It’s hard for me to talk about because it’s such a big issue right now. Film is dying and everyone knows it. There are very few people who are using it these days.” When asked why he prefers to shoot on film rather than digital, his answer is instinctual: “On paper it’s got more color fidelity than digital. It’s got more dynamic range than digital, which means it sees further into the shadows and highlights than digital. It’s a real picture, you know. It’s life hitting film.” Prosofsky’s in good company as even veteran directors such as Christopher Nolan, Paul Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino have all publicly criticized digital cinematography. “For me, the whole process [of film] is just really beautiful and it’s more real. I like the palette it gives me and it shows in the images. It’s almost timeless.”
When the conversation veers towards cinema, the passion in Prosofsky’s voice becomes unconcealed. “I could ramble on for days about this,” he says. “It comes down to the story. I’m always moved if it’s a good story.” One of Prosofsky’s idols includes Gus Van Sant’s long-time collaborator, Harry Savides, a cinematographer who passed away from brain cancer late last year. Savides worked extensively with Van Sant, including on the 2002 film “Gerry”, which Prosofsky calls pure cinema. “It’s a cinematographer’s dream. The definition of a cinematographer is telling the story and that is exactly what he does. There’s barely any dialogue. It’s all beautiful, magic hour, expansive, widescreen landscapes. But Savides doesn’t overdo it. It’s a really humble, simply photographed thing. To me, it’s perfect storytelling.”
He mentions the “amazing” Martin de Thurah (James Blake, David Byrne & St. Vincent) and Roman Gervais (M.I.A) as two of the directors he’d love the opportunity to work with. When asked what artists he’d like to work with, he confesses he’s flexible. “I could do anything. I just really like my job so I don’t care who I work with.” I throw out Justin Bieber. “That would be awesome,” Prosofsky says sincerely. “It would be great to do a pop video – as long as it’s visually compelling.”
As for what the future holds, well, Prosofsky, who has already produced his own short film entitled “Waterpark”, says he would love to get into big features. “I still love the experience of going to a theatre and the lights turn off and everyone has this shared experience together.” From what I can tell, he’s well on his way.
What started in an airplane hanger has now become something of an annual pilgrimage for music lovers seeking one of most diverse festivals in the world. Iceland Airwaves 2015 served up an array of both established and emerging hip-hop, rock, indie and electronic music. Even larger than last year, the festivities were stretched over five days, November 4th-8th with over 240 acts appearing in over 50 official/unofficial-venue sites across the long weekend. From hostels and record stores to the Reykjavík Art Museum, the majority of public spaces were transformed into a stage. The opening night was something of an Icelandic showcase, as Reykjavíkurdaetur (translation Reykjavík’s Daughter) unleashed it’s 13 piece all girl hip-hop collective earning rousing responses with an explosive set at NASA. Dressed in nude body suit’s the girls took turns passing the mics to trade verses and deliver hard choruses shouted in Icelandic. Much kike SXSW, bands take the opportunity to play several shows over the course of the festival. Milkywhale (formed by choreographer Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir and musician Árni Hlöðversson of FM Belfast) had a string of sets including the festival’s opening at the very packed Laundromat Cafe. The post-pop duo are Iceland’s equivalent of a slightly
We’ve all seen the bumper stickers – the line of rainbow coloured, collared bears dancing along the back of some asthmatic old car on its way to a festival. Beyond the bears, we’ve delighted in the genius ice cream flavour that is “Cherry Garcia,” or thought that wearing a wreath of red roses would be the perfect accessory to a rock show. The almost cult-like status of The Grateful Dead is so prevalent, so omnipresent, so engrained into our society that many people don’t even realize what the tie-dyed, trippy references harken back to. Which is a shame. Their music was innovative and spoke for a generation of young souls who couldn’t explain what escape they needed until they heard it booming out of a speaker during an acid trip. The idea of the Grateful Dead has somewhat taken over the music of the Grateful Dead for subsequent generations. Director Mike Fleiss has successfully managed to bring it back to the music with his new documentary The Other One. He lets the story of the band be told first-hand through the oft-overshadowed Bob Weir (lead singer, rhythm guitarist and writer) as well as 30 years worth of archive and interviews.