Thursday, May 24, 2018

John Madden

John Madden, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2005

MOVIE DIRECTORS ALWAYS SEEM MORE GRATEFUL TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED than the stars of their movies. This might be speculation, or perhaps even projection - if I spent my life behind the camera making other people look smart or glamorous, I think I'd be grateful for a moment of recognition. But then, I think being a movie director is probably a lot more interesting than being a movie star.

John Madden is one of those products of the London TV and theatre scene who find their way to Hollywood to feed the movie industry's voracious appetite for talent. He's known for directing literary and historical properties - he started his Hollywood career with an adaptation of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, then had a huge hit with Shakespeare In Love. He was at the festival with Proof, a film about madness and academia starring Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hope Davis.

John Madden, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2005

I try to make movie directors look good - or at least interesting. As ever, I had barely a minute for this portrait, which I'm pretty certain was taken at the old Four Seasons. Helpfully, Madden showed up wearing a dark blazer and a white shirt - probably the most helpful wardrobe choice a male subject can make for a portrait, if time is of the essence.

The white walls of the hotel suite meant that enough light bounced around the room to soften the shadows and create the sort of clean lighting scheme that I'd need a big soft box and a couple of small modifying lights to create in a studio. That part was luck.

As for the composition, I simply rewound back to the sorts of shots I remember photographers like Anton Corbijn and Kevin Cummins would do for the New Musical Express back in the '80s - tight shots that were basically one or two lines cutting through the frame at an angle. When you don't have any time for a portrait, you have to rely on this sort of shorthand.

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