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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



IFFI 2018, VI: Meet Canadian cinematographer Pierre Gill

IFFI 2018, VI: Meet Canadian cinematographer Pierre Gill

“I hope I get to work in India soon as I am amazed by some technically complex movies from India,” said Cinematographer Pierre Gill at a press conference held on 26 November 2018 as part of the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

Gill continued, “My passion for cinema comes mostly from storytelling. Storytelling makes me dream. A good story or good script brings out the creativity in me. It’s a privilege to work in cinema; my passion comes from creating images but it comes mostly from storytelling. Storytelling makes me dream. A good story or good script brings out the creativity in me. I start imagining images when I read. Bringing those ideas into reality is the most difficult part,” he explained.

Speaking on his experience in the making of Blade Runner 2049, he said “My unit worked on stunts, explosion, flying ships and underwater sequences and I used the green screen technique to a large extent. The whole experience was really fun, due to the big scale of the movie. Movies like Blade Runner give you the opportunity to try all the latest equipment.”

Stating that he freely embraces diverse cinematic genres, he said, “I like to do everything; I don't want to do the same job; I like it when I can change, variation keeps one healthy”. Replying to a question on what types of films make for the most difficult cinematography, Gill said that films like Polytechnique are challenging, as they have hard drama. “When you have to be real and true and strong: that is when it is the hardest; you cannot put sparkles on human drama”, noted Gill.

He said the role of cinematographers is “…very very important”; they have to do a lot more than lighting; they need to focus on the aspects the director wants, but at the same time need to challenge the director and help him to better enable the audience to follow the story properly.

Here is Gill advising budding cinematographers, “You have to be very strong; it is going to be a very difficult life. The life of cinematographer is by the second. Also, you have to travel a lot. Don't do it for the money; money will come if you do well. I refuse to accept any apprentice who asks me how much money will I make? You have to be a very good psychologist as well, since you have to deal with a lot of departments and have to be always on toes to attend to their questions. You have to be very open-minded. You have to be humble; if you don't know, you must be able to say "I don't know”.

He had praise for new technologies coming in, but was unhappy about the bad way in which technology is used by some cinematographers. He opined that though digital cameras are good for indoor shoots, film continues to be the best option for exterior shoots.

Replying to a question by this writer, he said that point of view was perhaps the toughest decision to make on a film shoot. Is it going to be a character’s POV or the audience's? If it is the character’s POV, we must place the camera where the character might have been or very near him/her. But it’s a tough call.


Pierre Gill, a Montréal native, is a cinematographer and assistant director, known for Upside Down (2012), Casanova (2015) and Polytechnique (2009). He is a member of Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC).

Gill began his career at age 24, by co-founding Kino Films, a successful production company producing commercials and music videos. Since then, he worked with many talented film and television directors including Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Denis Villeneuve, Charles Binamé, Erik Canuel, Jean-Marc Vallée, working on such films as Black List, The Art of War, Lost and Delirious, The Rocket, Polytechnique and Upside Down.  He is closely associated with Cinema of Quebec. 

The cinematographer has been honoured over 35 times by both the American (A.S.C.) and the Canadian (C.S.C.) Societies of Cinematography, and attended many prestigious international film festivals. He also obtained the prestigious Kodak New Century Award for his outstanding contribution to the art of cinematography.   He served as the second unit director of photography (DOP) on Villeneuve's iconic Blade Runner 2049, a follow up to the classic 1982 film, directed by Ridley Scott, which won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

He has also directed episodes of the television series Charlie Jade and the made-for-television film The Last Casino. Pierre Gill is recognised for his diverse skills, his cinematic eye, and his efficiency on a set.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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