Seen behind the scene / Forty years of photographing on set / Mary Ellen Mark
Phaidon Press, Sep 2, 2013 - Photography - 263 pages
Since the 1960s Mary Ellen Mark has worked on over 100 film sets as what the film studios call a 'special stills photographer', making thousands of documentary photographs of life behind the scenes, rather than the conventional still photographs made of actors on camera. This exciting book presents the best of her images ranging from the first films that Mark shot in the 1960s such as Fellini's Satyricon, to legendary 1970s productions like Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as well as films from the ensuing decades that range from Network to Tootsie, from Gandhi to Showgirls. She continues to work on film sets and over the last decade has photographed recent Oscar-winning productions such as Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel and Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd.
Over her career, Mark has been given unprecedented access to the film sets she has worked on, roaming freely among cast and directors, and photographing in make-up, during rehearsals, on the set and off the set to provide a full picture of life behind the scenes. Her experience over the last forty years reveals much about the changes in film-making. She recalls in her introduction how she loved to photograph the director's reaction and interaction during rehearsal when he was behind the camera; but now in contemporary film-making the director is nowhere near the camera, but rather in front of a video monitor away from the set. Her iconic 1960s portraits of Fellini behind his camera fix this moment in film history and are evidence of the changes in technology.
Mark's 1960s, 1970s and 1980s portraits also reveal the changing nature of celebrity. When she first started working she would be just another person on set with full access to every cast member and every set. Now with the massive power and impact of celebrity it has become more difficult for photographers to work on set, when actors are constantly surrounded by their entourage of publicists and agents and have their schedules carefully planned with every minute accounted for. In this current climate Mark's more recent, candid pictures of major celebrities such as Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Nicole Kidman are rare and particularly special.
The text for the book comes from a number of high profile actors, directors and film industry professionals who complete this picture of life 'behind the scenes' by sharing their anecdotes and thoughts about their profession. Among these engaging texts, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno remembers how Fellini fled in fear of the white horse in Satyricon, Sofia Coppola recalls growing up on set with her father, and Helen Mirren eloquently describes the disconcerting experience of night shoots to complete this insight into the world of film-making.