UPDATE, JUNE 2024, from David: Strobist was archived in 2021. Here is what I am up to now.


Don't Miss: Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

©Gregory Crewdson

I posted about filmmaker Ben Shapiro's documentary, Brief Encounters, when it was first released. I have finally gotten a chance to see it and wanted to make sure as many of you as possible did, too.

For those of you not familiar with photographer Gregory Crewdson's work, he meticulously creates his photographs on an epic scale. For instance, that photo above is completely staged—and lit. As in, they lit the whole freakin' street scene.

Below, the film's trailer, an extended clip, and how to catch this worthwhile documentary in its cross-country, limited-release tour.


The Ultimate BTS

Long story short, if you are reading this site, you should find a way to get to see this movie. It's the ultimate behind-the-scenes film. And at an hour and 17 minutes, is able to go much more in depth that you are used to seeing on the 'net.

Ben Shapiro spent some serious time with Crewdson in making Brief Encounters, and the resulting portrait is deep and layered. You'll not only see the technical BTS stuff, but also get a look at the thought process behind his amazing, evocative photos. And most important, you'll see the dedication with which he approaches the production of his large-scale (and large format) images.

The Trailer

Below is the official trailer, which gives you a pretty good indication of the scope and feel of the film. If you enjoy the trailer, you'll like the movie. (Michael Bay and J. J. Abrams could take a note in this area . . .)

A Two-Minute Clip

Director Ben Shapiro called to say that a clip from the film had been made available:

Just like speedlights at sunset, right? Only on a much, much bigger scale.

What the heck, here's another one. Like to build sets? So do they:

Where to See It

The bad news: It is not getting a wide release, nor one timed to a certain date. In fact, it's already out in the wild, existing largely below the radar.

Hopefully, it'll eventually wind up on Netflix or some other doc channel where it can be seen easily by many. But as for now you have to keep an eye out to know when it can be seen in your area. And for those of you not in the US, it looks like you will still have to wait.

The good news: It is actually getting a lot of (admittedly, brief) showings around the US. Below is a listing of upcoming locations. But be warned: some are coming up very soon and almost all are one- or two-day events. You snooze, you lose.

Upcoming locations include:

Phoenix AZ, Los Angeles CA, Rohnert Park CA, Denver CO, Wilmington DE, Honolulu HI, Chicago IL, Evanston IL, Rockland ME, Provincetown MA, Detroit MI, Three Rivers MI, Santa Fe NM, Taos NM, Huntington NY, Ithaca NY, New York NY, Cleveland OH, Columbus OH, Bend OR, Portland OR, Philadelphia PA, Memphis TN, Austin TX, Ft. Worth TX, Houston TX, Madison WI, Milwaukee WI

You can find the full (and frequently changing) screening location info page here.

Should You See It?

If it is in your city and you read this site: no-brainer, go see it. It is probably not going to be exactly what you expect, but as a photographer I found it both compelling and valuable, as well as beautiful.

How far should you drive to see it? Depends on how into this kind of stuff you are. If you are an art photographer with a technical bent and want an amazing case study to explore, yeah, I'd suggest driving an hour to see it. Hook up with another local photog to lighten the journey. Make an evening out of it.

But one way or another, I'd recommend the film to all within earshot. It is not often we get this kind of opportunity to go under the hood with a photographer like this.


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