“Filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw wore multiple hats to capture the lives of truffle hunters in Italy’s Piedmont region, acting as directors, writers, producers and cinematographers.
“Dweck and Kershaw’s Oscar-shortlisted documentary The Truffle Hunters, which opens Friday in theaters, follows several elderly men who have devoted their lives to searching out the increasingly rare fungi. It took three years to capture the 107 shots that feature in the movie. Dweck and Kershaw wanted to present the documentary ‘like a storybook’ which was influenced by Italian Renaissance painters. Their goal was to immerse themselves in the world of the truffle hunters in order to for viewers to be equally captivated by that world.”
Source: Jazz Tangcay, Variety
AT A GLANCE:
Speaking with Variety artisans editor Jazz Tangcay, filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw discuss the making of their documentary feature, The Truffle Hunters. The duo spent three years in the remote Italian Piedmont region, building relationships with seven truffle hunters and their families.
“We didn’t come to this project with a story,” Kershaw tells Tangcay. “We just came to it with this fascination and this love for this place. And before we had any idea of what the story was going to be and how we were going to tell we just knew that we wanted to use cinema to capture a feeling.”
Comprised of lengthy shots that allow the rustic scenery and intimate indoor sequences to slowly unfold, visuals for the film were captured using a stationary Arri Alexa Mini paired with Angénieux lenses. “We rented the camera from an Italian rental house,” Dweck recounts. “They only had a tripod head from a 1960s Fellini movie. So the head weighed 30 kilos. We had a tripod that weighed 50 kilos, and we had a camera and lens that probably weighed another 50 kilos.”
Audio was also very important to the filmmakers. “We wanted to immerse the audience into the subjective experience of this place, and we had a creative sound person,” Dweck said. “We believed the soundscape of the film has equal weight to the narrative of the film.” Sound recordist Mirko Guerra faithfully recorded interior sounds like squeaky hinges and creaky floors as well as the echo of a marble floored kitchen, along with outdoor sounds such as dog barks, church bells, the wind in the trees, and bubbling streams.
Lighting was a subtractive process, influenced by Italian painters such as Caravaggio. “We would never light from the ground out,” Kershaw comments. “More often than not, instead of adding light, we were subtracting light. We traveled with two small sky panels and that was our entire lighting for the film.”
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