Cinematographer Dejan Georgevich ASC on his favorite Chimera accessories for working productions worldwide
With talents that extend far beyond those of a typical cinematographer, including four spoken languages, jet-setting DP Dejan Georgevich ASC has been working worldwide for more than two decades. As cinematographer as well as director, he has put together hundreds of award-winning commercials and industrials for a stellar list of clients, like AT&T, HBO, Toyota and Nissan. Almost as well known for his network of industry friends as his talents behind the camera, Georgevich also does his best to contribute to the filmmaking and production community. He’s a mentor to many of the students that have passed through his classes, not only in the classroom at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he runs Advanced Production as well as Advanced Lighting and Cinematography, but also in many of the union workshops that he has led throughout the years as Co-Chair for the Eastern Region Education and Training Committee and National Executive Board Member at the ICG.
DG with Varicam LT in front of red brick mansion Llewellyn Park, NJ TV pilot, “Once in a Lifetime” location.
Did you think he was done there? Georgevich is also a standout member in the Local 600 IATSE and the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and he was recipient of the 2012 Deluxe Bud Stone Award from the International Cinematographers Guild for his teaching contributions to the art and craft of cinematography. “Nothing is more satisfying than when you travel anywhere around the world and, much like a jazz musician, you’re meeting new players when you get on stage wherever you’re shooting,” Georgevich says, “and the beauty is if you can harmonize to do something really good.”
His portfolio has brought him home more than twenty industry awards as well as an Emmy nomination in 1998 for the documentary film My Sergei, which came only four years after a stunning professional debut as cinematographer for the classic 1994 HBO documentary, Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World. The film had a narration from Maya Angelou and featured an interview with freedom-fighter Nelson Mandela, who was hiding from the authorities at the time as they were trying to stop him from becoming South African President, which happened only a few weeks later. Georgevich had to film from a secret location to get access.
He has also helmed several other notable documentaries, including the well-regarded PBS special, A Wayfarer’s Journey: Listening to Mahler, and, Ordinary Miracles: The Photo League’s New York, which won Best Film that year at the 2013 Amsterdam Film Festival. The talented DP is also very well known in the world of episodics. He has done work for several absolutely historic television shows like The Family, Blacklist, Gossip Girl, Elementary and The Book of Daniel. After twenty years of top notch work, his feature and short film roster is also rife with high caliber talent from the likes of Richard Dreyfuss, Bobby Cannavale, J.K. Simmons, Peter Stormare, Marcia Gaye Harden, Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Kline, Rita Moreno, Amanda Plummer and Treat Williams, just to name a few.
DG shooting Harry Winston jewelry commercial
“I think it’s important that the fabric and the materials can withstand abuse and Chimera does.”
Last February, for the unveiling of the new VariCam LT at the DGA in Hollywood, Panasonic tapped Georgevich to put together his own short with the camera that would highlight the lowlight capabilities. He elected to construct a ghostly fable for the short, “To Each His Dulcinea”, where a boxer is haunted by the woman of his dreams, chasing after her to the top of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse before she mysteriously disappears in a subtle homage to Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
Rather than a bulky Steadicam stabilization system running up a staircase would have required, the camera’s lightweight ergonomics enabled Georgevich and the production to go handheld with the VariCam LT up the narrow staircase and into Sandy Hook’s brightly-lit lantern room. (The lighthouse is a precarious location to break anything, to say the least. When not a shooting location, it’s also the oldest working lighthouse in America.)
As little sister to the Panasonic VariCam 35, the VariCam LT has a dual base ISO of 800/5000, which provides a very low noise floor whether shooting at low or high sensitivity settings. As a DP that works so often with light, Georgevich is understandably excited about the possibilities of this new class of hyper-sensitive cameras. He says he was initially skeptical until he did tests, finding incredibly that his favored sweet spot in the LT for lowlight situations was an ISO rating of 2500.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse –“To Each His Dulcinea”
When shooting the series Elementary, he remembers a similar experience when he first used the ARRI Alexa. He was literally blown away at how sensitive the digital sensor read and the team immediately had to back off on the strength of the traditional lighting they had been using. “Even more-so now!” he laughs. “Now you’re focusing on blending and balancing a lot less light to the existing location practicals for an organic and well-motivated look. It was only five or six years ago that you would walk down Columbus Avenue here in New York and the lighting for a night scene would require a condor and 20,000 watts of light.”
For a project in Los Angeles, he lit a line of woods for a nighttime scene and says that he was able to hit the Home Depot to gather most of his power needs. “On our shoots recently I’ve been going with putt-putts,” he says. “Normally I would had to have tungsten-based or HMI lights with a 1200 amp generator.” Georgevich, who owns several Chimera Universal LED TECH Lightbanks, coupled them with Litepanels Astra 1×1 LED panels to highlight the woods and foreground structures. “Six to eight years ago,” he continues, “we would have had a condor here with several Mole Richardson skypans accent lighting the woods to do the same thing.”
Georgevich says that he has also used the ubiquitously-sized Chimera LED TECH Lightbanks with 1×1’ sized remote-phosphor panels from Cineo Lighting. As a fan of Chimera lighting products more or less since he began work as a DP, he has had plenty of opportunities to familiarize himself with the extensive and historic line of lighting accessories. “When I did my TV series Mercy, in particular, I remember that I used the Pancake Lantern boxes,” he says, “I love them. I find they work beautifully as fill, or I can alternate and reuse them as a key.”
Chimera Lightbanks come in handy for him when a soft, pleasing look is needed, like with commercial and beauty work. He says he will often use Chimera accessories to create a “wall of soft light” to achieve the bright, soft and flattering beauty look for talent that productions are often looking for. In another favorite setup, he will mount the Chimera 20” Lantern Light Bank on a dimmer right above the lens to deliver a pleasing wraparound for wrinkles and close-ups of skin no matter the subject’s age.
Georgevich has kept up with the company because he says that they, in turn, stay ahead of the times with their lighting accessories. But it’s the durability of Chimera products that have made him so enthusiastic about having his own set. “Whether it’s halogen, whether it’s tungsten or whether it’s LEDs,” he says, “we’re working fast in television and features, and equipment gets thrown around a lot. I think it’s important that the fabric and the materials can withstand this type of abuse and Chimera does.”
DG lining up a shot for “To Each His Dulcinea” / Dumbo, Brooklyn location
Georgevich frequently organizes union meet ups and often keeps in contact with the students he has mentored, as well, who have graduated and gone on to work on productions like The Great Gatsby. He’s equally excited about the ASC, where he has been a member since 2006. “The ASC is an outstanding community of cinematographers,” he says. “There’s a genuine camaraderie among the members which I find astounding and just wonderful and quite nourishing. As an organization, it’s really committed to giving back and promoting the science, aesthetics and the education of cinematography.”
As Co-Chair for the Eastern Region Education and Training Committee, he often moderates IATSE 600 classes himself, including an installment on camera operation not too long ago where he invited several of his many friends from the industry to demonstrate different genres of production. The class featured five different camera operators sharing their diverse experiences ranging from feature films,TV episodics, reality television to B-camera. Georgevich, who started working with professional productions as far back as junior high, claims that it’s the organizations responsibility to keep their members highly competent with up to date state-of-the-art equipment and changing practices.
“We had a good turnout considering it’s the summertime!” he laughs. “After being a DP for so many years now, it’s an opportunity for me to demonstrate and to participate in training… What’s more, the School of Visual Arts prides itself in having teachers who are working professionals, so I do get a bit of flexibility to balance the two lives. I’ve been teaching on and off for twenty years, but it’s allowed me to step away and do a pilot or a TV show or a feature film. At the same time, I gain and benefit from having students from all over the world, many from Asia, and from Europe, and so I’m introduced to different cultural and generational influences stylistically and aesthetically. It’s mutually beneficial and I enjoy it.”