By Amelia Riley Swan
Photographer and director Vincent Laforet has already had a long and illustrious career in photography, becoming at the age of twenty-five the youngest New York Times photojournalist, and later on winning a Pulitzer Prize in photography. In recent years, Laforet has shifted focus to his film career, directing several short films, and he hopes to move into feature-length films soon. Laforet used his time at the Sundance Film Festival last week to push his career further in that direction as he met potential backers and sponsors, shared screenplay ideas, and figured out how to not only make a good movie, but also leverage emerging technology and the social network he’s built over the years.
As Laforet’s film career continues to grow, he finds his online presence to be more important than ever. “An online presence is critical,” he said. “You can’t get away without one anymore. If you don’t have a strong website, it’s really hard to get people to take you seriously.” At the foundation of Laforet’s online presence is his liveBooks website. He’s been using liveBooks for around three years and chose them because he felt it represented the industry standard and he liked the website’s “elegant interface that is not too distracting or overpowering.” Especially important to Laforet is how easy it is for him to integrate Vimeo videos into his liveBooks site, now that he is focusing on film. “I just like the way it’s a big company that is looking to be responsive to the market.”
Images from Vincent Laforet’s Website
While at Sundance, Laforet participated in a panel, sponsored by Adobe, on the future of filmmaking. Considering the company he was in and the importance of the discussion, Laforet said that the most exciting part was simply being invited to be part of it. This was not his first time working with Adobe; the two have worked together for close to a year now. Laforet was previously very involved with Apple, but once Final Cut Pro 10 was released, he looked for a different solution. “The Adobe Creative Suite offered me a lot of the tools I really needed, from after effects to native support of HDSLRs,” Laforet said of the switch, adding, “It was pretty much a no-brainer decision on my end.”
One of the things that have helped Laforet get into film is his enthusiasm to try prototype cameras. The opportunity is not something Laforet just fell into: “Canon never comes to you asking you to do a film for them. You really have to come up with an idea and pitch it to them.” In 2008, Laforet directed Reverie using a Canon 5D Mark II. “That [stemmed from] me seeing the prototype and begging them to let me borrow it.” After saying no seven times, Canon finally relented, giving Laforet the kick-start he needed: “That desire to basically beg and grovel led to one of the biggest changes of my career.” Most recently, Laforet asked Canon for the chance to shoot a short film using their new prototype camera and was given the opportunity to use the Canon C300.
ABOUT THE CANON C300 AND MOBIUS
Laforet came up with the short film Mobius for the C300 project. The film follows a photojournalist who happens upon a cartel execution. “Mobius is the first piece I’m relatively proud of,” Laforet said. “There’s nothing I’ve shot in the past four years that I’m happy with. Reverie was good for what it was, but nothing else is really to the standards that I want to live by.” To respect the strict budget and time restrictions, Laforet chose to shoot in the desert rather than on an expensive Los Angeles lot, kept the script relatively simple, and limited the number of actors. “It was a busy set because we had fifty to sixty set-ups a day, which is very high. It was back-to-back work, yet I think most people would admit to having a really nice time. There was a lot of laughing and joking on set, which is always a good sign,” Laforet said of his experience shooting Mobius.
Compared to the photo shoots of his past, Laforet finds shooting video much more complex. As video shoots involve many more people than photo shoots, more responsibility falls on the director. “It’s a wonderful collaborative process in which you really can’t pretend to know what you’re doing. As a director, you have to have a really clear view of what you want, because you have to communicate that far in advance to the crew,” Laforet explained. Because of this, Laforet has found that film involves much more pre-production than photography: “90% of the work is done before you ever step foot on set.”
On the set of Mobius, Laforet had all five C300 prototypes available to him, as the potential for problems was high since they were shooting in 120-degree in the Mojave Desert. ”We were betting on these things breaking down. The reality is that it worked out just fine.” In addition to its durability, Laforet found that the dynamic range of the C300’s sensor was an especially attractive feature, and a vast improvement from the 5D. “All of the things you would expect from a professional camera are built-in,” Laforet said. “It’s probably one of the best, if not the best, low-light performing cameras in the world right now. That’s no small feat. For documentary photographers, it’s a dream camera.” According to Laforet, the biggest limitation for the C300 is its price. A Canon 5D costs $2,500, whereas the C300 is around $16,000. Although it might not then be the camera for photographers just making the transition into film, Laforet said, “I think it’s definitely a natural transition to go from the 5D system to this camera.”
THE FUTURE OF LAFORET
Laforet also recently launched an App. The app, available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, contains collections of his most recognizable images with detailed technical information and video interviews with Laforet explaining the stories behind them. Users can use any of the images as their background or screensaver, and order limited edition prints.
“We all know the Hollywood system is a bit broken right now, and people are scrambling to figure out what the next way of reaching audiences is,” Laforet said. With the help of liveBooks, he plans to be very active on this front when it comes to advancing his film career, “while not losing sight of the fact that at the end of the day, a good movie is a good movie.” As Laforet moves further into the realm of filmmaking, his mobile and online presence with liveBooks can be expected to grow with him.
To view Laforet’s work, including Mobius, visit www.laforetvisuals.com