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New York Times: Fourteen Actors Acting - A video Gallery of Classic Screen Types

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New York Times produced a video gallery of classic screen types called Fourteen Actors Acting which features Javier Bardem, Matt Damon, Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, James Franco, Jesse Eisenberg, Natalie Portman and others.

All videos were shot on Red Epic & Red One directed by Solve Sundsbo. NY Times won a News and Documentary Emmy for the “Fourteen Actors Acting” portfolio.

Karly Domb Sadof wrote on The New York Times: “The Hurt Locker,” winner of the 2010 Oscar for best picture, took 131 minutes to unfold. What kind of story can be told in just one minute?

With a gifted performer, quite a story indeed. From Tilda Swinton’s agonized Joan of Arc turn to James Franco’s suave self-seduction, the minutes add up to a kind of minifestival in “Fourteen Actors Acting: A Video Gallery of Classic Screen Types.” These brief clips portray not only the art, but also the joy and vigor of performance.

They were directed by Solve Sundsbo of Norway, whose clients as a fashion photographer have included Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana. The videos accompany the black-and-white portraits Mr. Sundsbo shot for “The Scene Makers: Actors Who Defined Cinema in 2010,” in the Hollywood Issue of The New York Times Magazine.


“You’re going from making iconic images to creating narratives,” he said, “but there is less of a narrative capacity in 60 seconds, so you need to create something like a poem that can lead your imagination.”

Kathy Ryan, the magazine’s photo editor, put the challenge simply: “We had to get somewhere really quickly with an impact. And it had to be beautiful.” Earlier magazine issues devoted to great performers have featured the work of Paolo Pellegrin and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, among others.

This is the first time that video has been as significant as the print portfolio. Ms. Ryan said she knew from the beginning that she did not want this year’s performers simply to sit for a portrait. “Celebrity portraiture demands reinvention,” she said.

That included the addition of music, which was composed by Owen Pallett, a Canadian musician, and recorded in Prague by the Czech Symphony Strings.


“Music can steer what people see in a picture,” Ms. Ryan said. “It can drastically re-chart the direction the picture was taking the person.” A lively scene can turn menacing in just a few beats. And a visually suspenseful image can be made comical by just one chord.”

The process of writing the music for each video was instinctive, Mr. Pallett said. “As soon as the image hit my eyes I knew automatically.” However, his collaboration with a print publication and a photographer wasn’t crystal clear for everyone.

“I had a really hard time explaining the gig to my grandma,” Mr. Pallett said. “She was like, ‘Why are you writing music for a magazine?’”


Source/images: The New York Times