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Litepanels sits down with the multi-talented filmmaker to talk inspiration, art and reflections on the past and future.

1. What inspired you and got you started in your career?

In 1987, my father brought home a Super VHS camcorder when they first came out and said, “You’re going to be in charge of documenting the family for me.” I really didn’t want anything to do with it at that moment. But once I picked the camera up, I never put it down. There are countless “shows,” commercials and music videos I made with all my siblings with that camera. That led to me experimenting in still photography (35mm and medium format) when I was a little older, which led to me applying to film school for undergrad at NYU.

2. What is one of your all time favorite scenes from a movie (not shot by you)?

Wow. There are so many. But one classic sequence that sticks with me always is the second to last shot in Antonioni’s The Passenger shot by Luciano Tovoli (ASC, AIC). It’s a super long tracking shot that lasts approximately 7 minutes. It starts in hotel room where Jack Nicholson is lying in bed, smoking a cigarette. Using a ceiling track and a crane, it goes out through the window (with bars) into the square, panning all the way around, telling us the story of what’s happening outside the room, unbeknownst to Nicholson. And then by the time the camera comes back into the hotel room, we find he has been killed. It’s so naturalistic and quiet, yet compelling at the same time. 

3. What is one of the most difficult shots you have ever had to create?

One of the most difficult shots I had to create was in the film Autumn Blood. We had to do a 35mm cable cam shot across the highest waterfall in the Tirolian Alps in the snow. It was tough to work hanging off the side of a mountain, and as it began snowing, we had our stunt girl crawling across a giant log over the waterfall. We only had a couple takes to get the shot, and I was on the wheels operating the cable cam. It was fun, but slightly stressful with the inclement weather and other variables.

4. Looking forward – if you could have one innovation delivered or product invented – what would it be?

This is a very basic thing, but I find I always want my filters to come in more grade variations. Like a 1.5. Then I’d have the actual amount of diffusion I want – as sometimes a 1 is not enough and 2 is oftentimes too much. Additionally, I’d like televisions to come without any presets, such as motion interpolation, turned on. It’s great to have those options, but they should not be default settings because then the look of our work is misrepresented.

5. If you hadn’t become a cinematographer, what career might you have pursued?

I think I would have been a fiction writer since I spent most of my school years writing. But I love music and was in a band in college… it’s possible I might’ve pursued that totally unrealistic avenue!


Reed’s credits include the feature films Frozen River, Yelling to the Sky, Little Birds, For Ellen, The Magic of Belle Isle, The Skeleton Twins, War Story, Kill Your Darlings, And So It Goes; the HBO series Looking; and documentaries such as Shut Up and Play the Hits and Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa. She recently directed her first feature film, Meadowland, starring Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Juno Temple, Elizabeth Moss and Giovanni Ribisi.