Never Met Picasso

“nicely composed cinematography”
   – The Boston Globe, November 28, 1997

“colorful lensing”
   – Variety, June 24, 1996

Never Met Picasso is a feature-length film written and directed by Stephen Kijak with an ensemble cast including Alexis Arquette, Georgia Ragsdale, Margot Kidder, Keith David and Don McKeller. The film is most easily described as a unique alternative family values drama. I worked in the role of cinematographer during production and as post-production supervisor during post-production. The film screened at numerous festivals throughout 1996 and 1997 including the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and OUTfest ’97 in Los Angeles, where it earned awards for “Best Screenplay” and “Best Actor” for Alexis Arquette. Beginning in the Fall of 1997 and through 1998 Never Met Picasso made theatrical art-house runs in several U.S. cities. It was released to Home Video in 1998 and is available in VHS and DVD.

Left to right: Stephen Kijak (director), Patrick Quinn (1st A.C.), Beck Hoehn (2nd A.C.) and yours truly. Key crew not pictured: Rolf Solstad (Gaffer), Michael Dynice (Key Grip), Alec Jarnagin & Jeff Silverman (Steadicam Operators).

Stephen asked me to create a painterly look for the film and I borrowed a lot from Caravaggio and Vermeer. I shot the film in Super 16 using Kodak 7293, a medium speed stock with a tight grain characteristic good for the eventual blow-up to 35mm. For camera support we used a Chapman Super Pee-Wee dolly, however, for the party scenes and the gallery opening a Steadicam was used. A large portion of the film was lensed using a 25mm Zeiss Super Speed and a 35mm Zeiss Super Speed for close-ups. Some of the wider shots required the use of a 16mm prime due to space constraints on location. The cinematography is 100% zoom free with no artificial additives or effects.The lighting package consisted of a 2500W HMI PAR and three 1200W HMI PARs complimented by a 3 ton tungsten lighting, grip and electric package, customized for the needs of the production. On some days we had a 4K HMI PAR and a 6K HMI Fresnel which facilitated shooting night for day interiors. In addition, theatrical lighting instruments were used for the gallery opening scene as well as the theater scenes. We shot 837 “takes” during 23 twelve hour production days.