Your interest in photography and arts was visible since early age. How did you understand that you want to be a cinema photographer?
I have had a camera in my hands since I can remember. My grandfather had an old Fox German Camera which was in the late 50S and as kid, when I was just about eight or nine years old, I was taking pictures of things, of everything that I saw then I would go and develop it either to close photography, wide photography, nature, people, moving cars, I always had a camera in my hand but I was always watching movies which I dont think kids of my age used to watch. Black and white movies from the 20s and 30s and silent films. I used to study films and I love films plus photography then it occurred to me that I could try to make movies as well; this idea came to me while I was a kid. My uncle once asked me what I would do with all the photography stuff just when I was 12 years old and he told me I could be a cinematographer. I dint know what that meant so I went and looked it up and realized that they were people who were being paid to take photographs, but I was young and couldnt understand the whole thing. So everything started from there and after high school I started looking for colleges, volunteering fro works on film just for free in colleges that taught film making and everything started from there.
In the very beginning of your career which style did you work in?
I started off as a camera assistant, I got my bachelors degree in cinematography in 1988 in California Institute of Arts then I joined the International Film and became a camera assistant in 1989 and worked as a camera assistant for ten years. I got my masters degree ten years later. I met a producer once and my movie career started there.
A big part of your cinematographer career is connected with horror movies. How did this experience influence your personal life?
I am not a huge fan of horror or zombie movies, I generally like good story movies. Considering the fact that we were doing successful horror movies, that opened the door for me and I got the chance to participate in more movies. I even ventured into directing. Its affected my professional life by giving me more roles and platform and recognition I did not have before and allowed me to pursue other dreams, I wrote a book, published it, it opened up my horizons.
While working on a movie you have to communicate and associate with numerous different people with their own ideas, characters, and beliefs. Was it hard for you to avoid misunderstandings with other staff?
Misunderstandings always exist between people. The film industry isnt about the script or equipment as such, its a team sport. Its a team thing and one has to develop communicational skills and personality skills to improve your relationships with other people. However, as a director you have to be a hard dictator but at the same time, you must make everyone else feel heard and appreciated. Arguments are cleaned up and cleared up; its right to acknowledge mistakes and this will make people to get behind you.
Which factors influenced your interest in Saw movie?
It was the challenge of getting them done within such a short time, getting all the traps set within a short time and making sure the photography takes place as quickly as possible. Some scenes could not be replicated easily so the challenge was it getting it right the first time.
What is the reason for Saw VI being your last time to work as a cinematographer of these series?
I was looking to do other things and my camera operator for my saw movies was also a great cinematographer so he took the mantle from me. I wanted him to do the Saw 7 in HD and since it was the last one, I let him do it. He deserved it.
Your works became parts of numerous exhibitions around the world. Which one do you believe was the most successful for your career?
Mine has and is still a constant journey and every day I strive to get better, I still have not made the perfect film and consequently, I really do not have the most successful movie of my career yet.
Lighting can make a big difference and it requires more skills that many people think. Can you give some advice for your photographers about lightning set up and the major peculiarities of it?
Lighting has to tell the story, it has to support what you are doing and make the audience feel as if they are participating in it. The lighting should tell the world what the director is explaining. Telling the story is the most important aspect of a movie and the lighting should complement that. A good movie is when the audience gets lost in it.
In 2002 you released a book All Day, Every Day. The works you included in it were not in your usual style. Can you tell us more about them?
No. I did not release such a book and I do not know what its about but then there are other Armstrong out there.
How did your personal life influence the style you work in and your career development in general?
I still dont know my style but traditional storytelling and classics have been my thing. Classic film making is my thing.
You got to work with James Van. What do you think about him? Was it easy to understand each other?
James is great and I met him just after he came out of school. We hit it off at once but at the first saw we have very few resources and finances and most things that James wanted to do, we couldnt as we didnt have the time or the money. We have still maintained a close friendship relationship up to now with him and he is a great person.12. Who are the directors in world cinema especially that you're tracking? Did you ever have a chance to see a Turkish movie? Did you have any information about Turkish Directors?
I have never seen Turkish movies and if I have then I really dont know.
13. Young filmmakers on the industry do you have any suggestions?
You should be a good person. Being mean and refusing to listen to other people suggestions will only make things hard for you.
14. How did you decide to be an instructor at New York Film Academy? How many years are you here? I have been here a year and a half and I know lots of people here, we worked with most of them in my early days and this is a school I really like.
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