By Bill Zarchy
Roving Camera Press, $14.95, 216 pages
Bill Zarchy has done camera work all over the world, serving as director of photography, cameraman, and general tech for numerous projects. When it comes to shooting in a foreign land — sometimes without the proper gear or support, sometimes hampered by social mores, politics, or other obstacles — Bill is the go-to guy, and his hard-won advice and anecdotes are the backbone of Showdown at Shinagawa.
Whether it’s bowling in Japan or trying to direct his first feature in Manila, learning the Universal Language when working with a multilingual crew or chronicling the triumph of the human spirit in Uganda and India, Bill’s stories are well-written, sharp, and often quite charming. He doesn’t wax poetic or waste time with elaborate descriptions, instead choosing to make the most of each chapter by sharing his thoughts on each shoot and what he took away from the experience. Some might find that a bit dry, but I found it immensely sincere and readable.
These stories also double as a wonderful introduction to both the realities of on-location camerawork and the struggles you will encounter working in a wide variety of countries and climates. On the tech side, Bill’s tales are invaluable, offering insight into problem-solving on the fly, maintaining your equipment, taking advantage of opportunities when available, and occasionally bending the rules to get the job done.
On the human side, it’s fascinating to get Bill’s take on the idiosyncracies of different cultures when it comes to work, security, handling clients, and the art of cinematography. Plenty of his stories revolve not around technical or logistical problems, but miscommunication, cultural disparities, and the all-too-common human foible of not putting yourself in the shoes of others. (Bill’s dealings with Japanese clients in particular are hilarious, nonjudgmental accounts of different styles colliding.)
Part-handbook, part-guidebook, and part-storybook, Showdown at Shinagawa is great fun. Come for the stories, stay for the intriguing locales and comedic complications.
Sponsored Review by Glenn Dallas
- Release Date: 11/20/2013