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Cinematographer, director, producer
Interview by Thierry ATTARD.
Special thanks to Stephen TOBOLOWSKY
and Nathalie PLANSON.

Robert Brinkmann is one of Hollywood’s most talented and innovative cinematographers. In the eighties he formed his own company to produce music videos on which he was also director of photography (for prestigious artists like Celine Dion or Placido Domingo). In 1988 he contributed to the History of rock music, working with director Phil Joanou on the rockumentary U2 : Rattle and Hum.

His filmography includes films directed by Ben Stiller, Michael Lehman or John McNaughton. Now Robert Brinkmann offers us his first movie as a director, Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, a magnificent moment of pure cinema. The DVD of this film will be available on May 30, 2006.

Objectif Cinéma : You were born in Germany. Could you please tell us a few words of your life before your arrival in the US ?

Robert Brinkmann : I have always wanted to get away and escape. As a young child, I developed a habit of going to the weekend movie matinees at one of the local theatres - I was too young to go in the evening - and watched japanese monster movies there every Sunday at 10:00. I guess you could say it was my church.

When I was 15, I moved out of my parents house and was old enough to go to the local revival house almost every day. I spent so much time there, that they offered me a job. As soon as I had finished school, I was on a plane to New York. I lived there for a year and saw an average of two films a day in the beautiful revival houses that were there back then.

Objectif Cinéma : At the time what were your favorite US and german movies ?

D.R.Robert Brinkmann : The first film, which made me realize that there was more to films than monsters, was Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. I was 15 at the time and remember the moment I understood that there can be poetry in cinema. My favourite filmmaker back then was neither german nor american - I loved, and still do, everything that Roman Polanski did (and does.) I also adored the films of Werner Herzog, particularly Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Woyzeck, and Wim Wenders’ Kings of the Road and Alice in the Cities.

Objectif Cinéma : At the University of Southern California you specialized in cinematography. Why were you attracted by this speciality ? Did you plan to become a director then ?

Robert Brinkmann : Like every film student entering film school, I wanted to be a director. Unfortunately, I am a lazy writer. The films I did make were very esoteric and hard for people to relate to, but they always looked good. Eventually I realized, that not every film student can be a director ; there have to be editors, sound mixers and cinematographers as well.