Asude: Hi Justin, thank you for giving us the opportunity to have a chat with you! We, as edelkrone team, are a fan of your work. That’s why, we’d like to get to know you much better. So, could you give us a brief background about yourself and more importantly, how did you get started with cinematography?
Julien: I was born on June 7, 1983 in a small town just North of Toronto. I had always been interested in cinematography from a young age. I started out on a mini-VHS camera filming as much as I could making little movies. Used it as an excuse to get out of doing written projects in school by making videos.
A: Pretty smart move! :) How did cinematography become a real job for you? How did you get recognition?
J: The first project I got recognition for was a 1st place award for WSIB (Workers Safety Insurance Board) when I was still in high school. Second to that was winning a ski and snowboard film festival in Collingwood for a short film I created. I started out in VFX and as an assistant editor working in documentary. Worked my way up to full time editor and was constantly having my work torn apart by my senior editor. He taught me what it means to work towards perfection on every level. I was constantly hearing him complain about how bad the camera operators were on the shoots. I, in turn, learned how to tell a story and shoot from editing poor footage. Eventually, I started going out on shoots assisting the cameramen, worked my way up to BCAM op, then ACam.
A: So, using your knowledge and understanding of movement, you branched out to become an award-winning Director of Photography. Could you please explain us your filmmaking style a bit?
J: Having a background in editing has driven my storytelling. And, a background in VFX has been helpful in knowing what can be done on set and off. I am a professional snowboarder and also spent many years in breakdancing which has led to a distinct style and understanding of how people move and how to choreograph the camera with the action.
A: Let’s talk about a little bit about behind the scenes! What are the preparations you make before you begin filming?
J: I make a list of everything necessary. I don’t like being unprepared. I run through the day in my head of all the possible things that could go wrong to pre-emptively have solutions.
A: Do you prefer buying or renting your filmmaking equipment?
J: It depends on the project, budgets and requirements. There is something to be said for having certain tools that you know inside and out that are reliable. Also, something to be said for not owning everything so that you aren’t forced into using items that may not be the right tool just because you own them.
A: What’s the equipment you generally bring to a set?
J: It depends on the shoot. But for years now, the edelkrone SliderPLUS has been a valuable tool that goes on every shoot I’m on.
A: Are you involved in the post production process?
J: I tend to stay out of this department and just advise around the creative, letting the specialist choose the software they feel most comfortable with.
A: You are a well-known cinematographer having won multiple awards. What is the best piece of advice you could give to other filmmakers?
J: Filmmaking is a collaborative endeavour. Everyone involved is doing this because they love film (ideally) so recognize and appreciate everyone on the team and never lose track of why you got into this in the first place.
A: What do you think about the future of filmmaking with the technology is advancing so fast?
J: It’s exciting but truly a mission to stay current and on top of it all.
A: Your recent work includes documentaries and music videos for The Toronto Blue Jays, Golfers Mike Weir, Jason Day, Jim Furyk, Graeme Mcdowell, Coca Cola, BMW, WWF, Metric, The Arkells and the feature action film 'On The Ropes'. What’s your biggest ambition for the future?
J: I recognize the power that we have as cinematographers and storytellers. More importantly the impact that our work can have on the world. Sure, I still do projects that are meant to entertain and love the challenges that they come with. However, when you can tell a story that truly makes a difference and use the power that you have to visually say something that makes a change and positively impacts the lives of people - That really means something. No award, or monetary value can compare to knowing that you’ve made a difference. It’s important to not lose sight of that.