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Shooting the Hip: The Cinematography of Sean Price Williams

“When a DP has their thing or their look I think they get hired to do just that thing. I would rather be more amorphous and always try something different and try not to make something my thing.”

American cinematographer Sean Price Williams has shot an abundance of significant independent films in recent history, working with some of the most accomplished filmmakers of the 21st century—including Josh and Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, Michael Almereyda, Alex Ross Perry, Robert Greene, and more, not to mention his collaborations with pioneering master Albert Maysles and recent output with seminal filmmaker Abel Ferrara. Shooting on both film and digital and operating across various genres, in both fiction and documentary, Williams has become widely known for his striking use of color and texture, and the framing of his actors and subjects. This series celebrates Williams’ eclectic talent by showcasing the styles and subjects that have made him the preeminent independent cinematographer of the present.

JOBE'Z WORLD

Michael M. Bilandic United States, 2018

Michael M. Bilandic’s chaotic comedy is a perfect descent into a bygone era of NYC weirdos. Set to Paul Grimstad’s lo-fi score, Sean Price Williams’ hazy images illuminate sublime performances from Jason Grisell and Theodore Bouloukos in this insomniac thrill ride.

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THE COLOR WHEEL

Alex Ross Perry United States, 2011

Before Listen Up Philip, Queen of Earth, and Her Smell, indie director Alex Ross Perry grabbed our attention with this wonderfully acerbic second feature. An uproariously abrasive, fast-paced comedy road movie about a hyper dysfunctional brother-sister duo, shot on gorgeous 16mm B&W film.

FAKE IT SO REAL

Robert Greene United States, 2011

Robert Greene’s (Bisbee ’17) empathetic portrait of amateur wrestling captures the paradoxical tenderness of the sport. With radiant cinematography by Sean Price Williams, the film subtly focuses on the mythmaking of wrestling and the escape it offers from the struggles of Southern life.

BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO

Jessica Oreck United States, 2009

Director Jessica Oreck takes a philosophical and poetic look at insects in this lively documentary. Visually connecting the parallels between people and critters, cinematographer Sean Price Williams captures termites in astonishing digital close-up while mapping the buglike patterns of mankind.

THE GREAT PRETENDER

Nathan Silver United States, 2018

Sean Price Williams’ extraordinary camerawork is unmissable in this striking dark comedy directed by indie mainstay Nathan Silver. His camera fixates on a group of friends (including Esther Garrel!) in extreme close-up as a range of atmospheric colors permeate their faces.