Several years ago, Guillaume Schiffman was nominated for a French cinema award for his cinematography, but the honor did not impress his father. In a video chat with Gold Derby, he laughingly recalled that his dad said, “Go get some Oscars, and then I’ll talk to you.” His father has since passed away, so his Academy Award nomination for “The Artist” is bittersweet. “I think about my father, because I know I’m very proud. It’s an honor and everything, but it’s very emotional also because I know my father would be so proud of me,” he said.
Schiffman has been working as a cinematographer since 1989, mostly in France although he is also an American citiizen. Michel Hazanavicius, the director of “The Artist,” has collaborated with him before, most recently on the feature films “OSS 117 – Cairo, Nest of Spies” (2006) and “OSS 117 – Lost in Rio” (2009).
He said that the director wanted him to watch at least 50 black and white films to prepare for the challenges of their latest collaboration. While viewing them, he decided, “I didn’t want to refer to only one. I was trying to find the code and the sensation of what black and white was to the period.” As the film was also to be silent this meant, “the lights are going to be another actor of the movie. All they will see is your image. It’s a gift, but it’s a dangerous gift. It’s a dream of a cinematographer for once somebody is telling me to be the actor of the movie.”
In the Oscar race for Best Cinematography, Schiffman is the only rookie in the field. According to our exclusive Gold Derby statistics, he is in the middle of the pack in third place with 4/1 odds. Three of our experts, three editors, and 15% of our users are predicting him to prevail, though. Five-time nominee Emmanuel Lubezki (“The Tree of Life“) is favored to win at 21/20 odds with the support of 21 experts, three editors, and 54% of users. The second position is held by two-time winner Robert Richardson (“Hugo“) at 10/3, who is the choice of six experts and two editors. Two-time champ Janusz Kaminski (“War Horse“) is in fourth place at 16/1, and two-time nominee Jeff Cronenweth (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“) takes the last slot at 25/1.