Jess Gonchor

Jess Gonchor

AS: Are you usually really involved with the locations department?
JG: I’m very involved. I’ve been fortunate to work with some good location managers. But really, it all starts in the art department. They’ll go out and photograph and then come back I’ll choose some things. It makes your life a lot easier when you have a great location manager and some great scouts that have some good eyes and are really on to what your vision of the movie is. And I’ve worked with a couple of the same people more than once and that’s great. I like to gather the whole locations team up and I’ll make a book, a sort of reference book of photos that have something to do with the look of the movie. If it’s not the exact thing that I want to find it’s the color of something or it’s the rhythm of something or it’s the feel of something. So I’ll usually take the whole location department through the book and through all the photographs and I think they like that. They like to be involved. They have an assignment then. A photo assignment to go and seek this thing out and bring their own game to it. They go, Hey Jess, I know you wanted this, but I found this, what about this? I’m like, Man that’s great. Let’s go see it. Let’s see what we can do about it.

The whole thing is contagious. I really think a film crew is contagious. It is people pushing each other. People stimulating each other. Nobody’s better than anybody else and I really think that’s why some of the things that I’ve worked on have come out so well because there are no egos. People push each other’s buttons in a good way and it’s a contagious reaction around the whole community to make something great. It starts with the directors. Because dissension amongst the ranks starts at the top. If you have a good leader, the rest is going to happen. It’s going to translate onto that screen.

AS: Do you get involved closely with other departments like, for example, picture cars, and show them your book?
JG: Yeah, everything that goes on the screen has to fit into the movie. You can’t have something show up that doesn’t fit. A clothespin, a car, a piece of grass, a building. It’s all a very carefully calculated scheme. You need to be involved in everything, you need to be involved with what wardrobe is doing, you need to be involved with everything.

AS: I hear you recently completed another Bennett Miller movie?
JG: Yes, it’s called Moneyball and it’s about this eccentric general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane. We completed that and now I just signed on to do the Lone Ranger. It’s a little ironic because it is a big Bruckheimer action adventure, which is outside my norm, but at the end of the day it’s still a dusty old Western. No computers, no spaceships, no super powers. Just a gun-slinging Western. I’m going to apply my same old approach to the whole thing and see what happens.

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About the Interviewer

Tom Lisowski is a production designer who has designed swamp mazes shot in China, crumbling cliffs in Utah, future arenas in South Central, dilapidated tenements and twisted laboratories under luxurious mansions... William Anthony is a Los Angeles-based commercial and editorial photographer specializing in portraiture, lifestyle and documentary imagery... Guest photographer Nelson Cragg is an award-winning cinematographer who shoots and directs television, feature films, and commercial projects. Contact ArtStars: tom@artstars.us