Calling the camera and its operator the only thing between the audience and the story, Doyle also spoke about developing trust and how it’s the cinematographer’s job to become a bridge so an actor can communicate directly with an audience.
Discussing Port of Call, Doyle talked about a scene he’d shot when lead Jessie Li was naked. Nudity on film is still a big deal in many parts of Asia. Actresses who are prepared to do it often find the scenes censored and sometimes themselves blacklisted, as happened to Fan Bingbing’s performance in Yu Li’s Lost in Beijing and Tang Wei after the release of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution.
“Jessie showed extraordinary trust in me,” Doyle said. “I don’t know that I’d trust me that much.”
On Port of Call the risk paid off for Li. She earned good reviews and won awards for her performance at two awards events in Hong Kong, the Asian Film Awards, and last year’s PiFan in Korea.
Not that he’s above helping actors make that journey at a pace of his own choosing. “Don’t let them do what they want. If they’re worried about motivation and you just need them to go somewhere, put a light there. They always find the fucking light. It’s feng shui.”