I borrowed the inspiration for this program from an equivalent European production, which had been shown on ERT in the early 1990s and went by the title “Visions of Light”.
The series was a compilation of portraits of great cinematographers, such as Sven Nykvist, Giuseppe Rotunno and Vittorio Storaro. Never in the history of Greek television had anything like that been made about domestic cinematographers.
The idea became fixed in my head, while we were working on the film about Walter Lassally.
As soon as we got back from Crete, in June 2004, not having any other engagements, I immediately moved on with the production details and began to shoot.
The idea was a series about 13 Greek cinematographers. I had completed most of the required shooting; namely about portraits of Nikos Gardelis, Ilias Konstantakopoulos, Katerina Maragoudaki, Tasos Alexakis, Giorgos Argyroiliopoulos, Lefteris Pavlopoulos, Simos Sarketzis, and I was also planning to film Stavros Hasapis, Yiannis Daskalothanasis and others.
I believed that ERT were sure to be interested in that kind of program and I proceeded before getting approval.
The completion of the series was put through the mill. For over five years I had been trying in vain to give it to ERT.
Only when ERT Digital opened, was the approval finally signed.
As part of the European funding program “Information Society”, the newly-founded digital broadcaster, subsidiary of ERT, authorized the production of numerous documentaries, and that was how the program ultimately came to being.
But they asked for the series to be about the more experienced and accomplished cinematographers, and sadly I had to leave out all the rest.
This is how the six-episode series came about.
I finished filming, we did the editing and by the summer of 2009, the series was ready.
As overlong and traumatic as having it approved might have been, the moment the series aired, it was a sensation.
There were countless reruns and it was very successful.
The subject was largely unknown and to a great degree, the series was an eye-opener.
That is why it was repeated so many times.
On my part, I believe it was a due honor to the unseen heroes of Greek cinema.
And they, apart from their careers, discussed the art of photography, as a whole, and the secrets of cinema.
Additionally, some fine archival material was included, in certain cases very rare, of films, behind the scenes footage, vintage TV programs, etc.
I believe that, apart from being a valuable record in itself, the program maintained a high level of quality, but it certainly could have been even better.
The causes were...psychology related.
On one hand, cinematographers are accustomed of sitting behind and not in front of the camera. In consequence, they would not offer me more shooting time, since they were very self-conscious and thought there were no more areas for us to explore.
They were literally camera-shy!
On the other hand, I was so awe-struck, I did not want to press them, like I would today, in order to be given more time and delve deeper into the subject.
In any case, I think it is a worthy series, which features the history of Greek cinema in a different light.