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Old Settler
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TimelineIn-Depth InterviewsKey ScenesProduction RolesAbout the Show
Working With the Director
The Look
The Job of Lighting
Hi-Def Video
The Shoot

DP Role & Bio

The Director In-Depth

The Production Designer In-Depth

Printable Version

John Simmons: The Director of Photography In-Depth


Working With the Director

Setting Up the Shots

John Simmons 
"I usually do storyboards, but in this show we didn't. We jumped right in because Debbie knows what she wants. She can express it. She understands the technology and she understands how to tell a story. She knows lenses. She can call out a lens size in millimeters. A lot of directors have problems getting on the other side of a stage line, jumping to the other side of the room during the scene. She has absolutely no problem with that."

"Debbie has a real visual sense. And since we've been working together for almost twenty years it's pretty easy for us to get on the same page."

"In this case, the play is very different from a film. You don't visually see what's happening. And once we got the film script in our hands, even then it was quite wordy. But even though I didn't see it on the page, I knew she knew what she wanted."

"Debbie is also a choreographer, so she makes the camera do a lot of things that you don't expect a director to ask for. So we do very long masters [in this case, with the camera on a dolly], and then we go back and clean them up, [shooting additional coverage to provide editing options].

On a 4 x 8 piece of plywood the dolly that the camera's on might take twelve different positions [during the dolly move].

Which means sometimes we're moving the camera three inches, sometimes we're moving three feet. We can show the entire room on one 4 x 8 piece of wood!"


Debbie Allen and John Simmons
Debbie Allen and John Simmons discuss the Savoy Ballroom scene


The camera crew
The camera crew rehearses a 'dolly shot'


Introduction   |   Working With the Director   |   The Look



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