Rolling Stone: Madonna’s 20 Greatest Music Videos – Take a Bow – Michael Haussman

Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna’s 20 Greatest Music Videos

Since first storming MTV in 1983 with the poetic, lo-fi “Burning Up,” Madonna’s music videos have spent more than 20 years sparking conversations about fashion, feminism, sex, religion and what you could and could not show on television. To help her realize these 67 clips — one of the most rapidly changing visions in pop history — she teamed up with some video and photography’s most celebrated artists, including David Fincher, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Herb Ritts, Mark Romanek, Chris Cunningham, Stéphane Sednaoui, Jonas Åkerlund, Luc Besson and more.

“Madonna was the one you had to get,” says Michael Hausmann, director of her mid-Nineties clips for “Take a Bow” and “You’ll See.” “That was the video that would be the most airtime. It was, in some ways, kind of more important than having a movie out. More people were watching it, that’s for damn sure.”

To celebrate our cover star, we caught up with many of the directors behind some of the most iconic (and controversial) images in music history.

Remembers director Michael Haussman about this love story filmed in Spain, “She said, ‘OK, Here’s the song: It’s about a girl in love with a public figure. Write something, but just don’t make it dark.’ So, of course I went and wrote something really dark.” Madonna and the director met at the Ritz in Paris, tabled the discussion about his dark idea until dinner and started making small talk. “She says, ‘Well, what have you been doing?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve been really into filming bullfights and stuff.’ And I just saw this sparkle in her eye and suddenly I just kind of went with it. Pretty sure the while thing was written [that] night.” The sepia tinged video mixes shots of real life bullfighter Emilio Muñoz with Madonna for a clip that’s sensual, majestic and features steamy footage of the pop star writhing in front of a TV. “I thought it was going to be [difficult to direct] but then it was one of the sexiest things that I’ve ever seen,” says Haussman. “She would just play the song through and go for it.”

Michael Haussman, director: It became epic in proportions to try and actually do that video because it was such a taboo subject. There were several times when it was gonna be cancelled because of PETA getting involved, saying, “We understand you’re going to film a bullfight?” And originally I was. I was gonna try to film a bullfight where the bull gets killed and everything, and that was kind of the idea to stay true to it. And [it] became kind of obvious…we can’t stage a bullfight for a Madonna video, that’s not going to go across too well….And sure enough, it was such a fiery topic that we had to have to have the police in my office in London opening our mail because a lot of animal rights groups send letterbombs to scientists and things. The producer had a rose taped to his door and it said, “Hasta la vista, baby!” All kinds of really scary shit. I had to check under hotel under different names, which I’ve never had to do, when I was in Spain.

The bullfighting world didn’t want anything to do with someone that’s gonna come in and [try to be] commercializing them. What helped was that I had a super passion about it…I knew enough that I could say, “Listen: I want Emilio Muñoz and I can tell you about every fight he had last year, every outfit he wore and where he fought.” It was kind of funny because everyone said, “Well, he’ll never do it, Emilio Muñoz — why don’t you look at these other guys that are seeking publicity. And those are the guys you didn’t want! So that was a whole trip in itself — literally sitting in hotels in Seville, waiting to meet this guy. Waiting for four days passing — and it’s only his guys coming to scope you out and see if it’s real and it wasn’t some television show where they do pranks on people.

One thing we had to promise was that we’d never harm the bull in any way. And that became a real touchy subject because a bullfighter can’t really fight a bull unless he’s been harmed in some way. Usually they do a pick to his shoulder and that makes his head go down so that he could go use the smaller, red cloth called a muleta. So, if suddenly, we were not able to pick him or have any trace of blood on the bull, so how is he supposed to use this red cloth? She was set to fly out in two days and he was set to come the following day — it was right down to the wire. So I posed him the problem and he didn’t really say anything except, “OK, let me think about this.” And he just kind of of disappeared for two days. No one could get him on the phone. She gets on an airplane to come out. So, the drama was just fantastic! So he finally arrives and says, to the Spanish press, “I’m going to fight this bull, I’m not going to pick or bandeira him. it’s going to be the first time it’s ever done and I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it for my friend Michael.”

I don’t think [the bullfighting community] ever really wanted it to get out because he was able to fight that bull fine and it was beautiful and the bull never got hurt…at all. But you have to understand the reason that can’t happen is, unfortunately, [bullfighting is] about the celebration about killing of a bull. So it kind of took away the reason it why it exists for the Spanish. And also, when you’re looking at the footage, it’s pretty outstanding what he does. He’s not just fighting it — he’s fighting it beautifully. It’s gorgeous. It was all cloaked in secrecy. He wouldn’t do it unless no one saw. It was just too weird that a bullfighter’s fighting a bull that’s not picked or bandeira’d

Read more: Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna’s 20 Greatest Music Videos – Take a Bow – Michael Haussman

The Powerful Effects Of Gravity On The Human Body Are Shown In Their Full Glory In This Artistic Video – By Lost at E Minor

For Michael Haussman’s Gravity installation at the Young Projects Gallery in Los Angeles last year, he revealed a beautiful video shot at 2,000 frames per second to show the powerful effects of gravity on the human body. The video was made by synching the camera to the movement, so it actually seems like the subjects are standing still as their body wobbles, and jiggles and does just what it’s meant to under the intense pressure of gravity.

As Haussman says: ‘Each of the five subjects is filmed in slow motion, defying gravity, floating upward, then descending downward, bottoming out in gravity’s clutch; yet each person is magically stationary’.

Read the full article on Lost At E Minor 

Haussman Boldly Goes for Norton

Majestic camerawork on global work for malware security giant Norton inspires us all to move boldly through life with our privacy intact …

Los Angeles, CA (June 4th 2014) – Person Films / HSI Productions have teamed up with Grey, San Francisco to release sweeping new work for malware protection giant Norton, breaking this week as part of the brand’s integrated global campaign.

Directed by Michael Haussman, “Boldly Go” features portraits of individuals moving through life with a sense of passion and adventure. Inspiring poetry plays alongside encouraging us all to move brazenly through life. It’s work that successfully personifies Norton in modern times – people busy living their technological lives in comfort, all along knowing that their security and self-assurance is intact.

“People’s intimate thoughts, cherished ideas and connections are shared in so many different ways – but all in ways that need to be shared safely,” explains Curt Detweiler, CCO at Grey, San Francisco on Norton’s modern demo. “It’s a different world than it was ten years ago.”

“Boldly Go” was shot in Rome through Person Films, Italy with an extensive list of characters, the city’s modern architecture and extensive locales imparting an attractive, international feel. “The agency approached me with an open script, the anchor being the poem,” explains Haussman on shaping the work. “The challenge became how to demonstrate the benefits of using the product’s intangible protection service. We recognized that Norton is selling a positive lifestyle and the action of people moving forward into the world would personify that.”

Haussman’s use of documentary-style filmmaking and hand-held camerawork also imparts an authentic feel to the work, while black and white photography adds a majestic feel – the only color used being Norton’s trademark yellow insignia in each spot.

“We all recognized Michael’s ability to stay focused and make decisions quickly without compromising on artistic vision,” notes Detweiler on the campaign, previously collaborating with Haussman while Regional Creative Director at TBWA\G1\Europe in Paris. “He knows what standard is needed creatively and gets to the story in a more emotional way, and creates work that is very honest and genuine.”

Digital spots from the campaign will be seen on YouTube plus sites including CNN, Inc., Forbes and CBS News. The work follows on from a slew of successful campaigns for Haussman this year including powerful spots for Budweiser and United Airlines.

Haussman is also in pre-production on “Good Guys,” the compelling tale of two Americans who meet in an Italian hotel. One dies, the other taking on his identity as a means to alter his bleak future – instead inheriting a life that changes him from a good guy to a bad guy. Stephen Dorff is set to star, while other casting is currently under way.


Client: Norton
Agency: Grey, SF
Production Company: Person Films / HSI Productions
Director Michael Haussman
HSI Executive Producer / Managing Director Rebecca Skinner
Person Films Executive Producer: Cecile Leroy
Producer: Linda Masse
Line Producer: Fabiomassimo Dell’Orco
Cinematographer: Paolo Caimi
Editing Company: Union
Editor: Marco Perez

Simon Wakelin
Press Liaison / t: 213.864.9439




New Budweiser work reveals how integral baseball has been to American society

Los Angeles, CA (April 4th 2014) Person Films has teamed up with Anomaly New York to create “Always There” for Budweiser, an emotionally charged journey playing across multiple eras in baseball history.

Directed by Michael Haussman, “Always There” features pivotal events in the sport’s past with Bud close at hand. The spot continues the director’s relationship with Anomaly, previous Budweiser work including “Anticipation” and “Coming Home.”

“Always There” begins with a locomotive barreling toward us full of businessmen with newspaper headline: “Yankees Buy Ruth.” We then sweep seamlessly into a Brooklyn apartment as fans listen to Lou Gehrig’s famous speech. Sliding effortlessly into the next era we uncover an old timer seated at a bar, eyes welling with pride watching Satchel Paige on TV, the first African American pitcher to play in the majors.

Hank Aaron greets us next, on a color monitor at a swanky ‘70s house party rounding the bases to celebrate his 715th home run. Carl Ripken Jnr., follows, embodying pre-millennial baseball. The heartwarming spot ends with the Boston Red Sox celebrating victory at the 2013 World Series – their first since 1918 when Babe Ruth played for the team.

Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Alice in Wonderland”) was on hand to garner precise looks for each time period, while DP Paul Cameron (“Total Recall,” “Collateral,” “Man on Fire”) worked closely with Haussman to create overexposed flashes and pulsing movement to lavish scenes with an old-school camera feel.

The commercial reveals how integral baseball has been to American society and how Bud has also been there to celebrate the sport’s triumphs. “Anomaly came up with an amazing concept that was very distinctive and emotional – the history of Budweiser as told through the sport of baseball,” notes Haussman.

A global campaign for United Airlines rounds out recent work for Haussman, currently prepping on a Norton job through Grey, San Francisco. Anomaly, meanwhile, continue going from strength to strength, recently appeared in the highly touted 2014 “Agency A-List” report in Advertising Age.

Haussman’s emotional tour-de-force “The Audition” is also of note, work that competed at the Venice International Film Festival and currently in the Oscar- qualifying shorts competition at the Nashville Film Festival.




 Agency:                                              Anomaly

                                                     Eric Segal

                                       Johnny Dantonio

Art Director:
                                       Mark Sarosi

Head of Production:                          Andrew Loevenguth

Senior Producer:                                    Carrie Lewis


Production Company:                                  Person Films

                                                          Michael Haussman

Executive Producer: 
                                    Rebecca Skinner

                                                       Ron Mohrhoff

Editor:                                                             Biff Butler (Rock Paper Scissors)


Post FX:                                                         The Mill

                                                                 Paul Cameron

Production Designer:                                Jason Hamilton

Costume Designer:                                      Colleen Atwood

Makeup Artist:
                                             Brad Wilder

Hair Stylist:                                                   Martin Samuel



Live Action Shorts in Competition – Academy Award™ Qualifying Category

The Audition | Director: Michael Haussman. Italy. 11 minutes.
This scene begins as a playful challenge between two actors. What happens seems unplanned – as emotions become involved and they fall in love. The audience asks: Is this real? Or just really good acting?

Click here to read the article.

The Audition Wins Best Short At Byron Bay 2014

When the act of passion becomes reality

A sizzling power play between two actors falling in love, The Audition, which appeared at Venice Film Festival 2013, is a film that explores what happens when business unexpectedly mixes with pleasure.

This scene begins as a playful challenge between two actors, at first trading just words. But it soon transforms into a war of emotion, as they try to conquer each other in proposition. The weakest will fall in love. What happens is unplanned – the consequences of their game – as their real emotions become involved and they both actually fall in love. Both are losers, or winners, but neither is giving up. It is as if they had gone through an entire relationship in the time it took to read the audition – and now they must separate, as scripted, and end it. Like a break up, it is hard. The audience continues to ask themselves: Is this real? Or just really good acting? At this moment, it seems possible that even the actors themselves do not know, because the emotion between them is that real.

The Audition is a cinematically captivating short film by award-winning director, writer and artist, Michael Haussman who has directed music videos for Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Chemical Brothers, Kanye West, Usher, Shakira, Chris Cornell, Eric Clapton, and won several MTV and VH1 awards. Haussman’s commercial campaigns include work for Levi’s, Diesel, Absolut, Bulgari, BMW, Yves Saint Laurent, Guinness, Ray-Ban, Coca-Cola, and more.

Click here to read the article. Coverage of New United “Athletes Aboard”

United Airlines set to debut rousing Sochi Olympics TV spot (Video)

The Sochi Winter Olympics begin Friday as athletes from all over the world convene for the opening ceremonies.

United Airlines will be there too as the Chicago-based airline debuts its stunning 60-second Olympic-themed commercial from ad agency McGarryBowen/New York. The spot will air for the first time during Friday’s Olympic opening celebration.

The Olympic Games are a big deal for United.  And the airline’s visually- and aurally-thrilling new TV spot is a major reflection of that.

United has been the official carrier of the United States Olympic Committee and Team USA for the past 34 years. In that official capacity, United has ferried America’s athletes to and from every Olympics, as well as related competitions, training events and Olympic Trials.

Titled “Athletes Aboard,” United’s Olympic spot was filmed on a United Boeing 777 widebody airplane parked in a United hangar at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), as well as around the plane and at a boarding gate inside the Los Angeles airport.

“Athletes Aboard” features some of the prominent American athletes participating in the Sochi Games, including Chicagoan Gracie Gold, the reigning women’s U.S. figure skating champion, and Shani Davis, a gold medal-winning Olympic speedskater also from Chicago.

Viewers of “Athletes Aboard” will immediately discover this is no boring, run-of-the-mill commercial comprised of athletes sitting around an airplane. No way.

Click here to read the article.

Haussman’s “Athletes Aboard” Featuring Team USA 2014 Earns Ad of the Day from Adweek

‘Athletes Aboard’ to debut during Opening Ceremony

By  February 5, 2014

Now that the Super Bowl ad bonanza is (finally) over, it’s time we all take a well-deserved break from obsessively tracking TV spots created for major sporting events. Just kidding! The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is just a day away (although the opening ceremony won’t air until Friday—figure that one out), and while Sochi is still scrambling to finish preparations for the big event, here in the U.S., marketers have already kicked off an onslaught of Team USA-themed campaigns.

One of the latest comes from United Airlines, which, in case you were unaware, has been the official airline of Team USA for the past 34 years. In “Athletes Aboard,” a 60-second spot created with mcgarrybowen, we get a look at how the athletes are traveling to the Sochi Games. (That is, if their flights haven’t all been canceled. Thanks, weather!)

“Athletes Aboard” manages to fit an impressive amount of Team USA fervor into a single minute. Since Olympians aren’t nearly as much fun when they’re not actually competing, the various skaters, bobsledders, skiers and lugers featured in the ad arrive for their flight already suited up for the games in copious amounts of red, white and blue. (No word on how those razor-sharp skates were able to make it past the TSA officers.) For the soundtrack, we get the patriotic favorite “Rhapsody in Blue” because what’s more American than Gershwin? (Oh right, “America.”) And to narrate the spot, United hired the universally beloved Matt Damon.

“The spot playfully celebrates United’s unique familiarity with the needs of Team USA, and it evokes huge pride to see both athletes and employees—all real—who, each in their own way, ‘carry the hopes of a nation,’” said mcgarrybowen ecd Haydn Morris.

In addition to the TV spot—“Athletes Aboard” will make its prime-time debut during the Opening Ceremony on Friday evening, and two more spots are planned to follow—United has also invested in a heavy social media and native ad push. The company will be asking viewers to use the hashtags #AthletesAboard and #TeamUSAfriendly in their Olympic tweets, and will also be sponsoring interactive content on The New York Times’ website, videos on Yahoo Screen and BuzzFeed posts.

Click here to read the article.



Los Angeles – November 21, 2013 – Person Films director Michael Haussman today announced his newest short film The Audition is confirmed to screen at the third and fourth film festivals since its premiere. The Audition world premiered in September during the 70th annual Venice International Film Festival. This film’s public screenings thus far span the globe; premiering in Italy, then closely followed by a U.S. premiere in Los Angeles. Next up is 2013 London Lift-Off, held November 30.

This film is Haussman’s second short to premiere at an international festival. It is also his second film to premiere at a prestigious festival this year (his documentary Unsinkable Henry Morgan premiered at Sundance). Haussman’s first short scooped the first prize at the Berlin, Houston and Aspen Film Festivals. The Audition has received significant attention not only due to Haussman but also because it stars two famous Italian actors – Valeria Solarino and Marco Bocci – in addition to being shot at historic Cinecittá Studios in Rome. Haussman calls The Audition his “ode to acting” and considers the film to be a romantic homage to Cinecittá Studios.

“I set out with the question: Is it possible for two actors to become so wrapped up emotionally in their role that the feelings become real? This is the premise,” Haussman told Italian press.

Haussman says that Cinecittá Studios’ iconic status and surreal sets were integral to the spell created by the film. In his words the film is intended to “leave us asking the questions:  Did these two people know each other from the past? Will they have a story in the future? Or was it all just very good acting?”

The Audition was selected to close the “Identity” program during the 2013 L.A. Shorts Film Festival, and was one of few films selected for the Orizzonti Competition category at the Venice Festival. called the film an “intense black and white.”

The Audition is written and directed by Michael Haussman. A feature interview with Haussman appears in the current issue of SHOTS Magazine.

Cecile Leroy and Rebecca Skinner produced the film for Person Films.



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Ad Icon: Michael Haussman
Director Michael Haussman talks about odes to actors, purity of image and starting off with a good ending.

With a stellar 2013 behind him, Michael Haussman continues to tread a positive path through adland. About to embark on a global campaign for United Airlines, the much-acclaimed director takes a break from scheduling to tell Simon Wakelin what the year has taught him about advertising, filmmaking and the art of creating the perfect commercial.

Michael Haussman’s year began in style with the world premiere at Sundance of his film The Unsinkable Henry Morgan. This intriguing documentary follows a group of archaeologists investigating a 17th century shipwreck off the coast of Panama, believed to be the long-lost ship of English pirate Sir Henry Morgan.

“It was one of the funniest experiences of my life,” recalls Haussman. “We got there, fed people questions about Captain Morgan, and then discovered the wreck wasn’t Morgan’s ship at all. The wind was suddenly let out of everyone’s sails, but it worked to keep the mystery and intrigue alive in the documentary, plus it was so much fun to shoot.”

Haussman also competed at the 2013 Venice International Film Festival with The Audition, a short he wrote and directed. Shot at Rome’s legendary Cinecittà studios, the film explores what would happen if actors’ real feelings were exposed and blended with the roles they were playing.

“This is my ode to acting,” explains Haussman. “I’ve always been fascinated by the magic of movies, of actors on screen who are supposed to be in love. I wondered what it would look like if I crossed that threshold and had actors invest their emotions farther than they should. The film is a scene in which the actors play a couple breaking up, but they go deeper and their genuine emotions become involved.”

Haussman also generated buzz in the art world this year with the release of his hypnotising video installation Gravity, a work heralded for its study of ageing under gravity’s force. Five subjects were filmed in slow motion while jumping on a trampoline, their bouncing steadied in post to erase all movement except for gravity’s effects on their skin, cellulite, muscles and bones. For the installation, looped videos of each subject were projected onto lifesize screens.

“I knew it would be an interesting effect but didn’t expect the ageing process to be quite so powerful,” explains Haussman. “I thought I would need to give each person some direction, but saw how acting became overacting due to the super slow motion. I told each subject not to think of anything in the end. Gravity shows people baring everything – nudity, scars, body alignment, bones, imperfections and skin. It’s a brutally honest portrayal of ageing in both the young and the old.”

Haussman worked with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto to secure the beautiful, Caravaggio-inspired HD imagery. It seems digital is at the heart of just about everything today; a medium that extends into thousands of other media.

“We can never fear innovation,” offers Haussman on the evolution of digital. “Those who worry about technology will always create bad things. We have to make content that moves and involves audiences, no matter the device. The idea of movies and entertainment with a subtle message branding-wise appeals to me. I think, for example, Lost in Translation could have been a Marc Jacobs ad.”

So what does Haussman look for in trying to secure the right kind of commercial work? “I look for one thing. A simple idea that I can complicate through the storytelling process. I find the simpler and cleaner the idea, the more contained it is – and the better it can become.”

He notes how his first spot for a new global United Airlines campaign exemplifies this approach. Entitled Taxi, it features the POV of a passenger travelling in different cabs at different locations all over the world – New York, Shanghai, New Delhi, Dubai, Mexico City, London and Rome – with each taxi driver asking, “Which airline?” in the local language.

Argument for Haagen Dazs is also a stripped-down gem, the story of two lovers embroiled in a heated argument – until a tub of Haagen Dazs enters the picture, immediately flipping the scene to romantic, smoochy ice-cream sharing. But this truce is a brief respite before tempers comically flare again.

Meanwhile, Knockout for Levi’s shows a knack for pushing ideas to the edge. Created after lengthy discussions with ECD Chuck McBride at Cutwater San Francisco, the spot features a beautiful woman in Levi’s strutting down the street. As men gaze at her outstanding form they’re violently knocked out by an invisible force. The spot ends with the woman herself spotting a sexy guy in Levi’s – and immediately getting clocked after gazing too long at his butt.

“We were just two guys having a drink, wondering how it would be if every time a guy looked at a hot girl in Levi’s he’d get knocked out and beaten up,” says Haussman on brainstorming with McBride. “I saw Raging Bull in my mind and we continued to riff off each other until the idea was down. Chuck is the most fearless, courageous creative I’ve ever met. We just sat down, smoked and drank and nailed the fucking commercial. Chuck kept adding ideas during the shoot to make it better. That’s the perfect relationship.”

Beer came to the rescue again in a collaboration with luxury brand Bulgari, which hired Haussman as brand art director for three months, while he conceptualised ideas for its campaign. “I saw how politics can often get in the way of the idea,” he quips. “But when you break down the business over a beer, the decision-making process makes total sense.”

The result was a dramatic, romance-filled spot shot in black-and-white on location in Rome, channelling classic Italian neorealist cinema. The city’s ancient ruins and Renaissance palaces were used to frame a flirtatious couple’s romantic adventures. The spot was further enhanced by the use of suggestive rhythms created by Italian composer Daniele Luppi.

With so many commercials under his belt for great brands such as Diesel, Absolut, BMW, Yves Saint Laurent and Guinness, does Haussman ever find the pressure of delivering for these icons lead to uncertainty, worry and stress?

“Whenever you shoot for big brands they already have a following and a history of fantastic work,” he admits. “There is obviously a benchmark and I think there are always restrictions, but you need to be absorbed in your own idea. You need to handcraft each commercial and not think about what you can’t do. Once you start thinking

about things like budget and responsibilities you are no longer creating, no longer directing and everything you do is just the status quo.”

So what does he think about when deciding on his own aesthetic? “Always, in everything I do, it’s about purity – being as pure to an idea as possible,” he answers. “It’s the hardest thing to achieve. At the beginning of my career I hid behind things, whether it was a device or a camera move. Today I realise I have the confidence to find purity in the image. It also makes for something that you can’t quite put your finger on.”

Sometimes the process gets in the way of achieving this ‘purity’; sometimes it’s an aid. “Casting is just horrible,” Haussman quips. “You’ve written something and need to find the character. It’s not about acting because we all act. It’s performing that is so hard to achieve. I have never cast anyone without having callbacks.”

However, treatment writing is welcomed with open arms. “When it’s on paper and you can see it, then you know it’s been realised,” he explains. “Many directors bitch over treatments, but I remember Dante Ariola saying he likes the process because it forces him to think the idea through. I concur with that outlook.”

Sound design and music are often overlooked in many commercials, but not so in Haussman’s work. “Sound is such a crucial component for commercials, it’s a huge element. Sometimes the sound is more important than the visuals,” he says. “One of the spots for the United Airlines campaign features a 150-person live orchestra.”

Sound also affects the editing process, particularly when Haussman works with longtime collaborator Marco Perez of bicoastal editing house Union. Perez is one of Haussman’s favourite cutters with a special insight into the use of music. “Marco used to be a director of opera, so when we edit we are also laying in a host of sounds,” reveals Haussman. “All my Levi’s work was done by Marco. We always have something pretty good in the editing room before I move on.”

Haussman has worked with a host of heavyweight cinematographers, including Paul Cameron, Harry Savides, Darius Khondji, Benoît Delhomme and Rodrigo Prieto. “You go to different people for different things. For example, Rodrigo still relies heavily on stock. After he shot Biutiful with Alejandro [González Iñárritu] he wanted to create the same look in his next film, but the stock was already gone. His films have such a distinct look. He is one of the smartest men I’ve ever run across.”

It’s clear that for Haussman (and, by extension, his posse of cinematographers) it’s all about the vision and creating something vital, fresh and new: “I can never go to any of these guys and ask them to repeat themselves,” he states. “If we find ourselves doing that we back up immediately. When I started in this business I shot everything myself, but it was just way too much clutter. I feel if you are focusing on the performance you can’t operate a camera and light the scene yourself. You get diminishing returns.”

Talking of diminishing returns, a recent conversation between Haussman and friend, director Jim Sheridan, reveals both men’s concern that the American film industry has sorely depreciated the stock of cinema in the global village: “American cinema has methodically destroyed European cinema. It’s gone in most places except for countries that regulate American releases, where they save themselves while Hollywood creates yet another franchise like Batman Vs. Superman and eats itself alive.

“We all see creativity going elsewhere to Netflix and cable TV, with audiences flocking to see Behind the Candelabra, House of Cards, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. When Jim Sheridan can’t pitch drama to studios because drama won’t sell, you know there’s a problem.”

Enough of the depressing future. What about the more hopeful past – what attracted Haussman to the world of commercials and filmmaking in the first place? “I got into film because of Antonioni, Bertolucci and neorealism,” he replies. “I can still watch [Visconti’s] Death in Venice, and I loved the early work of Scorsese, Lumet and Cassavetes. I am also inspired by up-and-coming directors today who work hard to create absorbing, compelling characters.” When asked the secret of his success, Haussman immediately offers the words of advice he heard from playwright, actor and director Sam Shepard: “He says every good movie is born on a great ending,” he concludes. “You just have to go back from that.”

Read the article at Shots Magazine online