D.Angarag: No matter how famous I become, I’ll never change my nationality


A member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) and cinematographer D.Angarag is going to work in a psychological film named “Precious” by a foreign producer. The following is an interview about his upcoming projects and films.

 Will Mongolian cinematic arts develop and succeed best through optimum cultural policy and sufficient funds or by collaborating with foreign artists?

Mongolians say that the state isn’t supporting us and that we need financial support. From a certain perspective, it seems as though that many films are produced and Mongolian cinematic arts are developing, but strictly speaking, it’s stagnating. I used to think that producing high and low quality films was a way towards development. Now, I want to criticize artists for not developing their abilities and awakening their talents. They’re working with their basic knowledge acquired in schools, without seeking technical help from people in the industry such as cinematographers and music directors. Technology is developing and improving rapidly. Mongolians think as if just acquiring technologies rumored to be good, it will develop Mongolian cinematic arts.  They can only see the true wonders of technology if they have complete knowledge about it and operate it as if it were their hands.

You were invited to the Oscars and attended training for international professional cinematographers. How did you become recognized internationally? To reach international levels, what must Mongolians do?

They just need to do some research. It’s important to become acquainted with many and collect information. Mongolians think as if someone will come from the heavens and help them. There’s no such thing in history. I contacted foreign artists and showed them my work. They liked it and we became close friends. Later, I received an invitation to the Oscar. Even though, I’m going to many places alone, I’m trying my best to build a bridge for Mongolian cinematic arts to step on to the world stage.

You’ve received training at the American Society of Professional Cinematographers. Will you share what you’ve learned with Mongolian cinematographers?

This is what I think about most. Instead of just one person developing, everyone needs to be capable in order to succeed. Many people tell me to instruct and teach but I have many things I don’t know. I need to be serious about this otherwise if I teach imperfectly learnt things to others, it will not be of any help. When I’ve acquired a certain amount of knowledge and think I’m ready, I’ll share it with others.

To produce work that is able to compete on a global scale, how important is technology?

You can make philosophical films or films that portray the inner world and emotions. What’s important is how you’ll present it at international markets. “Alsiin Udirdlaga” (Remote Control), by director Byambaa, participated in several international festivals, and got an award. Majority of Mongolian films weren’t able to do this. We need a powerful crew.

Can you talk about the film you’re collaborating with an American producer? From the Mongolian side, what was proposed?

It will be screened in late 2015. Although Mongolian producers make good films, they don’t plan on how to take it to international markets. They think producers are people who fund films. A movie is an art but also a business. Before films are made in America, they wrap up their preparation for many months and plan on where it’ll be screened, sold and in which festival it’ll participate.

Mongolian actor Batmend is rumored to star in this film. Why did you choose him? From Mongolia, who else is to take up a role?

When I went to America in October 2013, I showed “Bodliin Khulgaich” (Thief of Thoughts) to some artists. Though Amaraa was the protagonist, Batmend was able to capture many of the viewers. When I went to America last month, they asked me to bring him along since they wanted to meet him. After seeing “Anu Khatan,” “Bodliin Khulgaich,” “Sharga Daaga” in which he played major roles, it was decided that we’d work together. He’ll act out a role which is a critical supporting role. Cinematographers’ crew and a female actress from Mongolia is to take part in the film also. We’re discussing ways to bring in a Mongolian director. From Mongolia, a crew of 10 will participate.

After watching “Bodliin Khulgaich” what did American artists say?

There was only one mistake we made and that was technology. It was produced with technologies we had, not with the latest technologies like America. They talked about technological issues at the very end. They said artistic intuition was good. It was able to touch people’s hearts because it was inspired from real life and shot in real environment, without creating artificial environment. “Bodliin Khulgaich” was able to become the bridge for me to collaborate with foreign artists. Only in America, I was able to feel that we can be a good team.

You must receive many film proposals. How do you make your choice?

Even if it’s based on the director’s point of view, viewers will see it from my perspective. I don’t have the right to show them bad quality films. First, I read the script. If it’s interesting, I’ll contemplate on whether I can bring it to life.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a cinematographer?

In America, we discussed this exact topic. Everyone thinks differently. Some say pictures with constant movement, whereas others say it’s challenging to get shots that give full impact of the role. I’m still looking for my own style.

What sort of scripts do you like?

I like fantasy or horror stories.

Which is better, to work on scenes or to watch the results of your efforts after everything has finished?

Watching films you’ve worked on with others is the best. Many people ask if I can point out mistakes while watching films. Although I know what was happening before the camera, I take pleasure from films by watching it from a viewer’s perspective.

Do you often cry after watching a film?

I guess I’ll have to talk about “Bodliin Khulgaich” once more. While watching it in America, I was touched when Amaraa met his mother after escaping from prison and nearly cried. Probably because I watched it after a few years. I felt as if I was watching someone else’s work. It felt nice.

While there are artists who don’t like watching films because they might copy it, there are many who think it’s important to watch and study other’s experience in order to not repeat ideas. How often do you watch films?

I don’t watch the same type of films that I’m about to work on. For instance, when working on historical films, if I watch the same genre, I’ll want to add some parts of it. If I copy, I will not have anything to brag as my own. Films are made based on my imagination.

Many directors start out as cinematographers. Do you plan on becoming a director someday?

If I were to change my profession after many years, I’ll become a colorist. I judged the color of most of the films I worked on including, “Anu Khatan” and “Bodliin Khulgaich.” Currently in Mongolia, there’s no film that used colors like those in “Alsiin Udirlaga,” “Aravt,” “Anu Khatan” and “Bodliin Khulgaich.” I’m not a super human like directors. I’ll only try out things I can do.

Why do you make your photographs mostly with faint colors such as dark blue, grey or fog-like colors?

I don’t know why. It must be because I like those kinds of photographs. Many people ask about taking photographs. I advise them to take pictures of things they want to see after they’ve based it on theories. If I want to take a picture of a woman wearing completely white clothes under a pitch black sky, I’ll only take pictures of that. I don’t care if others don’t like it. It’s fine as long as I can get satisfaction from it.

Do you participate in international photography competitions such as World Press Photo and National Geographic Traveler?

I’m not interested in such things as I don’t take pictures to get awards. With a portrait of an old man smoking a pipe, I participated in photographer’s forum for the first time and got an award. I received proposals to use my photographs from a variety of places.

Can you elaborate on that portrait?

In 2009, while traveling for a documentary film in Dundgovi Province, the director suggested we visit a family and that’s how I came upon their place. As soon I saw him, I wanted to take his picture. His stance and tone of his voice left a strong impression. To take a picture, we talked for over an hour. He was a war veteran who fought at Khalkh River. If I hadn’t talked to him and took a picture as soon as I entered, that portrait wouldn’t have become such a fine work.

As a cinematographer, what’s your biggest dream?

I want to produce a fairytale like “The Lord of the Ring” and “Hobbit” with Mongolian heroes.

If a foreign company gave you a life changing proposal but you had to change your nationality, what would you do?

No matter how famous I get, I’ll never change my nationality. My objective is to steal the secrets of American cinematic arts and use it to flourish Mongolia. I’ll only know their secret if I work with them.


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Posted by on Apr 24 2014. Filed under Топ мэдээ. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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