Photograph by Richard Kern
Jenniphr Goodman's The Tao of Steve and Myles Connells The Opportunists were two of the more striking- looking films at this years Sundance Film Festival. Although they differ dramatically one exploits the expansive landscape of Sante Fe, N.M., as backdrop for a philosophical romantic comedy; the other portrays the idiosyncracies of an outer-borough auto mechanic (and reformed safecracker) with incisive neighborhood detail. They were both shot by the same cinematographer, Teodoro Maniaci.
Since graduating from N.Y.U. film school in 1990, Maniaci has built a DP reel distinguished as much by its high quality as by the eclectism of its styles.
"If you look at the films Ive shot," Maniaci says, "youd be hard-pressed to say theres a single person behind them. They're all really different looking, different styles of filmmaking. Lodge Kerrigans Claire Dolan, for instance, is an incredibly formal art film with very precise, almost geometric sort of chrome-and-glass photography. Its very voyeuristic. Whereas in The Opportunists the camera is invisible. The shots are carefully chosen, but the film is not about the camerawork. It doesn't call attention to itself."
Pressed to characterize his approach, Maniaci explains, "My style is highly adaptive. I try to create a look thats appropriate for each film. Its not about me attaching myself [to a project] and it becoming about me. Its about me becoming part of it trying to figure out what that project wants to be. Lodge Kerrigans Clean, Shaven, for instance, was very intense and gritty" the polar opposite of Claire Dolan. "Michael Bensons Predictions of Fire, on the other hand, is a highly stylized propaganda film for a political art movement, and Bette Gordons Luminous Motion is a strange psychodrama with surreal overtones."
Asked if theres a particular film genre he hasnt yet explored that would intrigue him, Maniaci who recently wrapped production on Myra Pacis debut feature, Searching for Paradise answers, "Id love to do a sci-fi rocker film. We need a good sci-fi rocker movie!"
Teodoro Maniaci is represented by Kara Baker-Young at the Gersh Agency.