'I knew that if there was no lab in Budapest I couldn’t shoot on film'

Nicolas Pariser’s crime story The Green Perfume (Le Parfum Vert) was premiered as the closing film of the Directors’ Fortnight. Part of the shooting took place in Hungary where the NFI Filmlab did the laboratory works. The director of photography, Sébastien Buchmann spoke about shooting on film and our cooperation.  

Two of the DOP Sébastien Buchmann’s features were premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year. He chose 35 mm film both for Don Juan directed by Serge Bozon, screened in the official selection and Green Perfume. The shooting of The Green Perfume took place in Paris for 4 weeks, for 1 week in Belgium and for 3 weeks in Hungary, Budapest in 2021 November, in production of Laokoon Filmgroup. The scenes shot mostly in a theatre in Budapest were taken for processing and scanning in the Hungarian Filmlab. We have interviewed Sébastien about shooting on film and his experience of our cooperation.   

Why did you insist on shooting on 35 mm negative this time?

We haven’t even imagined doing it differently. Nicolas is frightened by the digital look which is sometimes very crude. Personally, I love the film look and I love working on film. I know that we can nearly try to emulate it in digital nowadays but working on film is still a little different than working on digital. There’s still a part of magic, of mystery. When we watch the dailies there’s always a little surprise to see the almost final image! 

What does 35 mm raw stock add to the look of the film?

I knew that film would help me for a colorful palette, not only strong and saturated like in digital but rich colors with a lot of nuances. Film will help me again for the image contrast with very rich and strong blacks and pleasing skin tone contrast. Whites don’t clip, they ‘re depthful, bright and vibrant, alive.

How did you chose to work with us?

Working with the Filmlab was a luck! Film labs are disappearing and the skills as well. Before starting the film prep, I knew that if there were no lab in Budapest I couldn’t shoot on film because of the high cost of the unprocessed neg insurance when it has to travel to be processed. When I learnt there was a filmlab which has such credits I was completely reassured.

Laboratory works started in another filmlab in Paris and continued in Budapest. What was your experience about it?  

My colorist sent you our workflow and I was very happy with your part. It was completely transparent with our lab Hyventy which had done half the job.I had the opportunity to visit Filmlab before the production and I was impressed by the equipment, the quality and the cleanliness of the premises. Dialogue and welcome from the team was very pleasing and helpful for the production. I hope I can come back again in Budapest. It was a pleasure shooting in this wonderful city full of history. As The Green Perfume production was in winter it would be great to see the city in another light, in summer.