Benjamin Bergery

by Philippe Pavans

par Philippe Pavans de Ceccatty La Lettre AFC n°147

[English] [français]

So here I am, face to face with Benjamin. First of all, we sat on his terrace, but the last rays of summer sunshine were still rather too strong and his neighbour’s belly-dancing lesson encouraged us to move indoors to his office. State of the art computer equipment sat alongside a very mysterious trim bin without any sign of an editing table, several works of art that were more or less experimental emerged from recently used materials and tools. “Work in progress”, explained Benjamin as he led me in.

We had trouble sticking to the description of his own history, we both have an incurable tendency to digress. We drifted onto the decline of naturalism and the rise of impressionism, then onto the concept of a “raw” image (not processed) and whether or not it should be validated during shooting. It was an enjoyable discussion.
Nevertheless, here are a few facts :
His father is a French journalist and his mother an artist from New York.
He teaches at the MIT Media Lab.
He developed video games for Atari and the prototype of a virtual editing tool for Lucas Films.

All this seems to fit very closely with the first impression I had of him, when he appeared at the head of Panavision in Montrouge. Slightly removed from the microcosmos of our profession and its archetypes, verging on extra-terrestrial I must say, something in between the “Invader” and the “Little Prince” ; Steve Jobs rather than Bill Gates.
Parallel to teaching at the USC he has worked, for a number of years now, for Panavision in Los Angeles, within the framework of a special liaison programme with young, independent film-makers.

Therefore, the commercial promotion of Primo lenses was not his sole ambition when he came to France. He wanted to carry out a real evaluation and research with directors of photography, whom he immediately contacted (Yves Angelo, Renato Berta, Caroline Champetier, Philippe Rousselot). He then remained faithful to this process with digital cinema when the HD Cam and the Genesis were introduced. He never misses a chance to experiment and do tests.

Benjamin Bergery, photo Philippe Pavans

After devoting several years to Panavision, and following on from his magnificent book ( Reflections) on the work of 21 DPs, he is once again free to develop his own projects, his questions, his experiments and those of other people. Benjamin is available for work as an HD and film consultant(see the Website bergery.net).

MIT : Massachusetts Institute of Technology
USC : University of Southern California