A face to face with Sharon Cahalan


An interview with Sharon Calahan, Disney-Pixar’s director of photography.


Which film do you prefer among those you have shot and why?  

Two in particular. I would certainly say “Ratatouille”: it was nice to work on food,  then “The Good Dinosaur” which being set in  prehistoric times and since I work on landscapes, I really enjoyed to make it.


Can you tell us something about the “Light Painting” technique?

I consider it a philosophy of work rather than a technique. For me working on the light  means working on the emotion . Through landscapes you have to communicate that kind of emotions people can feel but not to see at the first sight. It is a work focused on the emotional aspect, this is why I have to be very careful to the dark sceneries as they express negative moods: after the darkness must always return the light,  the clear.


Who are your favorite artists?

I very much appreciate the Russian landscape painters and the japanese artists. Of course I admire the american painters too. My sources of inspiration come from many different impulses.


Are you a comic books reader? Does ninth art influence your work?

Not really, I used to read comic books as a young girl, now no more. I would certainly read them If I had to adapt a comic book to a film. In this case I would totally immerse myself in reading them. This is my way to proceed. We may even take three years to complete a project. When you have finished, your mind feels empty. I need to understand what to do about myself. I also feel physically exhausted. Then the film comes out and we begin to present it and everything starts all over again.


After a long and successful career do you think that you still have anything to learn in your work?

I always like to face new challenges, moving out of areas where I feel more confident to test myself.  


What do you suggest to those who wish to work in the animated movies? What is the best approach?

Do not give up their own dreams. Our dreams often do not exist yet. When I started to work in this sector, my profession did not exist yet. I had to do a lot of experience before joining Pixar and beginning the work which has now become my profession.