Brief Encounters: Gregory Crewdson Movie

Crewdson is one of the best photographers of the world. Gregory Crewdson’s work is in many collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, LACounty Museum. A traveling exhibition of his work is now touring museums in Europe. The body of work featured in the film is “Beneaththe Roses,” and was produced from 2002-2008. The photographs at the end of the film, of the back-lot of Cinetta’ studios in Rome, are “Sanctuary,” which premiered in 2010.

With unprecedented access, director Ben Shapiro filmed Crewdson for a decade, beginning in 2000. Throughout the film we witness his work grow and deepen, garner worldwide acclaim, and reach a climax of creative change as Crewdson’s inspiration spirals in a radical new direction. The result is an intimate view of the creation of iconic works by one of the most renowned and influential artists of our time.

Shapiro says about this Gregory Crewdson’s movie:

Brief Encounters was filmed over a ten-year span. I first encountered Crewdson and
his work in 2000, when I was working on a piece about him for the PBS series EGG. I was immediately struck by the beauty and power of his images, and also by the care, vision, and complexity of the productions. The first Crewdson shoot I filmed was in Lee, Massachusetts—he was making a photograph of a man, apparently just returned home from work, who has removed his suit and is climbing a flowercovered beanstalk that has burst through the lawn.
Members of Crewdson’s team spent the day sorting through dozens of boxes of fresh flowers, carefully positioning and stapling them one at a time to the beanstalk, which was in fact a recycled telephone pole. It was an introduction to the kind of detail that contributes so much to the richness of his work. Most of the filming of Brief Encounters was done between 2005 and 2009, when Crewdson was creating his epic series of photographs, “Beneath the Roses.” When I proposed making the film, he was completely supportive and encouraging, as he remained throughout the entire production. He granted me virtually unlimited access, from pre-production location scouting, right through to the taking of the pictures.

A few times I even filmed from a position on the set itself, hidden from his camera by a piece of scenery. I worked solo during nearly all of the filming, and eventually became a frequent and relatively unnoticed fixture on his sets.
I filmed periodically, across many of Crewdson’s shoots, unsure how the film would ultimately end. Then Crewdson himself provided a conclusion by finishing the “Beneath the Roses” series. He also decided he was done, at least for the time being, with such large scale productions. His subsequent body of work, “Sanctuary,” appears at the end of the film: black and white images of the decaying backlot of the famous Cinecitta studios outside of Rome. He worked there with a small crew, and apart from spraying some water on the ground, or adding some smoke, he captured the abandoned movie sets as they were. His “Sanctuary” photographs premiered in 2010.