It was always important that I have my own equipment. When you rented, you could not be sure of matching lenses (color, sharpness). You could only judge this by shooting camera tests and that was impossible, financially and logistically. I was lucky to purchase an Arriflex BL package that consisted of the camera body, film magazines, a 10:1 Angenieux lens, a series of high speed Zeiss prime lenses (fixed focal length) and a bastard 9.8 extreme wide angle lens.
I particularly loved the 10:1 Angenieux, but it was an f4 and couldn’t really be used in extreme low light conditions. I added to the package for years, an Arri 2C (Stanley Kubrick’s favorite), an Arri III for high speed work, several Aatons that became my mainstay (Godard’s favorite), a 6:1 Angenieux (higher speed and closer focus than the 10:1), a 200 and 300 Canon converted to cinema specs (these were high speed as well).
They are all worthless now…except for the lenses.
It was important to know the characteristics of each lens. The Zeiss lenses were particularly sharp. I used various means of diffusion to take the edge off the sharpness and make the imagery more appealing. The commercial fog and diffusion filters were just okay. I preferred to make my own filters with net stockings. I had several versions depending on the particular use. I thought I had this handled…until I met Olivier.
Olivier Benoit was a French camera assistant. I found him checking my gear before a shoot. He was looking at the filters through a loupe. He was also going through a notepad where he kept records of his work. He told me that my diffusion filters were crap.
I looked through his loupe at my filters. Then he showed me an example of Chanel stockings that he used when he worked with Tony Scott. The difference was astounding. The Chanel quality was perfect. That afternoon we were at Chanel, the stocking department going through lingerie. I don’t think we were seen.