By Nick Christophers
During the successful showcasing of the independent film“Searching for Bobby D” among the predominantly Italian cast and crew was the “behind the scenes” key crew member the Director of Photography George Mitas. The film, which featured some of the top names in the business, made a good run and left its mark in the independent film world. George, of Greek background and not a stranger to mob flicks (the Director of Photography on “This Thing of Ours”) blended in perfectly with director-producer Paul Borghese. The film, which developed a good turn out at every screening, has received a number of film awards.
Being in the film business for the past 15 years George has made some impressive strides. A graduate of NYU George always found being behind the camera was the place to be. “I always enjoyed the creativity involved in photography and the possibilities are endless.” His first feature film was distributed by Miramax,” Lying Down with Dogs” in 1995, this was his first real taste of narrative filmmaking.
George tried to explain that, after NYU George he had the pleasure of working along with Woody Allen. As a production assistant he recalls how Woody Allen would re-shoot scenes sometimes as much as twenty times to get it the way he wanted it. “Like me Woody is a creative person who just likes to get it right.” George attributes his style of shooting to directors like Orson Wells and Alfred Hitchcock. “I utilize a lot of their techniques in my work.”
Many people do not understand what the director of photography does. “It is an interesting question what do I do. I am in some ways the right hand man to the director. There are times where I have to alter the script because of environmental issues. We may need to change the scene or the day of the shoot. Sometimes the actors may not like my plans but it is for the good of the film. Working with Paul Borghese was great we connected well and made a fun film. It is all about the camera that most people do not realize that. Our day is not a 9-5 day it is sometimes 12-16 hour day. Every minute is valuable. The director directs the actors I direct the camera in the hopes of capturing the directors vision.”
George landed his spot on “Searching for Bobby D” from his past work on the mob flick “ This Thing Of Ours” which starred Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos) and Frank Vincent (The Sopranos, Goodfellas etc.) to name a few. Paul recognized George’s work and requested his talents.
George’s background was first in music videos, which appeared on MTV but he was always interested on film. His first feature was with Wally White called “Lying down With Dogs” which was distributed by Miramax. Even though it seemed like a big break for George with his first feature it was still a struggle. “You devote your time and effort into a project and always strive for more and hopefully you get there.”
Working on the “This Thing of Ours” with writer, director and producer Danny Provenzano was an experience to say the least. Even though, at times on the set there were many “wise-guy” characters around George worked very well with Danny Provenzano. The film was the spring- board to his recent work “Searching for Bobby D”. Working on independent films, George admits, is always an enjoyable experience. “You never know what to expect. Working with Louie Vanaria was great he really offered the true meaning to improvisation.”
George also travels between California and New Jersey many times in the year for business. In California he has worked a few times with director Justin Hixon from Video Box. He directed the video “Hey Jealousy” by Jim Blossoms, which George was the cameraman. Since his work on “Hey Jealousy” he has become a part of Justin’s production team. Besides taking on feature films and music videos George also shot promos for ABC. He also worked closely with Adam Cohen a well-known name in the TV industry. Adam Cohen was the head creative on Pontiac campaign introducing of the “Vibe”, the commercials aired during the Super-Bowl. This was his first car commercial but unfortunately the second day of shooting was interrupted by 9/11.
There was always one project that George wanted to tackle on a personal level. He wanted to give back to the Greek community by filming a documentary on the trials and tribulations of the priesthood. He offered his idea to his priest, Father George Orphanakos (from Clifton, NJ) who is presently retired. But his plan never came to fruition. Father Orphanakos told George that it would be hard to accomplish among a growing bureaucracy.
“I still would hope to be able to contribute something to the Greek community who has offered me so much. If I can help some other Greek out, why not? It is important to help each other if possible.”
When it comes to the quality of a film, George supports the theory that a film should not be judged just by its content or by its cinematography but by both aspects. “I only feel comfortable if both are up to par. It seems the older I get the better I have become and the more desirable I am to shoot major feature films.” On the horizon George has projects slated to shoot with Paul Borghese and Danny Provenzano. If the project is worthy of tackling George will make another mark in the field of cinematography.