‘Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out,’ Martin Scorsese once said, and photographer Raimond Wouda took his words to heart. Between 2008 and 2013 he visited film sets in Belgium and the Netherlands. The results are alienating. ‘Fictional islands in the present-day landscape,’ he calls his harvest of images.
‘An inexpensive black cloth spine’ and ‘a none too robust cover with white lettering,’ and ‘you could easily overlook it’ were the panel’s opening three comments in the discussion about Ext.-Int. ‘It looks semi-nonchalant, lacking pretension, as if you’ve been handed a film script.’ In a blink, however, Wouda’s photography makes everything all right. ‘Open this book and the rewards are unbelievable.’ In short, the book forces us to ‘look very closely at what is going on.’ Each photo is an event, with its knots of people taken from a distance during filming, extraordinary decors, and re-enacted events from history. Sometimes they even look like crime scenes.
When positioning the photographs the makers have adhered to a range of margins, thereby introducing a variety of rhythms but without detriment to the images. On the contrary, the picture editing in Ext.-Int. is first-rate and at the same time discreet. Even the use of two sorts of paper – note the splitting of the title over two uncoated pages in the interior – has a filmic aspect. One special element, not often seen, is the use of thick sheets of black cardboard to segregate images and text.
At the back there is a list of sets and the dialogues, scenarios or content of the relevant film scenes, plus titles, on uncoated paper; this contrasts with the sturdy Tatami white 135gsm for the photos. Wouda has delivered a unique demonstration of set photography, and it has been given the printing and lithography it deserves. Don’t forget, incidentally, to try the interactive section: using an app to scan a photo you can see the relevant scene from the film.