An acclaimed photographer with the eye of a filmmaker, Gregory Crewdson has created some of the most gorgeously haunting pictures in the history of the medium. His meticulously composed, large-scale images are stunning narratives of small-town American life — moviescapes crystallized into a single frame. While the photographs are staged with crews that rival many feature film productions, Crewdson takes inspiration as much from his own dreams and fantasies as the worlds of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Edward Hopper and Diane Arbus. Crewdson’s imagery has also infiltrated the pop culture landscape— including his inimitable Six Feet Under ads and Yo La Tengo album art. Shot over a decade with unprecedented access, GREGORY CREWDSON: BRIEF ENCOUNTERS beautifully bares the artist’s process — and it’s as mesmerizing and riveting as the images themselves.


“My pictures are about a search for a moment — a perfect moment. To me the most powerful moment in the whole process is when everything comes together and there is that perfect, beautiful, still moment. And for that instant, my life
makes sense.” —Gregory Crewdson

Photographer Gregory Crewdson doesn’t just “take” images, he creates them through weeks and months of elaborate invention, design, and set-up. Over the course of nearly a decade he created one of the most elaborate photo projects ever attempted: a series of haunting, surreal, and stunningly elaborate portraits of small-town American life — perfect renderings of a disturbing, imperfect world.

The epic production of these movie-like images is both intensely personal and highly public: they begin in Crewdson’s deepest fantasies and memories, but come to life on streets and soundstages, in the hill towns of Western Massachusetts. Crewdson’s productions are movie-scale. He works with crews of up to 60 that build 90 foot-long custom sets, block off city streets, and place hundreds of lights in shop windows. In the course of these productions, Crewdson faces seemingly countless logistical and creative obstacles—all to achieve what he describes as “one perfect frozen moment.”

Up until now, many of the details of how Crewdson creates these stunning photographs have been a mystery, only known by his crews and by the photographer himself. 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.

In addition to the process of making his photographs, GREGORY CREWDSON: BRIEF ENCOUNTERS reveals the life-story behind the work— through Crewdon’s frank reflections on his life and career, including the formative influences of his psychologist father and his childhood fascination with the work of Diane Arbus.