Found the original source of those "rules." They were pieced together by others, and Lubezki's comments are important
When they began planning The New World
, Malick and Lubezki sketched out a set of rules that, over time, evolved into what the crew called “the dogma.” However, Lubezki observes that rules have always been a mainstay of his own work. “In all the movies I’ve done, I always worked with a set of rules — they help me to find the tone and the style of the film,” he says. “Art is made of constraints. When you don’t have any, you go crazy, because everything is possible.”
He says his previous movies were dictated by rules such as using only one lens, or shooting the entire film at T2.8. Although there is no written version of the Malick-Lubezki dogma on Tree, interviews with the cinematographer and some key collaborators suggest some parameters:
• Shoot in available natural light
• Do not underexpose the negative Keep true blacks
• Preserve the latitude in the image
• Seek maximum resolution and fine grain
• Seek depth with deep focus and stop: “Compose in depth”
• Shoot in backlight for continuity and depth
• Use negative fill to avoid “light sandwiches” (even sources on both sides)
• Shoot in crosslight only after dawn or before dusk; never front light
• Avoid lens flares
• Avoid white and primary colors in frame
• Shoot with short-focal-length, hard lenses
• No filters except Polarizer
• Shoot with steady handheld or Steadicam “in the eye of the hurricane”
• Z-axis moves instead of pans or tilts
• No zooming
• Do some static tripod shots “in midst of our haste”
• Accept the exception to the dogma (“Article E”)
With a laugh, Lubezki notes, “Our dogma is full of contradictions!
For example, if you use backlight, you will get flares, or if you go for a deep stop, you will have more grain because you need a faster stock. So you have to make these decisions on the spot: what is better in this case, grain or depth?
“The most important rule for me is to not underexpose,” he continues. “We want the blacks; we don’t like milky images. Article E does not apply to underexposure!” The cinematographer concedes that there is a single underexposed shot in Tree, an amazing accomplishment for a film shot in such free form.