- What personality or character traits are necessary to excel in being a cinematographer/DP?
Drinking coffee (I don’t drink coffee), taking ages to light a scene, bragging about your work on Instagram and always telling stories about your last job.
- In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?
There are too many to name, but I’ll try:
– I love Barry Ackroyd’s work, he has a very ‘real’ way of shooting.
– One of the greats – Jack Cardiff, purely because I admire his whole work ethic: he enjoyed being a DP so much he never really wanted to retire I believe.
– Obviously Mr Roger Deakins, every single shot is as gorgeous as his last, his lighting is gorgeous and it’s so inspiring the way he is so humble about everything he does.
– Emmanuel Lubezki, I love the way he uses the camera in such an amazing and unique way.
– Anthony Dod Mantle for me just has such an amazing way of seeing things!
– Matthew Libatique, I mean – purely for the work he did on ‘Requiem for a Dream’ he stands out for me, truly breathtaking.
Etc etc, the list goes on…
- What makes good cinematography?
For me good cinematography is cinematography that tells the story appropriately and enhances the narrative.
- What makes a good camera? And what has been your favorite camera to use?
What makes a good camera for me: usability, functionality, a camera that can sit there, produce a lovely image and do its job without me needing to work around issues with it and without things going wrong. Also, whatever camera is most suitable for the job. The ‘best’ camera is not always the one that is right for the job. My favourite camera to use: I wouldn’t say I have one, it depends on the job, we might be shooting on film, digital or even VHS. When on digital I often find myself going back to the Alexa Mini. Small, reliable and a brilliant image.
- Do you think that cinematographer’s work has changed when movies went from film to digital?
Undoubtedly it has. I won’t try get into this because this is a huge discussion. But I think there are directors and cinematographers who have truly embraced the digital format and used it to all its benefits. As there are also directors who refuse to use anything else other than film and many cinematographers who will always push to shoot on film wherever they can. I don’t think movies have moved from film to digital though, I don’t think that has happened yet and I don’t think it ever will. I think digital is another tool for us in the same way film is a tool. I feel like in some ways having an image there straight away might allow you to be a bit more creative in certain time constrained situations. I’m looking at it differently to all the great cinematographers, because they grew up on film. I grew up on digital and film is a new and fascinating thing for me. I love everything about it though, I shoot on it whenever I can and whenever it is appropriate.
- Now that people watch films on TV, computers and even their phones, do you think about that end experience when you are shooting?
I feel like I definitely should be. I think for commercial content it’s essential, you need to be very aware of where the content is going to be seen. I feel for most narrative work one should always aim for a big screen showing, or at least a home cinema. Because after all that’s where movies should be shown right?
- Which one is more important: light or shadow?
This is a very deep question; I’m going to go with shadow. Because after all light is shadow isn’t it? …now we’re getting deep.
- What is the cinematographer’s involvement in pre-production, production and post-production?
Primarily the cinematographer’s role is to carry the story and the vision of the director through cinematography. This all starts in pre production; this is a very important stage for the cinematographer. It’s the time to learn about the story and the vision of the director(s) and work with them very closely in designing how the camera is going to tell that story. It’s the time to plan out many things such as the lighting – working closely with your gaffer. Also working closely with the art department amongst many other things. During production it’s about putting all that planning into place, managing your teams and being able to work around things that might go wrong as they often will on set. In post production you need to be able to oversee the look of the project, this involves working closely with a colorist and director to finalize the look of the project.
- What involvement in the production budget does the cinematographer/DP have?
Not that much unfortunately. If I did, I would double it so can have all my lights.
- What is your most valuable advice for being a Cinematographer/DP?
Always try to be shooting – anything at all. Always stay hungry to learn and don’t worry if you don’t know something. Even the people we look up to the most didn’t know some things at one point and I’m sure there are things that they still don’t know. That’s the beauty of all this – we’re all always learning.
The Rabbit’s Foot
Director: Charlie Brafman, Magnus McCullagh
Country: United Kingdom
Synopsis: ‘Lucky’ Francis, a card player blessed with an improbable degree of fortune, is digging a grave next to the old hanging tree, nine miles west of Yackton. An uncivilised brute by the name of William Barleycorn rides through the desert to meet him, having accused Francis of a most blasphemous indecency. Naturally, scores must be settled… Meanwhile, in a river out beyond Cob’s Hollow, in parts as yet uncharted, a hitherto luckless prospector has struck gold and the worm may finally have turned… But fate is a fickle friend, as the prospector has surely learned by now. Under the auspices of a mystical rabbit’s foot, the fortunes of these three men shall intertwine with fatal consequences in this pitch black comic fable.