Since a few years, a name has been recurring in the Academy Award for Best Cinematographer chart, not as the winner, but the runner-up. The name holds the most number  of nominations for cinematography in recent years and some of the movies he had shot are,  The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old Men, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, True Grit, Skyfall, and Sicario. If the incomplete list of movies is not enough to name the iconic cinematographer, this video will reveal more of Roger Deakins to the viewers.

Deakins, who is known as one the greatest cinematographers alive, landed on the Hollywood with Coen BrothersBarton Fink in 1991 and has been their collaborator for almost all the movies since then. Deakins honed his cinematographic inner eye as a passionate still photographer and a documentary filmmaker at the beginning of his career. His experiences in Africa and Europe as a commissioned documentary filmmaker enabled him to experiment with the hitherto unseen look of his visuals.

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Deakins’s personal website is very popular and crowded for his tips, tricks, and general advice. This video provides some of the tips straight from the master’s mouth. He puts the keyword, instinctive, at the beginning of the conversation and emphasizes the importance of being instinctive and reactive on the sets. He exemplifies some instances from the sets of Sam Mendes and Coen Brothers. He asserts the fact that an instinctive cinematographer behind the camera can do a lot of magic in the movie.

When asked about the most challenging tasks in filmmaking, he picks the long hours of preparation before going for the actual shoot. Deakins reveals a constant conflict between the shot inside the head of the cinematographer and the actual visual he could capture.  The intensive research and preparations lessen this conflict to a certain level and enable the cinematographer to be close to the image in his head.

Deakins says the basic plan of action is the guiding map for any cinematographer, but not the cardinal document. He remembers one instance with Ethan Coen, in which they tore apart the storyboard seeing an improvised idea works better for the shot and went for it.

Deakins revealed his dislike for ostentatious camera work many times, and always stresses the importance of the framing, the way one moves the camera, the choice of shot, and the lighting within the scene. As his filmography clears indicates, whether the image you shot is ugly or beautiful, it’s the image you record is all that matter, not even an Oscar for Best Cinematographer. This conversation will give the viewer more reasons to admire Roger Deakins.

Written By: Ragesh Dipu

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