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Questions for Mr. Deakins (If this is the right place to ask them?) (1 reply)

4 months ago
mcowan 4 months ago

Hi, everyone!

My name is Michaela, and I'm a freshman in my first year of film school. For this project we're doing, we find someone who has been an idol and an inspiration for us that has played a big role in getting us here. I was hoping that I could ask some questions for Mr. Deakins, but I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask them. If it's not, please let me know, and I apologize in advance if it isn't! 

These are to Mr. Deakins, but if anyone else has input that would be great too 🙂 You don't need to answer all of them! Anything would be appreciated.

  • How did you know that you wanted to go into filmmaking, and then cinematography specifically?
  • What is the first thing you do when you begin to map out a movie?
  • How much does a cinematographer work with the actors, if at all?
  • How many of the shots are decided by the cinematographer vs. the director?
  • How much time does it usually take to completely storyboard and plan out a full-length feature film?
  • What was the difference between storyboarding a traditional movie and 1917 when you didn't have many cuts?
  • When planning and filming 1917, did you have to make sacrifices for shots you wanted to have in order to make it look like one shot?
  • What are some ways that you could recommend getting ready for a career in filmmaking?
  • Who were/are your biggest inspirations?
  • Are there any movies that you would recommend watching when focusing on cinematography?
  • When brainstorming and planning out shots in a movie, how do you know when to use special effects in post? And do you have to film it differently than how you originally planned it?

I am a huge fan. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this, and I'm sorry if it was too long or it wasn't the right place to ask these questions.

Roger Deakins
4 months ago
Roger Deakins 4 months ago

I only gradually came to realized that it was possible for me to work in teh film industry. Only when I went to the NFS did I really think I could be a film maker and felt that being a cinematographer was probably for me.

Talk with the director. Everything comes from those first discussions.

Actors work in different ways. I operate the camera myself so I can be quite involved if that suits the actor and director.

Its a collaboration that can vary depending on the directors needs.

Not all films are storyboarded. On 'BR2049' we storyboarded the whole film over a number of months. 'On 'Jarhead' we shot with the actors on the day without any prior consideration of the way we would cover a scene but we planned out the movie nonetheless.

The concept of '1917' was unusual in that we had no way to cut a scene in an alternative way if a shot didn't work. Nor could we adjust our shot to a location. Every location and set had to facilitate the shot and not the other way around, so our storyboarding process had to be a little more exact.

I don't remember any sacrifices to the shot only to the weather on the day of shooting. Some days we had to shoot when the light could have been 'better'.

So many ways. Study films, take images, read stories....

Hard to say as there were and are so many.

Any of Tarkovsky's movies, Bresson, Melville, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Antonioni ..... Cinematography doesn't stand outside of the final product. If it does it fails.

I would always try to limit effects work as much as possible but, obviously, there are times when it is more cost effective to use CG than create something for real. The choice is always a balance between the end result and the efficiency of the production.


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