Shooting a movie with an icon like Martin Scorsese has to be a dream for any cinematographer, but it’s just another day at work for Rodrigo Prieto. The 51-year-old Mexican cinematographer rose to prominence lensing movies for Alejandro González Iñárritu and Ang Lee, but in the last several years he has emerged as the go-to DP for none other than Scorsese. He’s been behind the camera for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the “Vinyl” pilot and “Silence,” for which he’s Oscar nominated this year, and he’s now in production on “The Irishman.”
You don’t work on four major Scorsese projects without forming a unique rhythm with the master filmmaker, and Prieto provided some details on what it’s like shooting a Scorsese picture in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. For starters, Scorsese isn’t exactly a control freak when it comes to shooting. He works with Prieto solely from an emotional angle and doesn’t concern himself with the logistics of cinematography. It’s up to Prieto to figure out the tech based on the emotions Scorsese wants to capture.
“He makes a detailed shot list for the film, sometimes including diagrams or drawings, and shares it with me,” Prieto says of their working style. “[Then once we get on set], he will express his reaction to a shot I am setting up in terms of what he wants it to feel like; not with a specific instruction of a focal length or any technical detail.
He continues, “He may say, ‘It needs more energy’ or ‘Could it be more extreme?’ or ‘This should feel peaceful.’ Sometimes he’ll talk about the mood and atmosphere in terms of specific colors he sees in his mind. I really love interpreting his ideas and bringing his designs onto the screen.”
While shooting “Silence,” a lot of capturing Scorsese’s desired atmosphere meant trusting the environment and even re-shooting entire scenes if the weather changed and seemed more ideal for how the scene should feel. “Sometimes the constantly changing weather gave us unexpected atmospheric gifts,” he says.
For more from Preito’s full-length interview, head over to The Hollywood Reporter. The duo are currently in production on “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro.