If you consider yourself a Wes Anderson, then you’re also a Robert Yeoman fan by default. The cinematographer has been behind the camera for every live-action movie Anderson has ever shot, from his directorial debut “Bottle Rocket” through his three-time Oscar winner “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and he has thus helped Anderson hone and perfect his beloved directing style. The Telegraph recently spoke with Yeoman about shooting six Anderson films, and the DP was eager to share set stories from each film.
“So many times he would say to me, ‘Oh, this is the kind of shot I’m looking for,’ and I’ll think to myself, ‘How am I going to do that?’ and it’s impossible!” Yeoman told The Telegraph about working with Anderson. “But we always find a way of doing it, and that’s a big part of working him – we always find a way of pulling it off.”
Prior to working with Anderson, Yeoman was well-regarded as the cinematographer of Gus Van Sant’s “Drugstore Cowboy” and William Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A.,” among other titles. Anderson personally hand wrote a letter to Yeoman asking if he’d come on board for his feature debut “Bottle Rocket.” The DP watched Anderson’s short film on which the feature was going to be based on and enjoyed it. He also liked the script and agreed to meet. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Having not made a movie before, there was a certain amount of [Anderson, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson] discovering things along the way, but at the same time they had a pretty clear idea of the movie they wanted to make and I was there to help them facilitate that the best I could,” Yeomen said of his first collaboration with Anderson. “There was a little bit of a learning process, but obviously they’re very bright people and picked up on things very quickly.”
Head over to The Telegraph to read Yeoman’s full interview about his career working with Wes Anderson. The only film he doesn’t discuss in the interview is “Moonrise Kingdom.” We’ve included our favorite quotes about each film below.
“We had Bill Murray, which was a big casting coup for him. I think the canvas was a little bit larger for us in many ways, and I felt that Wes’s grasp of the filmmaking was of a much higher level, and where I really felt he stepped into his own.”
“The Royal Tenenbaums”
“We embraced the idea of shooting the city without showing all the landmarks or really identifying it as New York City. And oddly enough, after the film came out, often times people would say, ‘Hey, where’d you shoot that anyway?’”
“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”
“Things are often beyond your control when you’re at sea, and that meant a certain amount of frustration for me, because you set up shots and the boat would be in a certain position with the light where I was hoping it would be, and then of course during the shot the boats drift and all of a sudden the light isn’t where you want it to be.”
“The Darjeeling Limited”
“Wes likes to push you out of your comfort zone, and sometimes you’re put in very difficult situations. When we did The Darjeeling Limited, we were shooting on a train and he really insisted that the train always had to be moving. And we had to shoot on a real train and not a set, so that presents a certain amount of logistical problems.”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“There was an old department store [in Görlitz, Germany] that was up for lease and that no one was occupying at the time, so he went to visit it and it was like five floors up and there was a beautiful skylight on top…It was kind of a perfect place because they put the production offices and wardrobe people and the camera room all up on the top two floors, and the other floors kind of became our hotel.”