Roger Deakins is not a cinematographer who likes to be pigeonholed into a particular style of cinematography or film genre. Although known as a meticulous planner, there is an instinctive aspect of his process that is important for him to preserve.
“It’s just experiencing and connecting with what’s around you,” said Deakins in an interview with ARRI in conjunction with the company’s 100th anniversary. “I’ve always painted or drawn pictures or taken still photographs; now I shoot movies. It’s just about making images, really.”
It’s for the this reason that the one constant from film to film for Deakins is he’ll always have the same camera operator: himself.
“It’s so much about the movement of the camera and the composition,” said Deakins. “You want to be open to the sort of little things that happen on a set. You can’t be if you have to communicate with an operator, which you can’t do when they’re shooting a shot.”
While Deakins insists the switch to digital from film hasn’t changed the way he works, he does admit as an operator, the lighter camera might extend his career.
“I remember on ‘Jarhead’ running around with a Arri IIC and battery pack around my belt and 200 foot magazine shooting battle sequences running around,” said Deakins. “It’s a pretty heavy camera, It’s pretty hard to do. And now, well it’s obviously with the M-camera everything is so much smaller and lighter and so much easier to do that kind of work with. That’s a big change, you know, but it’s only a change to the effect it has on my back. It doesn’t make me shoot it in a different way. It’s just the equipment has made it a bit easier.”
You can watch Deakins talk more about his cinematography philosophy with ARRI in the video below.
Editor’s Note: This feature is presented in partnership with ARRI, a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of motion picture camera, digital intermediate (DI) and lighting equipment. Founded by two filmmakers 100 years ago, ARRI and its engineers have been recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for contributions to the industry with 19 Scientific and Technical Awards. Click here for more about ARRI.