Roger Deakins On How He Began His Journey!

By Arun Fulara. Posted on October 12, 2015

Found this amazing interview of actor Jeff Bridges with one of our favourite cinematographers Roger Deakins over at Interview magazine.

The Academy Award winning DOP talks about his early years and how he got into films. As is expected, Jeff Bridges is an interesting interviewer and the interview is more of a conversation between two old friends. The veteran DOP talks about how he got started as a cinematographer.

BRIDGES: So when you started out, what was your first memory of saying, "Wow, this is something I can do for the rest of my life as a profession"?

DEAKINS: Well, I suppose everyone gets into it in a different way. I loved film when I was kid because I was in a film society in Torquay, which is near where I am now, down in Devon. And I used to go and watch films. I fell in love with movies. My dad was a builder, so I didn't have any connection to the arts at all. I never really considered film as a career, but I knew I didn't want to be a builder. [laughs] So I went to art college, and it just gradually happened. I heard that the National Film School was opening up, so I applied. And when I first started, I saw myself shooting documentaries or making documentaries, which is what I did, mostly, for a number of years. So it was quite a surprise how I found myself shooting features. It was like my wildest dreams as a kid collided, you know?

BRIDGES: Did you start with still camera?

DEAKINS: Yeah. When I left art college, I was a still photographer for a year. I was working for an art center in North Devon that started a record of rural life in North Devon before it disappeared all together. Because at that point, it was the early '70s, and the rural way of life was changing quite quickly.

BRIDGES: You directed documentaries as well.

DEAKINS: I directed some. Sometimes I was what they called an assignment cameraman—I'd go off with a sound recordist, so there was no director. So I would shoot, basically, a documentary, and the editor would be named the director. [Bridges laughs] And it was produced for television. At the time, I didn't mind. I suppose I do mind a bit now. I didn't mind back then because I was getting the work and the experience. And, as far as I was concerned, I was more or less making the films.

BRIDGES: Did you work your way up? Were you, like, a focus puller and an operator? Or you just jumped right in?

DEAKINS: No, I was shooting documentaries, mostly, and a lot of rock videos, and then I got the chance to shoot a feature film with a guy I knew at film school. He was doing a fairly low-budget feature film for Channel 4 television in England [Another Time Another Place, 1983]. The film was released theatrically, and it was very successful. It actually played at the Cannes Film Festival. I didn't really turn back after that. I made two other films [1984 and White Mischief, 1988] with the same director [Michael Radford] in rapid succession.

 Make sure you read the full article here.


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