Roger Deakins Explains His Personal Connection to Cinematography
"It's experiencing life."
Though Roger Deakins has yet to ever win an Oscar, he is one of the most highly regarded cinematographers in the world. His talent for telling stories through his beautiful imagery is world-renowned and he's worked with some of the greatest directors in history, including Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Frank Darabont, and Denis Villeneuve. ARRI interviewed Deakins for its "The Filmmaker's View" series to talk about his love for, philosophy on, and approach to cinematography and his responses provide burgeoning DPs everywhere so much to learn from.
Why he loves movies
Deakins is a great lover of films, referring to them in the interview as "old friends" that he has spent his life with. "They pose questions to me," he says about his love for them in his youth, a love that initially led him to get into painting, graphic design, and photography before he started his career as a documentary cinematographer in the 70s.
"I don't think I have a style."
If you asked Deakins what elements of a film influence him he'd say the mood and the emotional connection he makes with them, not the particular style used to create the aesthetic. And this stance certainly reveals itself in the framework of his cinematography, considering how his work, the lighting, framing, and camera movement, all serve the project he's collaborating on.
"I always thought, when I was doing documentaries, if you could just show people what it would be like to be their neighbor, show one person what it's like to be that other person, the world would be such a better place."
The battle between film and digital has been raging for some time, with some DPs and directors having strong opinions about the great exodus from the former. However, Deakins explains that shooting on digital cameras hasn't changed the way he works all that much. He says that though cameras have become smaller, lighter, and generally easier to work with, "it's only really a change to the effect it has on my back. It doesn't make me shoot it a different way."
Even though Deakins has been working in film for over 40 years, shooting over 56 films that have garnered him 13 Oscar nominations, he says that he's not slowing down anytime soon. "There are still so many things I want to do. Every project is exciting in a different way."