Paul Thomas Anderson Is Not the DP of 'Phantom Thread'. No One Is.

Phantom Thread
This is one phantom thread we were not expecting.

Earlier this year, news emerged that Paul Thomas Anderson was unable to collaborate with his longtime cinematographer Robert Elswit on Anderson's latest project due to scheduling conflicts, and as a result, the writer/director would be assuming the role of DP on Phantom Thread. But now, according to Anderson, that's simply not the case.

Phantom Thread has no cinematographer.

"I know how to point the camera in a good direction, and I know a few things. But I’m not a director of photography."

Anderson clarified the situation in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly:

"That would be disingenuous and just plain wrong to say that I was the director of photography on the film. The situation was that I work with a group of guys on the last few films and smaller side projects. Basically, in England, we were able to sort of work without an official director of photography. The people I would normally work with were unavailable, and it just became a situation where we collaborated — really in the best sense of the word — as a team. I know how to point the camera in a good direction, and I know a few things. But I’m not a director of photography."

The film is being released with no director of photography credit. Instead, Anderson tries to spread the love while deflecting from himself:

"If you can give credit, Michael Bauman is the gaffer that I’ve worked with for many, many years on a lot of projects. I could veto Mike, I guess, but he held a lot of the keys. There was a camera operator, Colin Anderson, I’ve worked with, and Erik Brown, who was the first assistant cameraman and Jeff Kunkel, who was a grip. It was a real package like that. It was a really easy way of working. You have to be very, very careful because there are way too many good cinematographers that I would not put myself in that class for a second."

We can only speculate that Anderson wants audiences to focus on his work as a writer/director, not as a cinematographer, and not taking the director of photography credit means Anderson cannot be considered for cinematography awards for Phantom Thread. No one can.

Phantom Thread arrives in theatres with its phantom DP on December 25.     

You Might Also Like

Your Comment


I wonder if Local 600 has an opinion on this.

November 6, 2017 at 10:49AM

Matthew Stephens

Yeah ditto to that. My guess is because they shot this in England they got around that issue. I think it would at least be harder to pull off States side, but possible.

November 6, 2017 at 1:33PM

Frank McGrath

Didn't know Arya was good at other things besides sword fighting and chameleonizing.

November 6, 2017 at 2:57PM, Edited November 6, 2:59PM


As someone who's done his share of DP work, I've never been comfortable with the term. "Cinematographer" is a more noble and prestigious credit--and it
discourages that small but unfortunate minority of DPs who see themselves as co-director, the senior partner to the "actor's director."

November 6, 2017 at 5:14PM

J Robbins

I think there's no need to speculate. I always find it interesting to think about the making of a film in its own terms. The production process is different in every decade, country, scale and of course every film. At the beginning of the twentieth century the cinematographer was in charge of every aspect of the image (operation, lenses, lighting and of course language) and the "director" was someone with a theater background that was in charge of directing only the actors. The credits of a film are something very rigid when you think about it this way. The changing circumstances allow for a very fluid barrier between every collaborator. So I think it's great for Anderson to recognize that in this film there simply wasn't in set someone that you would call a "dp" and it was instead the product of a team work.

November 6, 2017 at 5:40PM, Edited November 6, 5:40PM

film student

That's interesting.
Expectations are great on this movie.
Daniel, should change his mind for the film lovers...

November 7, 2017 at 1:10AM, Edited November 7, 1:10AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

PTA + DDL always gets my attention.

November 10, 2017 at 9:35AM

David Patterson