I think we can all agree that Greig Fraser and Roger Deakins are two of the best cinematographers of all time. That's why it was so amazing to listen to Team Deakins this week, which is one of our favorite podcasts.
Aside from talking shop, the two of them shared stories about shooting projects like Dune, Prisoners, Lion, and The Batman.
A particularly revealing part of the convo involves Fraser saying, “The worst thing is saying yes to a film I knew I shouldn’t have done,” Deakins answered, “I knew I shouldn’t have done a film but I was maybe persuaded by an agent or something like that, and then five weeks later I’m quitting or being fired. Not trusting my gut. Taking a decision based on analysis and not an emotional reaction to the job.”
While Deakins does not name the project, I would venture a guess that it might be In Time, a 2011 movie starring Justin Timberlake.
One question they were willing to answer was about how some of their best work was done on films no one saw. For Fraser, the Garth Davis’ religious drama Mary Magdalene, fit the bill. This was a film that starred Rooney Mara in the title role opposite Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus.
It was a beautiful story that didn't find success at the box office.
“Some of the films I’ve been most happy with have been the films that don’t see a lot of traction,” Fraser said. “For me, Mary Magdalene is the most beautiful film I’ve shot with the performances and the script and the actors and ensemble. But not one saw it. Maybe it’s not the best film I’ve shot, but [I think so].”
For Deakins, his answer was also an underseen classic.
“It’s a bit of a letdown when you’ve spent so much time on something and then it’s either buried or the audience doesn’t relate to it,” Deakins added. “I feel that way with Kundun. It was one of the best experiences of my life, for a lot of different reasons. Not just the challenge of the filmmaking, but the people involved and the crew and the Tibetans. It was just a wonderful experience. And the film was basically buried, frankly. It was really disheartening.”
My favorite thing about Kundun is that great Sopranos joke. but I have never seen the actual movie (I will rent it tonight!)
But the actual movie is known for being wonderful and picturesque.
I can't wait to remedy not seeing it tonight.
What are some of your favorite works from these cinematographers?
Let us know in the comments.
Have you ever been overwhelmed at the possibility of every camera angle, framing, and shot type available as a filmmaker? Us too. So we provided a cheat sheet with definitions for you!