Roger Deakins is the director of photography on films such as The Shawshank Redemption, A Beautiful Mind, No Country for Old Men, True Grit and Skyfall, the most successful British film ever.
He’s won more than 60 awards for his work, including three Baftas, and was last year presented with a lifetime achievement award by the American Society of Cinematographers.
When he isn’t working, he spends his time living in LA, but his heart belongs to Devon, where he was born. “I miss it every day,” he says.
Here are his top ten tips for becoming a successful cinematographer.
1. Get some life experience
A cinematographer visualises the film and is a director’s right hand on set. I studied photography and then went to the National Film School in England and got into the business that way, but there are all kinds of ways of getting in.
I think it is more important to experience the world, really. You can’t learn cinematography and you can’t copy it. The job is just your way of looking at the world. Maybe that sounds a bit pretentious, but I think life experience is always more important than technical knowledge.
2. Be picky
I’m picky about the sort of material I want to work with, always have been. But usually I’m drawn to scripts that are about characters, I don’t have a love of doing action movies.
It is really important to choose which projects you are going to work on carefully. You are going to be on a film for a long time. I’ve just come back from Australia working on Unbroken with Angelina Jolie, which she was directing.
It’s six months of time and investment, but very worthwhile. I enjoyed it completely, but it was a hard shoot. You work long hours, often you’re working six days a week and you are away from home. There are certain kinds of sacrifices you have to make.