Cinematographers Roundtable Discussion

This video is one of the best cinematographers roundtable discussion and it features some of the best cinematographers today.

The THR Cinematographers Roundtable Discussion includes Roger Deakins (Unbroken), Dion Beebe (Into the Woods), Jeff Cronenweth (Gone Girl), Benoit Delhomme (The Theory of Everything) Matthew Libatique (Noah) and Dick Pope (Mr. Turner). I enjoyed the lively discussion about their experiences. They share their insight and thoughts on many topics. It’s a forty minute discussion worth watching. I only wish it was longer!

They start off the discussion by talking about critics and reviews. They share that they always hope the review is good, not because it is rewarding, but because there were a lot of people that worked incredibly hard and it hurts to have the entire movie and all this effort dismissed with just a few words. Roger Deakins adds that people confuse pretty for good cinematography – he goes on to say “There is good cinematography , bad cinematography and then cinematography that is right for the film” a quote that he credited to – Freddy Francis

Next, they comment on the nature of their relationships with directors and how it is important to have trust in each other and what they are doing. They note that the relationship is an evolution and it is great to develop a history with the director. They share that in the beginning, it is important to learn visually what the director wants. Every director is different, it takes time to develop a cinematic language with them and it helps having references to other movies to get an understanding of what the director is looking for, not that you want to copy it but it helps to draw a comparison to certain elements.

There’s some interesting dialog with Jeff Cronenweth, he talks about working with David Fincher, how they share a similar view of the world and it makes it very simple to collaborate on projects. He goes on to say that “their approached to each story and each movie is different” and the choices that are made during filming are far more sophisticated than they may appear to be.

Matthew Libatique discusses how sometimes you may butt heads creatively and shares that he feels that cinematically sometimes it is good for the story to be more subtle or have a lighter hand. They all agree that it is always the most wonderful thing to be asked back to do another film with a director. It is bigger than any credit or review, to know that they enjoyed the experience and want to do another film together.

It’s nice to hear, even with all their experience, they get nervous. Roger Deakins says at the start of every project he still gets “nervous on a set”, he wonders if they can really do this but then he will settle in and the film will find its own way. He jokes that there are still times that he will “agonize over how to light even the smallest scenes.”

There is a lot of information packed in the last ten minutes including:


How they tend to light for the space which provides a more natural looking light and it helps give actors the freedom to move around. They also touch on the importance of blocking.


They agree that one of the hardest things about their job is to “shoot a day exterior over an extended period of time.” They say a weather app has become a director of photographer’s best friend, it helps you to choose an approach and then you “roll the dice.”


Some of the best discussion is regarding the latest technology. They share thoughts on film projection versus digital projection. Most of them like the consistency of digital projection. They also talk about the advantages of shooting on digital cameras, latitude, resolution, HDR and much more

The Cinematographers Roundtable Discussion is a very entertaining and informative video, be sure to check it out!

Categories: Interviews,Production