Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Behind the Scenes Storytellers - Part II: Roger Deakins

In case you missed yesterday's post, this week I'm blogging about the people who take part in telling great stories, but work behind the scenes, and are not often well known by the public.

Today I'm writing about Roger Antony Deakins, ASC, BSC. Roger is a Cinematographer, which is sometimes also referred to as a Director of Photography. I'm no film major, so it's possible the two terms are not exactly interchangeable, but they're basically the same thing as far as I know.

Anyway. Roger is mostly known (or unknown) for his collaboration with the Coen brothers, and has been the cinematographer on almost every one of their feature films. But he doesn't only work with them. Deakins was born in England, and studied film at both the Bath School of Art and Design and the National Film and Television School.

He got started as a camera operator not long after school, and his early career consisted mostly of documentaries about Africa. Who doesn't love a good documentary? After that he moved into films about music, working on "rockumentaries" and music features like Van Morrison in Ireland and Sid and Nancy.

Deakins' first American feature was Mountains of the Moon, in 1990, but he worked with the Coen brothers soon after, on the 1991 film, Barton Fink. Deakins received his first major award from the American Society of Cinematographers for his outstanding achievement in cinematography for the internationally praised major motion picture, The Shawshank Redemption. In 2008, Deakins became the first cinematographer in history to receive dual ASC nominations for his works, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and No Country for Old Men.

He received the 2011 American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Roger has been nominated for no less than 9 Academy Awards, but for some reason unknown to god or man, has never won.

Here is a list of some of his most famous films:

  • Barton Fink
  • The Hudsucker Proxy
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Fargo
  • Kundun
  • The Big Lebowski
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • The Man Who Wasn't There
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Intolerable Cruelty
  • The Ladykillers
  • Jarhead
  • No Country for Old Men
  • The Reader
  • Revolutionary Road
  • A Serious Man
  • True Grit

Here are some clips of his work.

Here is a video of him discussing a scene in The Shawshank Redemption with NPR's Melissa Block. The audio is great, but somehow they ruined the video:

Here's another video from the same interview, where the video isn't ruined:

And here's a great featurette about True Grit:

Another unsung hero of behind the scene storytellers. I have to take a break from this series tomorrow, but please still come back!


Bryan Russell said...

Okay, that was awesome.

Natalie Aguirre said...

It's so true that the cinematographer and other behind the scenes people do so much to shape the movie. We sometimes forget that. He was an awesome pick. And I've actually seen some of the movies he worked on.

Jessica Bell said...

Shawshank and Revolutionary Road are two of my most faves ...

Old Kitty said...

Wonderful man - such talent!!! Yay for highlighting his very important work here!!

Take care

Jonathon Arntson said...

Third attempt at commenting, Blogger is being a dick.

Okay, so cinematographer and director of photographer are generally synonymous, but I think the former explains the job more.

We studied Deakins in film class and I my writing has been motivated by his techniques of getting intimate shots that capture the best work of any actor.

Emily White said...

I LOVE The Shawshank Redemption and O Brother, Where Art Thou?! Those are two of my favorite movies.

Clarissa Draper said...

It's awesome that you're recognizing the unsung heroes of film. He took part in making some really amazing films.

Steve Abernathy said...

Don't bypass "Mountains of the Moon", a great neglected epic that needs to be seen by everyone.

Carrie said...

Great highlight of a behind the scenes person. It is so cool to see how some of these scenes came together. Thanks for sharing these great clips.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

His work on True Grit was amazing.

Donna K. Weaver said...

This is really an interesting series you've got going, Matt. It's giving me a lot to think about.

julie fedderson said...

This is the coolest series. I had no idea all of these awesome films were done by the same cinematographer. The Dude Abides!

Michael Offutt said...

I have spent just enough time behind the camera to know exactly how hard it is to pull off what this guy probably does effortlessly. That is true genius and no wonder he's a best-kept secret behind Hollywood films.

Cynthia Lee said...

That is one hell of a resume! I've seen all those movies and that's some incredible work.

maine character said...

I love cinematography, and even took snapshots of still frames of "Jesse James" to try to work the same lighting into my photography, but for some reason I hadn't picked up Deakins's name.

Now I can go back and watch his work again.

Kelly said...

That's an impressive list of movies he's worked on!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Those are some of my favorite movies! It makes so much sense that the same cinematographer worked on all of them. And those videos are a real treat. Thanks!

LTM said...

had my eyes opened about these guys when I worked at the TV station in BR. Camera guys really are the unsung heroes; true partners in the story~ :o)