Roger Deakins Responds to (Finally) Winning His First Oscar for ‘Blade Runner 2049’

After being nominated 14 times and finally snagging his first Oscar, the awards-averse cinematographer still doesn’t seem that hung up on accolades.

The drought is over. After (finally) breaking his own 14-nomination streak without a win Sunday night, lauded cinematographer Roger Deakins earned his first Academy Award for his work on Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049.”

Deakins has never seemed especially tethered to the notion that awards are essential to his work, telling IndieWire just last month, “Sure, it’s nice of people to see your work and appreciate [it] – I don’t know really. I just move on and I like shooting films.”

He added, “I mean, okay, it’s such a weird, weird thing when a film gets ignored or a film gets talked about. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Some of what I consider my best work and some of the best films that I’ve ever worked on, kind of disappear without a trace. There’s no accounting for it. Something connects or something doesn’t.”

Backstage after his win, Deakins remained similarly relaxed about his statuette. “I mean, a big part of me was saying, ‘Please, please no,'” he said when asked what it felt like to finally take the stage for his big win.

“It’s great,” Deakins continued. “I think it’s great because, I’ve worked with a lot of the same people, my crew, for years and years, and I feel it’s recognition for their work. I really do. And I know they’re all kind of watching in New York and London and Budapest, and I’d like to mention every one of them, because that’s just great for them, I think.”

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Oscars: How Roger Deakins Finally Won For Best Cinematography — and Why ‘Planet of the Apes’ Lost Again

Cinematographer Roger Deakins finally won his elusive Oscar for “Blade Runner 2049,” while “Dunkirk” scored three crafts awards.

The biggest craft stories of the 90th Academy Awards: Cinematographer Roger Deakins finally winning the Oscar (after 14 nominations) for “Blade Runner 2049,” and the Denis Villeneuve-directed “Blade Runner” sequel upsetting “War for the Planet of the Apes” for VFX.

Deakins, the greatest cinematographer of his generation, was honored at long last for his naturalistic brilliance, making the “Blade Runner” universe adapt to his aesthetic, and putting his unmistakable imprint on every visual aspect, including VFX. And “Blade Runner 2049” honored the legacy of Ridley Scott’s iconic original by limiting green screen, keeping sets close to camera, and making it look photographic. Yet the sequel also offered a major step in digital human animation with the recreation of Sean Young’s Rachael replicant.

However, with a third consecutive VFX loss for “Apes,” the Academy once again denied Weta Digital the Oscar for its remarkable Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Bad Ape (Steve Zahn). It was a unique experience particularly for Serkis to play the sentient simian from birth to death in the trilogy, and Weta rose to the challenge of capturing and animating his performance with greater nuance in “War.”

Yet despite a campaign to convince voters that an emotional performance is Oscar worthy regardless of whether it’s digital or live-action, there was still enough resistance to put “Blade Runner” over the top. In addition to the respect he commands, Deakins also was aided by the high-profile nature of the “Blade Runner” sequel. From Villeneuve on down, everyone acknowledged the auteur-like status of his lighting. And it ultimately became a stealth campaign to help him win the Oscar.

Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins on the set of "Blade Runner 2049"

Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins on the set of “Blade Runner 2049”

Stephen Vaughan

The project began with Villeneuve’s directive that it look like a harsh February winter in Montreal, and that the color yellow embody innocence and creation. But the execution was left up to Deakins. And what he achieved was a visual balance between brutalism and beauty.

Three images helped seal the deal: The artificial sunlight effect in the office of Jared Leto’s Wallace, with the pool of water projecting caustic patterns on the walls, the romantic warmth between K (Ryan Gosling) and the holographic Joi (Ana de Armas), and the surreal red landscape of Vegas, where K travels on the road to destiny with Deckard (Harrison Ford).

In a race marked by noteworthy CG character animation, “Blade Runner” (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover) not only delivered Rachael but also Joi. The two-minute Rachael sequence brought an emotionally conflicted reunion with Deckard that required technical virtuosity and subtle performance by Oscar-winning MPC (“The Jungle Book”). After drilling in all of Young’s mannerisms into the youthful CG model, they honed in on the performance, creating a three-beat arc consisting of confidence, longing, and rejection.

“Blade Runner 2049”

Joi, by contrast, was more of an advanced analog creation, alternating between looking realistic and artificial. The key was having her character help humanize replicant K. Production VFX supervisor Nelson and Double Negative’s Lambert came up with a 360-degree transparency effect for her. But the highlight was the three-way sex scene between K, Joi, and replicant prostitute Mariette (Mackenzie Davis). For that, DNeg shot the women separately (with lighting assistance from Deakins), merged them with the CG models, and inventively created a third face that upped the emotional experience.

Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water” earned Oscars for production design (Paul Austerberry) and original score (Alexandre Desplat). Their work instilled the Cold War-era fable from Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro with watery metaphors that enhanced the romance between the mute custodian (Sally Hawkins) and the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones). Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” about the world of London haute couture in the 1950s, took home the costume design award for Mark Bridges. These marked the second Oscars for both Desplat (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and Bridges (“The Artist”).

Tom Hardy, “Dunkirk

Additionally, Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” captured three Oscars for editing (Lee Smith), sound editing (Richard King), and sound mixing (Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, Mark Weingarten). The immersive World War II survival thriller was an experimental tour de force, playing with time with clockwork precision and putting us in the center of the action on land, sea, and air. For King, his fourth Oscar represents a record for sound editing. The other three were for “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Inception.” Landaker, too, has earned four Oscars (“Speed,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back”) and Rizzo previously won for “Inception.”

“Darkest Hour” won for makeup/hairstyling (Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick). Tsuji, a master of special makeup effects, was lured out of retirement by Best Actor winner Gary Oldman to transform him into Winston Churchill, and he became the first Asian from his category to win the Oscar.

Coco

Pixar’s “Coco” claimed Oscars for animated feature (the studio’s ninth) and the original song, “Remember Me” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez). Director Lee Unkrich (who previously won for “Toy Story 3”) and co-director Adrian Molina made a stirring and colorful love letter to Mexico and Día de los Muertos. “Remember Me,” which underscored the theme of family, marked the second Oscar for the husband and wife Lopez team (“Frozen’s” “Let It Go”).

“Dear Basketball” took animated short honors, riding the star power of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who teamed with Disney legend Glen Keane (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid”). Despite its slightness, “Dear Basketball” nonetheless displayed Keane’s hand-drawn prowess in depicting Bryant’s aspirational dream and balletic flights of fancy.

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Oscars: Roger Deakins Finally Wins, Snapping the Longest-Ever Losing Streak

Roger Deakins might be the greatest living cinematographer, and he’s finally – finally! – getting the credit he deserves. Deakins won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, snapping the longest losing streak in Oscar history.

Deakins’s nomination for “Blade Runner 2049” marked his 14th nomination dating back to 1995, but this is his first win.

“I really love my job. I’ve been doing it a long time as you can see,” Deakins said upon winning his Oscar. “It’s for us, because it was a team, a real team effort.”

Deakins has been nominated for his work with the Coen Brothers, Sam Mendes and his director on “Blade Runner 2049,” Denis Villeneuve. Some of his notable, yet Oscar-losing work, included other Best Picture nominees “Fargo,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “No Country for Old Men,” which went on to win Best Picture. This win follows Deakins earning top honors from the American Society of Cinematographers.

Also Read: Roger Deakins Doesn’t Think He’s Overdue for an Oscar – Even After 14 Nominations

In speaking with TheWrap for the Down to the Wire Oscars magazine, Deakins didn’t think he was overdue for the award. “Some of the greatest work is never appreciated, so from my point, it’s wonderful to be appreciated over the years,” he said.

“Blade Runner 2049” is the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, shot by Jordan Cronenweth, who never won an Oscar either. The special effects heavy “Blade Runner 2049” is dazzling, but Deakins told TheWrap you’d be surprised how much was actually captured in-camera without the aid of CGI.

“I think that’s a lot of the fun of my job. And there’s something about doing it in camera that’s a reality you don’t get with a computer, no matter how good the work is,” Deakins said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Roger Deakins Doesn’t Think He’s Overdue for an Oscar – Even After 14 Nominations

‘Sicario’ Cinematographer Roger Deakins Hunts for One Perfect Angle

Roger Deakins, Janusz Kaminski Nominated by American Society of Cinematographers, Again

Roger Deakins might be the greatest living cinematographer, and he’s finally – finally! – getting the credit he deserves. Deakins won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, snapping the longest losing streak in Oscar history.

Deakins’s nomination for “Blade Runner 2049” marked his 14th nomination dating back to 1995, but this is his first win.

“I really love my job. I’ve been doing it a long time as you can see,” Deakins said upon winning his Oscar. “It’s for us, because it was a team, a real team effort.”

Deakins has been nominated for his work with the Coen Brothers, Sam Mendes and his director on “Blade Runner 2049,” Denis Villeneuve. Some of his notable, yet Oscar-losing work, included other Best Picture nominees “Fargo,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “No Country for Old Men,” which went on to win Best Picture. This win follows Deakins earning top honors from the American Society of Cinematographers.

In speaking with TheWrap for the Down to the Wire Oscars magazine, Deakins didn’t think he was overdue for the award. “Some of the greatest work is never appreciated, so from my point, it’s wonderful to be appreciated over the years,” he said.

“Blade Runner 2049” is the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, shot by Jordan Cronenweth, who never won an Oscar either. The special effects heavy “Blade Runner 2049” is dazzling, but Deakins told TheWrap you’d be surprised how much was actually captured in-camera without the aid of CGI.

“I think that’s a lot of the fun of my job. And there’s something about doing it in camera that’s a reality you don’t get with a computer, no matter how good the work is,” Deakins said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Roger Deakins Doesn't Think He's Overdue for an Oscar – Even After 14 Nominations

'Sicario' Cinematographer Roger Deakins Hunts for One Perfect Angle

Roger Deakins, Janusz Kaminski Nominated by American Society of Cinematographers, Again

Roger Deakins Explains Why He Insists on Operating the Camera Himself — Watch

The 14-time Oscar nominee shares with ARRI his philosophy of cinematography

Roger Deakins is not a cinematographer who likes to be pigeonholed into a particular style of cinematography or film genre. Although known as a meticulous planner, there is an instinctive aspect of his process that is important for him to preserve.

“It’s just experiencing and connecting with what’s around you,” said Deakins in an interview with ARRI in conjunction with the company’s 100th anniversary. “I’ve always painted or drawn pictures or taken still photographs; now I shoot movies. It’s just about making images, really.”

It’s for the this reason that the one constant from film to film for Deakins is he’ll always have the same camera operator: himself.

“It’s so much about the movement of the camera and the composition,” said Deakins. “You want to be open to the sort of little things that happen on a set. You can’t be if you have to communicate with an operator, which you can’t do when they’re shooting a shot.”

While Deakins insists the switch to digital from film hasn’t changed the way he works, he does admit as an operator, the lighter camera might extend his career.

“I remember on ‘Jarhead’ running around with a Arri IIC and battery pack around my belt and 200 foot magazine shooting battle sequences running around,” said Deakins. “It’s a pretty heavy camera, It’s pretty hard to do. And now, well it’s obviously with the M-camera everything is so much smaller and lighter and so much easier to do that kind of work with. That’s  a big change, you know, but it’s only a change to the effect it has on my back. It doesn’t make me shoot it in a different way. It’s just the equipment has made it a bit easier.”

You can watch Deakins talk more about his cinematography philosophy with ARRI in the video below.

Editor’s Note: This feature is presented in partnership with ARRI, a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of motion picture camera, digital intermediate (DI) and lighting equipment. Founded by two filmmakers 100 years ago, ARRI and its engineers have been recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for contributions to the industry with 19 Scientific and Technical Awards. Click here for more about ARRI.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Cinematographer Roger Deakins Made Light “Feel Alive” With Computer-Controlled Rigs

Teaming with Denis Villeneuve on Blade Runner 2049—a well-received sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic—cinematographer Roger Deakins took on what the director has called “the most expensive art house movie in cinema history,” seamlessly recreating the aesthetic of the original film while building out its world. Back in the running at the Oscars this year with his 14th nomination—and looking for his first win—Deakins was compelled to take on the ambitious project…

Teaming with Denis Villeneuve on Blade Runner 2049—a well-received sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic—cinematographer Roger Deakins took on what the director has called "the most expensive art house movie in cinema history," seamlessly recreating the aesthetic of the original film while building out its world. Back in the running at the Oscars this year with his 14th nomination—and looking for his first win—Deakins was compelled to take on the ambitious project…

Roger Deakins’ Legacy is Bigger Than an Oscar: A Frank Conversation With the Cinematography Legend

After 14 nominations will the biggest name in cinematography really lose again? It’s a question everyone, except Deakins, is asking.

The Roger talk started in July, when the “Blade Runner 2049” trailer dropped three months before the film’s release. From just two minutes of footage, it was clear that Denis Villeneuve’s reimagining of the Ridley Scott’s visionary world 32 years into the future could finally provide a sufficiently stunning showcase for the“naturalistic” cinematographer.

But during the long awards season, another narrative came into play. Deakins’ recognition may be long overdue after 14 nominations, but there was also an entire gender that had been previously overlooked. This was the year that Rachel Morrison’s stunning work on “Mudbound” received the first-ever Oscar nomination for a female cinematographer.

The result is a front-page level of attention for a below-the-line category. Deakins like to preach that DPs should go unnoticed, but that’s not to be this year. “I’m really happy working on this film ‘The Goldfinch’ right now,” joked Deakins in an interview with IndieWire last Saturday morning following a late-night shoot on director John Crowley’s adaptation of Donna Tartt’s novel for Warner Brothers and Amazon. “That’s my focus.

“Sure, it’s nice of people to see your work and appreciate [it] – I don’t know really,” said Deakins, pausing to collect his thoughts. “I just move on and I like shooting films. I mean, okay, it’s such a weird, weird thing when a film gets ignored or a film gets talked about. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Some of what I consider my best work and some of the best films that I’ve ever worked on, kind of disappear without a trace. There’s no accounting for it. Something connects or something doesn’t.”

“Blade Runner 2049”

Stephen Vaughan

While he reportedly has an aversion for the awards circuit, Deakins is more than happy to talk shop. Unlike other great DPs like Emmanuel Lubezki or Mark Lee Ping-bing – who have difficulty putting their visual craft into words –  Deakins is happy to break down, in great technical detail, how he achieved virtually any shot. Maintaining his own website, rogerdeakins.com, he logs on – even after a long day in production – to answer young filmmakers’ questions with concrete specifics and a clear description of his lighting and camera philosophies. While he is careful to constantly repeat “there are no rules,” his demystification of creating amazing imagery carries the underlying message that good cinematography isn’t magic; it’s a skill and a discipline.

Deakins has been recognized with multiple awards from his peers in the ASC; his lack of Oscars ultimately says more about the Academy than it does his legacy. Traditionally, the Best Cinematography Oscar is tied to Best Picture. Since 1989 (when the British Deakins began working in America), only four Best Cinematography Oscar winners did not also receive a Best Picture nomination; more often than not, the two awards go to the same film. Of Deakins’ 14 nominations, only five of those films also received a Best Picture nomination. Part of Deakins’ awards problem (if you want to call it that) is he is often drawn to character- and director-driven scripts that often receive critical acclaim, but remain on the periphery of Best Picture consideration.

In 2008, the one year a film he shot won Best Picture (“No Country For Old Men”), Deakins was a double nominee: His work on “No Country” was in direct competition with what many consider his masterpiece, “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.” Robert Elswit, who won both the Oscar and ASC Award for “There Will Be Blood” that year, was likely only half joking when he suggested a special category: “Films shot by Roger Deakins.”

"Stalker"

“Stalker”

As for the visual playground of science fiction, Deakins loves the genre. Andrei Tarkovsky’s films are some his favorite films of all-time, while shooting Orwell’s “1984” put him on the map. However, he avoided sprawling fantasy films after a bad experience on his first big Hollywood film, “Air America,” in 1990. With three discrete production units, the film never lived up to its original conception. “The scale and the amorphic nature of working on it was something I didn’t care for, and it was so disappointing in terms of not living up to the expectation I had. The script was smart and subversive, I thought.”

Over 25 years later, as one collaborator recently told IndieWire, Deakins requires a level of control that would place the cinematographer in an “absolute personal hell” if he were ever to shoot a tudio superhero movie. With Villeneuve, a collaborator who is every bit as visually specific as Deakins, “Blade Runner” was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. For Deakins, who admits he “absolutely obsesses” about creating unified look for a film, “Blade Runner 2049” would be an enormous challenge with its incredible diversity of visual worlds and multiple layers.

Luckily, it was a world he could conceive from the ground up. Villeneuve was pressed for time, and would need to start conceiving the visual world while he was still editing “Arrival,” so he brought Deakins up to Montreal. “My way to put my foot on the gas to make things happen faster was to create a dialogue with Roger very early on,” said Villeneuve. “I would be in dialogue rather than dreaming alone, which can take a very long time in my case.”

Adds Deakins, “A film that’s of that scale, it was kind of an open book. You have to have some starting point. You got an army of people waiting for you to move forward with all the things that they have to do and it’s like, ‘Where are we gonna even shoot?”

Deakins and Villeneuve travelled, walking around cities and landscapes, and quickly got on the same page about wanting to ground their 2049 dystopia in a recognizable reality. Drawing inspiration from the brutalist architecture of London, the smog of the Beijing, the shipyards of Bangladesh, and the red dust storms of the Sahara, Deakins describes their concept as, “what would feel possible based on what is already happening today.”

"Blade Runner 2049"

“Blade Runner 2049”

Stephen Vaughan

There’s a misconception that, because Deakins favors lighting that looks naturalistic, he is a cinematographer who works with natural light. Rather, he plans, tests, and sketches pages of hyper-specific and complicated lighting setups, which his gaffer follows like a blueprint. Working closely with production designer Dennis Gassner, Deakins built his lighting schemes into the sets to make them look like they are lit by practicals.

Deakins had an element of control over almost everything that appeared on screen . “There’s some things that you might not think were effect shots that are actually in camera,” said Deakins. “Everything was done first unit, and most of the film was shot single camera.” The black landscape seen flying into Sapper Morton’s farm was based on plates Deakins shot of the landscape in Iceland. The aerial shots of the cityscapes were done in Mexico City in exactly the right light.

There’s also the Deakins misconception that he created the bold colors of “Blade Runner 2049” in post. That rumor likely stems from becoming the first DP to fully digitally color-correct a film; on “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”,  he spent two months pulling the greens from the film. However, his switch to digital cinematography only made him more determined to everything in camera, without manipulating the image. For example, to create the now-famous red of Villeneuve’s Las Vegas, Deakins actually mixed different colored lights to perfect the scene.

“It’s not just red, it’s got two sets of colors – higher up in the interior, there’s a kind of yellower light percolating through and down where it’s more dusty and there’s less light, it’s more red,” said Deakins. “The way those lights combine, and the way the light flares through those windows and that gel, you can’t do it in post. It looks artificial. You might not be able to point to it and say, ‘Well, that’s what’s wrong about it,’ but there’s just something about it. It doesn’t feel right. It’s the same as any effects shot against something that’s been done in camera. It’s those little things reality has that you can’t create in a computer. I’m sorry, you just can’t. It’s as simple as that.”

For Deakins, the biggest change  with digital cinematography has been his reliance on the monitor and his DIT to see precisely what he is getting. From there, he tweaks his lights to get the color right. “With Denis especially, he’s so specific,” he said. “The reference photo for the silver winter light was his backyard in Montreal – it’s more fun to show the director and say, ‘Well, this is what I’m thinking,’ and work from there.’”

Deakins, who is known to spend Saturdays with his crew pre-lighting for Monday, relies on preparation to allow himself to be creative on set as the camera operator. With Deakins, who cut his teeth in documentary, the one piece of magic he can’t break down is his incredible sense of composition and ability to make every frame more dynamic. Even if his style changes to some degree from film to film, his eye for arresting images is distinctive.

Villeneuve and Deakins check the monitor on the "Blade Runner" set

Villeneuve and Deakins check the monitor on the “Blade Runner” set

Stephen Vaughan

Deakins has admitted before that, back in the 1990s, while he was still building his reputation, an Academy Award would have meant something to his career. Now, at age 68, his ability to consistently work on his own terms — the same tight-knit crew, operating the camera himself, and picking scripts from the few director-driven films with a mid-size budget — is its own reward. It’s a niche he’s well aware is practically extinct.

He also has perspective that while the industry puts a great deal of attention on Academy Awards, film history is another matter. Pointing to cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth’s groundbreaking work on the original “Blade Runner,” Deakins calls attention to how what he considers some of the greatest cinematography never even got nominated. “Well, you think Jordan deserved one?” Deakins asks rhetorically.

“It’s such a sort of particular [film that gets focused on],” said Deakins. “There’s so many films from around the world, I emphasize, that are so beautifully photographed, but they don’t get the recognition. Kazuo Miyagawa, who used to shoot for [director Akira] Kurosawa – I mean, hey, just go and look at any of the films he shot.”

And of course, over 50-60 years later, the films Miyagawa shot for Kurosawa (“Yojimbo,” “Rashomon”), along with his collaborations with Kenji Mizoguchi (“Ugetsu”), areheld in the pantheon of the greatest films ever made, regardless of awards. It’s a humbling group of filmmakers to think about, even for the great Deakins, but it keeps other’s preoccupation with his lack of Oscars in perspective.

Oscars 2018: Here Are the Cameras Used to Shoot The Films Nominated for Best Cinematography

Oscar nominated cinematographers on the gear they used to create the look of this year’s Best Cinematography contenders.

Every cinematographer knows that picking the right camera and lens doesn’t create the look of a movie. Yet understanding how these Oscar-nominated cinematographers determined the right tools for these five distinctive films reveals not only their intention, but also their approach and process.

While shooting on film stock continues to make a comeback, with “prestige” period films in particular, what’s interesting is among this year’s Best Cinematography nominees — four of which are period films, three set against the backdrop of World War II — only “Dunkirk” was shot on film, as director Christopher Nolan and DP Hoyte van Hoytema continue to pioneer the use of IMAX film cameras in traditional Hollywood filmmaking. The other four nominees relied on Arri’s Alexa cameras to capture looks as varied as the hot summer landscape of 1940s Mississippi to the wintery silver of Los Angeles 100 years afterward.

Here are the cinematographers behind 2018’s Best Cinematography nominees — “Blade Runner 2049,” “Darkest Hour,” “Dunkirk,” “Mudbound,” and “The Shape of Water” — talking about how they selected the right cameras and lenses.

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins

Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins on the set of "Blade Runner 2049"

Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins on the set of “Blade Runner 2049”

Stephen Vaughan

Camera: ARRI Alexa XT and Mini cameras
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes
Format: 3.4K Open Gate ARRI Raw

Deakins: I don’t think it’s the camera that creates the look. I think it’s the lighting, your choice of frames, and what you do with a camera. I want a camera that will give me the greatest range, the sharpest image, the most true color. It was the same with film. I never really messed around with film and changed film stocks. I never changed cameras. When we first [talked] about cameras and whether we’d shoot with the Alexa 65, [director] Denis [Villeneuve] said, ‘Well, I like the way ‘Sicario’ looked. Why don’t we just shoot spherical [lenses] and do the same?’ I said, ‘Fine by me.’ That’s kind of what I like. I don’t want a shallow focus that comes with the 65.

I don’t change lenses from project to project unless it’s something very, very specific like with [“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”], otherwise I just want the best tools I can find. The sharpest, the cleanest, the closest to what my eye sees. I’ve been using the Master Prime since they came out because they’re the fastest and cleanest lenses that I can find. Before that, I was using the Cookes because they’re wonderful lenses, but the Master Primes are just slightly faster and I like having that speed.

“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel

Bruno Delbonnel on the set of "Darkest Hour"

Bruno Delbonnel on the set of “Darkest Hour”

Jack English / Focus Features

Camera: Arri Alexa Alexa XT
Lens: Cooke S4
Format: ARRIRAW 3.4K

Delbonnel [to Deadline] “At the very beginning, we wanted to shoot with an Alexa 65 with medium format lenses, but you need so much light just to get enough depth of field that I convinced Joe that we should go with the regular Alexa, with Cooke lenses. Because then, I could work with not such a big amount of light. I like a very big depth of field, and I think the depth of field was interesting. In order to get enough depth of field, I couldn’t shoot with the 65.I like a very big depth of field, and I think the depth of field was interesting. In order to get enough depth of field, I couldn’t shoot with the 65.

“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema

Hoyte van Hoytema shooting "Dunkirk"

Hoyte van Hoytema shooting “Dunkirk”

Melinda Sue Gordon

Camera: IMAX MSM cameras and Panavision system 65 cameras
Lens: For the IMAX camera, we had custom-manufactured lenses by Dan Sasaki, who also designed Sphero lenses for the 65mm 5 perf camera system.
Format: 65mm 15 perf IMAX, 65mm 5 perf film

Hoytema: IMAX is the richest way to project reality on a light-sensitive surface. The amount of depth, detail, and color captured on an IMAX camera is still unbeaten; it feels honest and pure to me. From the path of the light reflected off the subject in front of the camera, all the way to the light reflected off the screen into the viewer’s eye, lacks digital interpretation and compression adding weight and endless information and clarity. It doesn’t only feel future proof, but also adds to the immediacy and intimacy of the storytelling. It’s part of my job to overcome the impracticalities of the format and to push the rental houses, camera and lens manufacturers to keep building new things to allow this format to become better. “Dunkirk” is effectively storytelling by action. The stress and constant relentless threat on our main characters required the most visceral way to tell this story I could think of.

“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison

Rachel Morrison

Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: C and D Series Panavision Anamorphic Lenses and P Vintage De-Tuned Spherical Lenses
Format: 3.4K Open Gate Arri Raw

Morrison: Both [director] Dee [Rees] and I would have LOVED to shoot film. But we were trying to pack an epic amount in an indie shooting schedule, and when it became a choice between celluloid or shooting days, we had to make a tough sacrifice. When it comes to digital, I have always found the Arri Alexa line to be the most natural with regard to skin tones and highlights. We shot Arri Raw Open Gate on the Mini with older glass and a filmic LUT. I rated the camera at 1280 ISO and added grain in post. It’s not the same as film, but we did feel like we managed a tactile quality reminiscent of some of the photography that was our inspiration. Plus, shooting digitally afforded us a working stop where I could actually light with double-wick candles and lanterns, something which I believe added authenticity to the period lighting.

“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Shape of Water: Guillermo del Toro, Dan Laustsen

Director Guillermo del Toro and DP Dan Laustsen on the set “The Shape of Water”

Kerry Hayes

Camera: Arri Alexa ST, Alexa Mini
Lens: Master Prime lenses
Format: Alexa XT Open Gate recording 3414×2198 ArriRaw 3.4K framed for 1.85 center extract. The 1.85 extraction resolution of the full gate digital negative was 3414×1846.

Laustsen: When Guillermo del Toro and I commenced our process on “Shape of Water” and talked about how to film his amazing script, it was important for us to tell the 1962 story in a modern yet classical style. It was paramount to us that the light should be a great part of the dramatic storytelling, with deep shadows and soft highlights; and that all the actors would be lit as pleasing and classically as possible. In order to achieve this, we needed to use a camera with the the best color reproduction and best exposure latitude. We chose the Alexa ST and Mini, and since we love sharp and contrasted images, we chose the Master Prime Lenses. This equipment really helped us in achieving the visual expression we strived for.