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Thread: Roger Deakins

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    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    World of Roger Deakins, cinematographer
    The Coen brothers' 'third collaborator' talks to Jessica Salter about meeting his wife, living between Torquay and LA and working with Richard Burton in 1984.
    By Jessica Salter

    Roger Deakins, 62, has worked as a cinematographer (�the person who runs the set when the director is not shooting�) on films including The Shawshank Redemption, 1984 and Jarhead as well as 11 movies with the Coen brothers � Joel Coen has described him as their �third collaborator�. Deakins has won three Baftas, including best cinematography this year for True Grit, out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday. In February the American Society of Cinematographers honoured him with a lifetime achievement award. He lives in Los Angeles and Torquay with his wife, James.

    Daily routine There is no routine when you�re shooting; that�s why I love the film business. On set you can work 12-18-hour days, sometimes more. You do that for a few months and then you stop and rest � it�s only at the end of a film that I feel tired. But when I�m here in Devon my day starts with running with James along the cliff path, or going out on my boat. We go to bed later here than in LA, where we go to sleep about 8pm because we get up at 5am.

    LA The first time I went to America I was shooting a promo for Marvin Gaye for his song Sexual Healing (1982). We were meant to shoot it in London but I think his grandmother was ill so they had to do it in LA. Then I went back there to shoot Alex Cox�s film Sid and Nancy (1986) and after that I stayed for a few months and travelled around. A few years later I met the Coen brothers, shot Barton Fink (1991) and decided to move to LA. I�ve lived there for about 21 years now and try to come back to Torquay for a couple of months a year.

    Tides My father had a tiny sailboat, then he got a little motor boat and that�s what I�ve got now. I know this shoreline so well and it gives me a connection to growing up. My mum died when I was very young, so it was just me, my dad and my brother. Luckily we all liked fishing. The best fishing happens before the best spring tides, so the tides book is important to me. I�ve done some fishing in America, but it�s mainly a hobby for when I�m here.

    Photography My childhood ambition was never to leave Torquay, but there was nothing that I wanted to do for a job here. I thought I�d go to art college and figure out what to do from there. While I was there I discovered stills photography, which I still love � whenever I�m back here I try to spend time taking photos with my Leica camera (pictured). My photographs led to documentary-making and after about six or seven years of that, including the civil war in Rhodesia, I was asked to shoot people�s feature films. I�ve always been a film nut � it was the only thing that could tear me away from Devon.

    Family portrait My dad found some old negatives in a box years ago. We printed them up and one was this portrait (pictured) that my grandfather took of his brother and a lady friend in Torquay. I don�t know the date but I love it because it�s an absolutely fantastic composition: it was very unusual for someone who was not a professional photographer to cut somebody off at the knees.

    Richard Burton I have this poster of the film 1984 (pictured), which came out in 1984, framed because I have happy memories of that movie. It was about the third or fourth feature film I shot but it was the first one with that size set and with that sort of cast: I will always remember working with John Hurt and Richard Burton. Richard was lovely. On the first day he called the whole crew over to his trailer and said, �I just want to thank you for one of the nicest day�s filming I�ve ever had. When I came on set first thing this morning and saw all these young faces I was absolutely terrified, but it�s been the most wonderful day.�

    Old friends If I�m in New York or London I always make time to go around the galleries: in London the National and National Portrait galleries are a must. I have specific paintings that I have to see � in New York it is an Edvard Munch called Vampire. I don�t know why some things affect you, but these paintings do. They�re like old friends I go to visit.

    Life change I met James soon after I moved to LA. I had just bought a house in Santa Monica and two days later I went to shoot David Mamet�s film Homicide (1991) where James was the script supervisor. We started seeing each other after the movie and got married about six months later. So within a year I moved to LA, bought a house and got married; it was pretty cool.

    Rescue birds Growing up, we used to live in the middle of a pigeon flight path � people used to race them from France to the Midlands, and if there was a gale or something some of them would get lost. My brother and I would catch them and contact the owners, but they never wanted them back because they weren�t good for racing after that. So we had about 20 pigeons in our garden, until a fox got in one day and took the lot.

    Record player I know it�s old-fashioned but I�ve still got a record player (pictured) and all my old records. I�d hate to throw them away. I grew up listening to Van Morrison and Woody Guthrie, people like that. I�m not very good with gadgets; I�m terrible on the computer and we don�t even have a DVD player here. Cameras I�m good with, but with everything else, if I don�t care about it I can�t really be bothered.

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    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7 View Post
    World of Roger Deakins, cinematographer

    Roger Deakins, 62, has worked as a cinematographer (�the person who runs the set when the director is not shooting�) on films including The Shawshank Redemption, 1984 and Jarhead as well as 11 movies with the Coen brothers � Joel Coen has described him as their �third collaborator�. Deakins has won three Baftas, including best cinematography this year for True Grit, out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday. In February the American Society of Cinematographers honoured him with a lifetime achievement award.
    Thanks for starting a thread on the great Roger Deakins. Deakins is cool in the very best sense of the word. Although he's one of the finest cinematographers going, he has no pretensions and little or no obvious vanity. His tall figure lopes into a room in a shirt, jeans, and boots and he sits down to talk easily about film.

    The Billy Wilder Theatre in Beverly Hills hosts an occasional series called "The Movie that Inspired Me." On Deakins' night, he chose Jean-Pierre Melville's superb film "Army of Shadows" (L'Armee des Ombres,1969).

    In a witty, enlightening Q&A, Deakins talked about the impact that seeing Army of Shadows had on him early on and how impressed he was with the camera work in the black and white film and the issues in the film.

    When asked about the films he shoots, he said that he chooses films to work on based on their script, then the director, and last the actors. He looks for issues and ethical questions that drive the film's plot. He was gratified to work with the Coen Bros. on six films "primarily because they are interested in similar issues."

    Barbara

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    His wife's called James?

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    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pelam123 View Post
    His wife's called James?
    I wondered about that too. It's the first time I've heard of James being used as a woman's name. I had a look and here they are, nice couple:


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    Quote from Wikipedia "Deakins married script supervisor Isabella James Purefoy Ellis, professionally known as James Ellis, on 11 December 1991" I suspect in the early days it was easier to get her foot in the door for jobs if they thought she wasn't a woman! ;-)

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