Interview with cinematographer Benjamin Leo Bryan

Benjamin Leo Bryan
  • What personality or character traits are necessary to excel in being a cinematographer/DP?

Patience is key. Also problem solving.

  • In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?

I really like Łukasz Żal . His work on Cold War was exceptional.

  • What makes good cinematography?

Always putting the story first.

  • What makes a good camera? And what has been your favorite camera to use?

A good camera is the one you have. I think Arri is the most user-friendly and produces the best image quality.

  • Do you think that cinematographer’s work has changed when movies went from film to digital?

Yes I think that the role of the cinematographer has been dumbed down a bit because digital is so accessible. The role isn’t any easier necessarily but it’s easier for everybody to have an opinion on the image because they can see the final product whereas that wasn’t so easy with film.

  • Now that people watch films on TV, computers and even their phones, do you think about that and experience when you are shooting?

Not really. I mean yes if you’re shooting for online and you’re thinking hmm maybe we should just shoot HD as opposed to 4k but that’s about it.

  • Which one is more important: light or shadow?

You can’t have one without the other. They’re both equally important. A lack of either is something you should be worried about.

  • What is the cinematographer’s involvement in pre-production, production and post-production?

As much as possible. As a cinematographer the more time you have to plan prior to the shoot the better. Also being involved in colour grading can be very important too. Depends how much you trust your colourist.

  • What involvement in the production budget does the cinematographer/DP have?

You don’t usually have much say in the production budget. Just choosing how to spend your allocation wisely.

  • What is your most valuable advice for being a Cinematographer/DP?

Don’t neglect the story. It’s very easy to get caught up in trying to make beautiful pictures but if they don’t tell the story then they’re useless.