Interview with cinematographer Christophe Anagnostopoulos

SHORT BIO OF THE CINEMATOGRAPHER:

Christophe Anagnostopoulos is an Award-Winning Filmmaker/Photographer based in Greece. His involvement with photography and filmmaking began at a young age, having as first incentives classical landscape photographs and experimental time-lapse/documentary films, without ceasing to experiment till this day, continuously evolving his techniques to follow modern day standards and needs. He studies in cinema and photography as also his technical knowledge background has made him an instructor in specialized workshops around the world and in private photography schools in Greece, as also a speaker in international photography exhibitions, while his commercial collaborations include well-known companies of the industry .His first personal experimental documentary film, “Keep Looking Up” (2017), was released in international film festivals around the world and won many prestigious awards, and his second film, the short non-narrative experimental documentary “Forest of Tranquility”(2019),despite being released during the pandemic quarantines in 2020 also managed to win many awards. This film was also chosen as the main topic of the annual High School Exams of June 2020 by the Ministry of Education of Greece. Christophe is currently working on his new experimental film projects which will be released in 2022 and 2023.


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

Working on the film industry, no matter if it is a big blockbuster production or a no-budget independent film, requires many abilities but the most important are patience and persistence. A lot of problems, often very serious, will appear during the production, and you will probably feel that these problems are pushing you to your limits. It is in that time that you must have trust in yourself and your abilities, pushing yourself even harder, in order to reach your goals. Personally during those times I find myself to be even more creative and productive, overcoming all my creative fears. 

  • In terms of cinematographers, who do you like?

I’m a big fan of the work of Hoyte Van Hoytema, Andrew Lesnie, Wally Pfister and Tom Lowe. I often watch again and again their work, studying the ways they approached each shot, and placing myself in their shoes for that specific scene. I then think how I would approach that scene and what mistakes I would possibly make. My goal after all is to further improve my work.

  • What makes good cinematography?

I believe that good cinematography is the ability to capture the scene as more natural as possible, while at the same time passing a secondary message through the scene, triggering the viewers feelings indirectly. It is important to always trying to find ways to make the shot look simpler at first glance, while on a second or third watch, to identify its complexity or difficulty, and what make this shot important.

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

A good camera is the camera that you have in your hands. All cameras of the last decade are technically very good, they only differ in certain aspects. A great camera is the one that you are most familiar with, meaning that you could change your settings without having to look at the buttons. This great camera should also cover your basic needs for the specific shooting scenario. For “Into The Mountains” my camera of choice was a Nikon Z 7ii, actually two of them. It is one of my favorite cameras due to its outstanding image quality, the high dynamic range and of course the ability to shoot in 8k.

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

In the technical aspect I could say in a way yes, as with the improvements in technology it is now easier for more people to try making a film, fulfilling their dreams and their passion. But technology alone will not create the film, it is not that simple. It is not like just press the button and technology will do wonders automatically. In order to be a cinematographer, you must study and constantly try improving further your knowledge. You have to be able to understand light, and how light will be recorded on your camera, either analog or digital. Personally, and although I currently shoot in digital format, I prefer the feeling of analog/film, with all its little imperfections, and this is the reason I chose to edit “Into The Mountains” by this way. We live in a very beautiful real world, it doesn’t have to look so sharp and clinical as most of today’s film are presenting it.

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

To provide the best possible experience to the viewers, yes you have to think about the medium that most people will watch your film. Most times this adds another level of difficulty during the shooting as also the editing part. However, the vision of the cinematographer and the director should always come first. It would not be wise to change the approach of a scene just to please the viewers. In example, there was a specific scene of “Into The Mountains” that shows the moon rising behind the majestic Astraka Towers. That scene was meant to be seen in a big screen and not in a smartphone, so the viewer to be able to understand the size of the scenery and all its beauty.

  • Which one is more important: light or shadow?

Both are equally important, but without light there can be no shadows. Light creates the scene, while shadows create the mood. To be able to manipulate and control the available light in the natural scenery is something that requires not only the necessary tools, but also knowledge of how the light will affect your scene. It is also very important to have a clear vision on what you what to achieve, and especially in time lapse filming, you have to be able to foresee how the light will change in one or two hours later.

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

In my opinion, when a film is being created, all key staff must work together from day one so to have the best possible result. The role of the cinematographer is very crucial even in pre-production, because from my experience preparation is the key to a successful filming part. But his role is also important during post production, as he can provide valuable feedback to the editor.

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

Especially in low-budget independent films his involvement is very important, as he is responsible for arranging the required gear that the production will need. Cameras, lenses and filters can heavily decrease the overall production budget. And if no budget is available for specific gear, he has to be able to think out of the box, providing alternatives.

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

Always have your eyes and your mind ready to see beyond the scene. Many times, the shooting scenario will change on the fly, and you must adapt to these changes very quickly. And no matter how confused sometimes you may be, never give up.