Visceral Artist

Meet the New Wave / Ann Evelin Lawford

Ann Evelin Lawford on a recce in Mexico. Photo credit- dir. Adriaan Louw

Visceral Artist

Meet the New Wave / Ann Evelin Lawford

Header image: Ann Evelin Lawford on a recce in Mexico. Photo credit - dir. Adriaan Louw

Filmography (so far):

100 Vaginas (2019, C4), Changeling (2019), Innozenz (2017), Night Light (2017), I’ll Probably Never See You Again (2017), The Silent Man (2016), A Street Cat Named Bob (2016, second unit DP)

Where did you train?

I didn't go to film school. I did a first class BA (Hons) at the Cambridge School Of Art after finishing secondary school back home in The Netherlands. I then worked as camera trainee and clapper/loader for a few years.

What are your favorite films, and why?

I love films which allow you to delve deeper into the unconscious mind, to explore difficult terrain of emotional stresses and complexity of the human condition, human behaviour, and the dark places of the psyche. Films like:

Under The Skin (2013, dir. Jonathan Glazer, DP Dan Landin)
Suspiria (2018, dir. Luca Guadagnino, DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom)
Unsane (2018, dir/DP Steven Soderbergh)
The Master (2012, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, DP Mihai Malaimare Jr.)
Antichrist (2009, dir. Lars von Trier, DP Anthony Dod Mantle DFF BSC ASC)
The Shining (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick, DP John Alcott BSC)

And… the works of Béla Tarr, Andrei Tarkovsky and David Lynch.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

Be kind to yourself, and others.

Shooting a commercial in Tobago - dir. Thomas Bryant, DP Ann Evelin Lawford and focus puller Tommy McMahon. Photo credit: Hayley Williams
Shooting a commercial in Tobago - dir. Thomas Bryant, DP Ann Evelin Lawford and focus puller Tommy McMahon. Photo credit: Hayley Williams

Who are your DP/industry heroes?

Tim Sidell – a true artist.

Angus Hudson BSC – the kindest soul, mentor, supporter and fighter for equality and better treatment and conditions for cinematographers.

And the women, a mere 5.66% of current full accredited members, who are paving the way for future generations to follow in their footsteps, and are changing the landscape of the British Society Of Cinematographers. Cinders Forshaw BSC, Kate Reid BSC, Maja Zamojda BSC, Polly Morgan ASC BSC, Suzie Lavelle ISC BSC and Ula Pontikos BSC.

Have you won any awards or received any nominations?

Innozenz received a nomination for the BSC Emerging Cinematographer Award in 2018. I’ll Probably Never See You Again won the Cinematography Carbon Award at Frēsh 18.

What’s your proudest moment?

Getting onto a long-haul flight to Tobago for a commercial, after having avoided flying for five years due to my fear of flying. And now, having overcome this fear, being able to fly without medication. It has literally and theoretially opened the world for me. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

What’s the worst knock-back/rejection you ever had?

Not getting the feature I really would have loved to shoot as my debut, despite the director feeling a genuine connection to me and my work. The cinematographer they chose already had two features under his belt.

What have been your best/worst moments on-set?

Best: they have something to do with the physical and visceral, being in the moment, feeling alive, and this means being outdoors mostly. One of these moments was in Tobago, when I was handheld on the front of a bumpy catamaran speeding into dusk, with the director and focus puller holding onto me so I wouldn’t fall off. And when we were recceing in Mexico at these vast pink lakes and got caught in intensely heavy rain, thunder and lightning storm. Both so scary and visceral, and pure euphoria at the same time!

Worst: during the shoot in Tobago, when my TMJ (jaw disorder) got so bad that my jaw and neck were in such severe pain that I could barely function, let alone hold a camera. I couldn’t open my jaw and had some severe migraines. I made it through to the end on heavy painkillers the client gave me, and the agency producer turned out to be a kinesiologist!

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

Only realising there was no spigot on top of the Easyrig, when the camera suddenly slid off, heading rapidly for the ground. Followed by sighs of relief and nervous laughter from crew, as I managed to catch it just in time.

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

Progressing as an artist, which currently is in the form of photography. Being closer to, and in, nature. Horticulture. Yoga. Activism. Feminism. Environmentalism. Animal welfare. Mental health. I am passionate about conversing on the way the industry is exposing and discussing issues still considered as taboo. I like to cut through the red tapes with sensitivity and sensibility, and shed light on unspoken predicaments, perpetuated through complex and perhaps invisible societal and political webs.

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

My eyes.

Which films are you most proud of to date?

Taboo-busting 100 Vaginas, directed by Jenny Ash! It’s unfortunately very rare I get to shoot a project which is of such great importance, carries such depth, intelligence, has so much meaning, and has the power to create change. And Jenny is an awesome director to work with – she celebrates the eye of the cinematographer, understands we appreciate artistic freedom, trust, and isn’t afraid to take risks. She’s got ovaries!

<em>100 Vaginas</em> (2019)
100 Vaginas (2019)

"When we were recceing in Mexico at these vast pink lakes we got caught in intensely heavy rain, thunder and lightning storm. Both so scary and visceral, and pure euphoria at the same time!"

- Ann Evelin Lawford

What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever shot in?

A slaughterhouse. The smell alone I will never forget.

Tell us your hidden talent/party trick?

Staying sober, and I’m the best at giving proper, squeezy hugs!

In the entire history of filmmaking, which film would you love to have shot?

Antichrist (2009, dir. Lars von Trier)

What are your current top albums?

Cigarettes After Sex – ‘I.’, Darkside ‘Psychic’, and William Basinksi ‘Selva Oscura’.

Can you tell us your greatest extravagance?

I don’t have any extravagances, I’m Dutch! Though I must admit I can’t resist cuddling each dog that crosses my path.

What’s the best thing about being a DP?

Freedom. Traveling the world, and finding yourself in breathtaking landscapes and environments. New smells, new feelings. Being out of your comfort zone, often extremely far out, grow and push through. Getting to know yourself. Meeting and coming across people and their stories you would never discover otherwise. Creating a better, wider and richer understanding of the human existence, and the world. My team! Hugs. Creating a family around me, one I never had.

What’s the worst thing about being a DP?

Too many chefs in the kitchen; art is not a democratic medium. The little control and trust a cinematographer has, and is given for her/his craft is not what it should be.

Give us three adjectives that best describe you and your approach to cinematography?

Authentic. Visceral. Artistic.

If you weren’t a DP, what job would you be doing now?

Artist, athlete, architect, president, conservationist, contemporary dancer...

What are your aspirations for the future?

In the short term I would like to get my teeth stuck into some visionary features and dramas. In the long term, I would love to have established a fruitful career as an artist, in whatever shape or form that may take…