So into it…

Meet The New Wave / Chris O'Driscoll


So into it…

Meet The New Wave / Chris O'Driscoll

Filmography (so far): The Pass  (2016), PostJump  (2015), Selfie  (2014), Last Tango In Croydon  (2012) and Balzan’s Contract  (2012).

When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?
Originally, I trained as a building surveyor, but after buying an old Nikon 35mm camera I realised I enjoyed taking pictures for survey reports far more than the report writing. I watched Amélie (2001, DP Bruno Delbonnel AFC ASC) and was immediately blown away. I had never seen anything like it: the colours, characters, music and the sheer beauty of it all was mesmerizing. The following morning I woke up, watched it again, and knew this was something I had to be part of.

Where did you train?
On the job – first at a TV camera rental company, then I learnt to load an SR3 at ARRI, and then went freelance as a trainee/clapper loader. Whilst working on a drama as a focus puller, a chance encounter led me to begin working with a photographer. I assisted on still life and portrait shoots for advertising, eventually leading to my own personal photography projects. It taught me to take a step back, think about how and what I wanted to achieve from the look and feel of a scene. That’s stayed with me ever since.

Your favourite films?
Amélie (2001, dir. Jean Pierre Jeunet/DP Bruno Delbonnel AFC ASC) – because that’s where it all began for me.

Sexy Beast (2001, dir. Jonathan Glazer/DP Ivan Bird) – amazing performances and beautifully shot.

Blade Runner (1982, dir. Ridley Scott/DP Jordan Cronenweth ASC) – such a brave and striking film, that still stands out today.

No Country For Old Men (2007, dirs. Joel & Ethan Cohen/DP Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC) – quite simply, it should have won the Oscar.

 The best advice you were ever given?
“That’s life- deal with it!” – a typically sharp, verbal slap around the face from my brother. And “Trust your instincts, your first idea is probably the right one” – not sure who said that, but it’s very true.

"I had never seen anything like Amélie : the colours, characters, music and the sheer beauty of it all was mesmerizing. The following morning I woke up, watched it again, and knew it was something I had to be part of."

- Chris O'Driscoll

Who are your DP/industry heroes?
Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC – is simply one of the all time greats. He has a style all of his own and he always puts the story first. Seems like a nice guy too.

Bradford Young ASC – delivers consistently great cinematography that makes me want to see what he will produce next.

Steve McCurry – his work is like a window into another world. It’s everything I aspired to when I first picked up a camera.

Saul Lieter – he used colour and the environment around him as tools to emphasise how he saw the world.

Your biggest knockback?
Being turned down to study at the NFTS. At the time I thought it was the only way forward and my last opportunity to progress in the industry. In reality it’s one of many. We all have to find our own path.

What have been your best/worst moments on-set?
when the scene requires co-ordination between my camera movement, lighting and the actors’ performances. It can be quite magical.

Worst: probably the time I spent working in 3D as a convergence puller. I have never worked so hard and yet been so unsatisfied with the result. Going back to one camera was a dream!

What was the biggest challenge on your latest production?
Shooting my first feature, The Pass, in ten days.

<em>The Pass</em> (2016)
The Pass (2016)

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas!
When I first started out, I was fresh off the train from Manchester and knew nobody remotely connected with any aspect of TV or film. A friend thought I should speak to film companies, like Warner Brothers. I found out they had offices in Soho and went and rang on the buzzer, asking a friendly receptionist “Is there anyone I can speak to, as I want to become a cameraman”. She held back her laughter and said I should probably try speaking to the studios. To which I enquired ‘Where are they?”.

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?
My family and photography.

What one piece of kit could you not live without?
The Artemis digital directors viewfinder app – so useful in pre-production and on-set. A close second is the Sun Seeker app – to know the angle and position of the sun throughout the day is invaluable.

What’s the hardest shot/thing you’ve had to light/frame?
The Pass was a stage play which we had to turn into a film and make it feel cinematic, whilst being confined to interior hotel room sets at night. The sets needed to be lit in a way that allowed us to shoot with two cameras in any direction and allow complete freedom of movement for the actors, whilst maintaining the look and feel for the film as a whole. The director, Ben A Williams, was specific about what he wanted to achieve and that helped me to keep pushing and find a way to make it work.


Tell us your hidden talent/party trick?
My wife tells me I cook a pretty decent Chinese

In the entire history of filmmaking, which film would you love to have shot?
Back To The Future (1985, dir Robert Zemeckis/DP Dean Cundey ASC)

I was too young to understand why, but this was the first film to have a real impact on me. The camera movement and the music all worked closely to elevate the story. I was hooked. It looks like it would have been a lot of fun to shoot!

Top current albums:
David Bowie’s greatest hits/Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid/Rag 'n' Bone Man –Human/DJ Shadow – Endtroducing.

What’s your greatest extravagance?
The watch I keep telling myself I am going to buy!

What’s the best thing about being a DP?
Planning a complicated set-up and seeing it all come together even better than you expected. In this job you get to work with some very talented people, and it also takes you into a world of places and people that you normally don’t get to see. Real privileges.

What’s the worst thing about being a DP?
Being away from my family. Trying to book a holiday.

Give us three adjectives that best describe you and your approach to cinematography.
Honest. Committed. Instinctive.

What are your aspirations for the future?
To continue working with talented and creative people who allow me to continue to push myself.

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