The one and only thrill

Meet the New Wave / Chloe Thomson

The one and only thrill

Meet the New Wave / Chloe Thomson

Filmography (so far):

Volume (short 2012), Head Over Heels (Oscar-nonimated short 2012), Jonah (short 2013), Two Missing (short 2013), Field Study (short 2013).

 

When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?

When I was about 11, I joined The Children’s Film Unit, and completely fell in love with the camera department. It felt like the place where everything was happening. I was given an old SLR for my 16th birthday, and started seeing the world in pictures. The combination of my love of cinema, photography, travel, storytelling, and an inability to stick to a job that was the same every day, made cinematography seem like the perfect thing for me.

Where did you train?

I worked for a few years as a camera assistant on features, before studying cinematography at the NFTS.

What are your favourite films?

Days Of Heaven (1978, dir. Terrence Malick, DP Nestro Almendros) for its inspirational use of soft, magic hour, natural light. Paris, Texas (1984, dir Wim Wenders, DP Robby Müller) for its extraordinary, bold and filthy colour palette. Rust And Bone (2012, dir. Jacques Audiard, DP Stéphan Fontaine) for its textural composition and intensely visceral subjectivity. The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1966, dir Serio Leone, DP Tonino Delli Colli) got me into the scale of the cinema when I was growing up – I was in awe of those enormous close-ups of eyes and the gigantic landscapes. Pixar animations, particularly The Incredibles (2004, dir Brad Bird, DPs Andrew Jimenez, Patrick Lin, Janet Lucroy), make me very happy.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

From my tutors at the NFTS. Brian Tufano always reminded us to keep it simple, and to let our work be driven by the narrative. Stuart Harris often said that lighting was the easy bit, and that if in doubt, to go with your gut and allow yourself to be absorbed by the moment.

Who are your DP/industry heroes?

Seamus McGarvey BSC ASC for his passion, enthusiasm and generosity. For his wonderful use of camera movement and colour, and for the exquisite way he can light a face.Emmanuel Lubeski AMC ASC for his incredible use of natural light. Roger Deakins OBE BSC ASC for his naturalism and attention to the narrative.Wally Pfister ASC for his mastery of chiaroscuro lighting.

Have you won any awards or received any nominations?

Short films I’ve shot have been nominated at Cannes, Sundance and the Academy Awards, and have won numerous awards. Volume earned a BIFA for Best Short Film, and Head Over Heels got a Cartoon D’Or, amongst many other awards.

What’s you proudest moment?

Sitting in the nose-bleed seats at the Oscars, hearing Head Over Heels, the film I spent eight months shooting in a tiny studio, being announced for best short animation. It felt pretty surreal and wonderful.

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

So far, I’ve been lucky enough not to have been rejected from any job I really wanted to get. I’m sure there will be plenty of knock-backs in my career to come, though!

What have been your best/worst moments on set?

One of the best was walking barefoot along a white, sandy beach, taking a moment to check the stop, and realising that the paradise around me was my job. One of the worst was losing our very brilliant first AD to a family emergency in the middle of a complicated crowd scene we’d carefully prepped with him, and having to carry on regardless.

What was the biggest challenge on your latest production?

The combination of waders and unpredictable water levels. Needless to say, I got fairly drenched!

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

Constantly getting people’s names muddled.

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

Eating. Dancing. Music. Going to new places and looking upwards.

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

My eyes and, of course, my light meter.

Which films are you most proud of to date?

My two grad films, Volume and Head Over Heels, and Jonah.

"[greatest passion] Eating. Dancing. Music."

- Chloe Thomson

What have been your best/worst moments on set?

One of the best was walking barefoot along a white, sandy beach, taking a moment to check the stop, and realising that the paradise around me was my job. One of the worst was losing our very brilliant first AD to a family emergency in the middle of a complicated crowd scene we’d carefully prepped with him, and having to carry on regardless.

What was the biggest challenge on your latest production?

The combination of waders and unpredictable water levels. Needless to say, I got fairly drenched!

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

Constantly getting people’s names muddled.

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

Eating. Dancing. Music. Going to new places and looking upwards.

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

My eyes and, of course, my light meter.

Which films are you most proud of to date?

My two grad films, Volume and Head Over Heels, and Jonah.

What’s the best thing about being a DP?

Being part of a creative team, making something tangible that you can share with people, the variety, the challenges, the buzz you get when everything comes together, never knowing where it’s going to take you next.

What’s the worst thing about being a DP?

Never quite having enough time!

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

Passionate. Sensitive. Collaborative.

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

Maybe a cellist, or a travel writer.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I’d love to work on feature films that I’d want to see at the cinema – films with great stories, that affect, absorb and excite the audience.