Avoid Yellow Snow

Meet the New Wave / Gareth Munden

Avoid Yellow Snow

Meet the New Wave / Gareth Munden

Filmography (so far):

My first feature Lotus Eaters (2011), directed by Alexandra McGuinness screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.


When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?

My father Alan was a keen amateur photographer. He introduced me to stills photography and set me on the road to a career as an adversting stills photographer.

Where did you train?

I was a stills assistant photographer for several years, and I leant to light and expose negative and also to print colour and black and white (which I still love). I did a one year course at the London Film School a few years ago which set me on the move to cinematography.

What are you favourite films?

The French Connection (1971) – director William Friedkin and DP Owen Roizman ASC set a beautiful and dark tone, which has been much copied.

Annie Hall (1977) – I’m in love with the collaboration between Woody Allen and Gordon Willis ASC, as they completely changed a genre. I also love Manhatten (1979) and Interiors (1978), which no one ever seem to watch.

Being There (1979) – a wonderful film in every way. The photography by Caleb Deschanel ASC is so beautifully simple.

Star Wars (1977) – (DP Gilbert Taylor BSC). What can I say. As a toddler it changed my life. There was a world before and after that film. It gave me something to spend my pocket money on.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

Frank Zappa told us not to “Eat the yellow snow”, and it’s kept me out of trouble so far.

Who are industry heroes?

Gordon Willis ASC for me is the master of modern cinematography. His simple and direct approach is always an inspiration to me.Harris Savides ASC, I guess, has taken the batton from Willis. I also love his commericals work, he has amazing beauty lighting too.Stanley Kubrick was a master craftsman. his films have such attention to detail and style, and The Shining (1980 – DP John Alcott BSC) must be one of the greatest horror movies of all times. Joe Dunton BSC MBE is a true legend of British filmmaking. His Xtal Xpress lenses are just amazing. I was lucky enough to use them under his guidance and support.

Have you won any awards?

I won many in my stills days and since moving into cinematography I’ve won a Kodak Commerical award for cinematography. It’s the only thing I’ve been entered into, so it’s 100% so far.

What’s you proudest moment?

La Citta nel cielo, my gradution film from the London Film School, being shown at the Vencie Film Festival.

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

Not getting called up for England in the last World Cup.

Tell us your best and worst moments on set?

They are one and the same. There was a scene in Lotus Eaters, a scene which was to be shot around some trees at night, at the end of an hedonistic party where an actor was to strip. It was something I’d thought about a lot, how to light this night exterior. While we were shooting an interior the Gaffer and Art Dept were outside setting up. My Gaffer appeared soaked from head to foot, the heavens had opened (we were in Ireland after all) The whole set was getting washed away. The only place that could be found to shoot was a barn that was full of crap, I mean full. In an hour Richard Hudson (Production Designer) and team had cleared and dressed the barn. Here I was with a brand new set up, one I had not even had five minutes to think about. I got the boys to string up some festoons on dimmers and that was it. It turned out to be the most beautiful scene in the film, the light was amazing, the scene looked great.

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

No names. But once talking about a producer less then kindly, only to see in a mirror that they were standing at my shoulder. Should have guessed by the fact that the person I was talking to had lost all the colour from their face.

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

Manchester United

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

Depron foam.

What’s the hardest shot/thing you’ve had to light/frame?

A Cold War submarine. I had the bright idea to shoot it on Anamorphic. What with the very low ceilings and Anamorphic format, there really was no where to put lamps. I had it in my head to rig 15” kino tubes as praticals. With the help of the Art Dept and my Gaffer (the legend that is Terry ‘Lou’ Lewis) they were put in place. It looked fantasic.

Tell us your hidden talent/party trick?

I make my own pasta. My Ricotta & Lemon Zest Ravioli are a dream.

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

Hard question. I’d say Alien (1979). It is a perfect film in terms of photography (DP Derek Vanlint), and shows you don’t have to be in the desert to use Anamorphic lenses.

"[Greatest extravagance]  I am a man of simple needs. Champagne."

- Gareth Munden

What are your current top albums?

I must say I only listern to Radio 5, which is a little sad ain’t it?

Can you tell us your greatest extravagance?

I am a man of simple needs. Champagne.

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

Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity.

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

Wearing the No. 7 shirt for Manchester United.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To keep getting better and produce images I can be proud of.