Self Reflection

Meet the new wave / Polly Morgan

Self Reflection

Meet the new wave / Polly Morgan

Filmography (so far):

I’m shooting my first feature in January 2011, The Sinker, directed by Basel Owes.

When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?

When I was 13. A film crew came to the farm I grew up on to shoot a documentary about Edward Elgar, the famous composer, who once used to roam amongst the fields. They let me look through the eyepiece and ride in the crane. I fell in love straight away.

Where did you train? 

On set for nine years and then at AFI (The American Film Institute)

What are your favourite films?

Seven (DP Darius Khondji) – for its enthralling and unanticipated narrative and dark tone. A modern Blade Runner with its specific measure of atmosphere.

In The Mood For Love (cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan and Pin Bing Lee) – for its poetry.  So tactile and emotive.

The Conformist (DP Vittorio Storaro) – for its visual language.  I never tire of Storaro’s work.

The Goonies  (DP Nick McLean) – for its pure sense of fun and entertainment. Timeless.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

Anything is possible. Believe in yourself. And work hard. From my mother.

Who are your industry heroes?

Haris Zambarloukos BSC, as he was the first DP to help me with my dream of becoming a member of the camera department. Wally Pfister ASC – I am lucky to call Wally my mentor.  He is my inspiration. Always willing to help me and there when I have a question. Michael Goi ASC – I met him at the Maine Media workshops He wrote me a great reference that helped get a grant to pay for the AFI. He has been a friend for five years and is always there to give me advice. Roger Deakins BSCis a great British DP who has a varied style that fits whatever story he is telling.  I’m a great fan of Roger’s work, and share with him a love of the West Country, where I spent all my holidays as a child.

Have you won any awards?

ASC Rising Star. Royal Television Society Award for the film Reflections

What’s your proudest moment?

Headlining the AFI Cinematography Showcase with my 35mm film Reflections, was great, but I think my proudest moment was crossing the finish line at the London Marathon!

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

Not receiving the Fulbright Fellowship first time around which dashed my hopes of accepting my place at AFI.  It was a $40,000 grant, but I got it second time around!

Tell us your best and worst moments on set:

The best was operating for Wally Pfister ASC on a car commercial. The worst as cracking a huge antique window with a Maxi Brute and having to postpone shooting for five hours till it was made safe.

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

I was working on my first feature as a 2nd Assistant (clapper loader). When I went to mark the slate I caught the actors nose in the sticks. Ouch!

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

Travel, cooking, running and art.

"A film crew came to the farm I grew up on to shoot a documentary about Edward Elgar, the famous composer, who once used to roam amongst the fields. They let me look through the eyepiece and ride in the crane. I fell in love straight away."

- Polly Morgan

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

My light meter, of course!

Which films are you most proud of to date?

Reflection, Fallen.

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

The abandoned Linda Vista Hospital in downtown Los Angeles.  It was very creepy and definitely haunted.

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

A rape ccene in the short film Neighbours. It was very real and harrowing.

Tell us your hidden talent/party trick?

My fish pie. It’s the best you’ll ever taste!

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

Anything by Stanley Kubrick

What are your current top albums?

A Single Man – Soundtrack. The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection. Girl Talk “All Day”

Can you tell us your greatest extravagance?


What’s the best thing about being a DP?

The ability to be creative and imaginative, and to help tell stories.  To be part of a team and to work with inspiring, artistic people. Having constant diversity, challenges, and problem solving.

What’s the worst thing about being a DP?

Always fighting the clock!

What three adjectives best describe you and your approach to cinematography?

Passionate. Emotive. Experimental.

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

A chef or a photo-journalist.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To be the first woman to win the Oscar for cinematography. To shoot absorbing and affecting stories.

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