Meet the New Wave / Nick Gillespie
Meet the New Wave / Nick Gillespie
Filmography (so far): The Virtues (2019), Liam Gallagher: Come Back To Me (2017), Editors: Formaldehyde (2013). Additional photography on: World On Fire (2019, TV series), In Fabric (2018, dir. Peter Strickland, DP Ari Wegner ACS), High-Rise (2015, dir. Ben Wheatley, DP Laurie Rose BSC), A Field In England (2013, dir. Shane Meadows, DP Laurie Rose BSC), Sightseers (2012, dir. Ben Wheatley, DP Laurie Rose BSC), plus directing second unit on Doctor Who (2014).
When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?
A family friend had an old VHS camera and I got to play with it when I was around twelve. We would shoot our own films in the house whilst editing in-camera. I’ve had the photography/filmmaking bug since then.
Where did you train?
Whilst at university I got a job as a camera operator at Manchester’s local TV. I then bagged a camera trainee gig on a drama, which lead up over the years to second AC and first AC. I loved assisting, but was always trying to shoot my own shorts and music videos alongside. It was all a great way to earn a living whilst learning more about photography and filmmaking.
What’s the best advice you were ever given, and from whom?
“No matter how slow or fast things appear to be moving, we should always try to enjoy life’s view along the way”. My mum says this. I’m not embarrassed by that, it’s good advice.
These are my favourite films in terms of cinematography and directing because of the way the camera tells the story. All of them have a rather unique enigmatic visual quality and mesmerising ambiguous stories which I love going back to and getting lost in again.
Who are your DP/industry heroes?
Laurie Rose BSC – I’ve worked all over with Laurie, starting as his first AC and on up to operator. Laurie has been a mentor to me. His cinematography work is also outstanding!
Ben Wheatley – I met Ben on BBC’s Ideal. I’ve always loved working with him, the quality stuff he makes, and the way he pushes on-screen boundaries.
Shane Meadows – also has a fantastic and unique way of storytelling, and I’ve always been a big fan. Filming with Shane is a brilliant experience.
What’s have been your best/worst moments on-set?
Best: I have many good memories. I did a macro shot of Liam Gallagher in front of a live crowd with a mirror-box lens I’d build from scratch. There was only time for one take. I showed Liam the lens rig briefly before he went on stage and explained how close I’d need to get to his face. He was totally cool, it all went well, and we got the shot.
Worst: I was enjoying one of the best feature film shoots I’d ever been on, when I slipped and went down wearing an Easy Rig with fully-loaded Red camera. I broke my ankle. The camera was fine but I was in a cast for six weeks and couldn’t finish the film. Gutted.
What was the biggest challenge on your latest production?
Time. There’s mostly never enough time. I do enjoy the fast-paced momentum though and you just have to remain calm throughout.
Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?
It’s not film related, but I once went to the wrong wedding. There were two churches with the same name in the same town. I was late, legged-it into the service and got halfway up the aisle before I realised I didn’t recognise anyone. I awkwardly stayed until the end then ran to the correct church where I arrived outside just as they were leaving. Nobody knew.
Away from work, what are your greatest passions?
Music. Cooking. Walking.
What one piece of kit could you not live without?
What’s weirdest place you’ve ever shot in?
Weird isn’t the perfect word, but I once went on a shoot to Kesennuma in Japan, a year after it was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It was like a post-apocalyptic world. We saw family belongings scattered and buried by the sand. The energy of the people rebuilding there was massively uplifting though. Japan in general is probably my favourite place to have visited.
What’s the hardest shot/thing you’ve had to light/frame?
Macro insects and animals take a lot of patience, but are great fun.
Tell us your hidden talent/party trick?
I can play guitar and a bit of piano. I’ve also had fire-breathing training, so I can technically do that too.
In the entire history of filmmaking, which film would you love to have shot?
Probably Saving Private Ryan (1998, dir. Steven Spielberg), although I don’t think I could have quite done what Janusz Kaminski ASC did with it, of course.
What music are you listening to currently?
New Order. James. Editors. Frightened Rabbit. Hans Zimmer.
Tell us your greatest extravagance?
Currently, during lockdown, it’s extra cheese on a supermarket pizza, at home on a Friday night, with my girlfriend.
What’s the best thing about being a DP?
Collaborating with a director and production team who understand what they’re making and how their cast and crew work. It’s impossible to do it on your own.
What’s the worst thing about being a DP?
Probably the opposites of the above, as well as intermittent clouds and sun.
Give us three adjectives that best describe you and your approach to cinematography?
Instinct. Patience. Improvisation (knowing when/when not to improvise!).
If you weren’t a DP, what job would you be doing now?
Way back when, I worked at a video rental shop and then moved up to working at a multiplex cinema where I got to watch free films. My film career has been downhill since then.
What are your aspirations for the future?
To continue working with people I admire and pushing myself outside my own visual comfort zones. It’s a tough time for us all at the moment with Covid-19, but I feel lucky to be safe and healthy. When we’re back up-and-running, I can’t wait to visit my family and see my friends and colleagues on-set again.