Well, Well, Well...

Meet The New Wave / Richard Stoddard

Well, Well, Well...

Meet The New Wave / Richard Stoddard

Filmography (so far): features… Right Behind You  (2013), The Strike And Me  (2013), Just Jim  (2014), The Passing  (2014), Bliss  (2015) and Bees Make Honey  (2015). TV dramas… Becoming Human  (2011), Being Human  (2012), Hinterland  (2013), Uncle  (2013), Cara Fi  (2014) and Doctor Who  (2015).

When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?

I’d been operating for about 12 years. In 2011, whilst on a canoe trip, a line-producer friend, Cheryl Davies, asked if I was interested in shooting Becoming Human. I said ‘yes’ immediately and knew it would be a great way of seeing if I enjoyed being a DP. I spent the rest of the trip with a great big grin on my face.

Where did you train?

On the job. Being an operator first is a great position to be in. You have the unique opportunity to observe not only how a DP approaches a scene, but also how they run their department, engage with the director and cast, etc. I love operating as you’re right in the middle of the action and creating the scene from the ground up. Sometimes it’s quite magical.

What are you favourite films?

Sexy Beast (2000, dir. Jonathan Glazer, DP Ivan Bird) is a cracking film, solid story, well told. You empathise with Gary Dove the ex-professional gangster who's finally found what he's been looking for. Then Ben Kingsley’s character, Don, strides in with his sweaty shirt and threatens his whole Utopian lifestyle.

The Straight Story (1999, dir. David Lynch, DP Freddie Francis BSC) is beautiful in every way – the acting, composition and pace are all elegantly executed.

Fargo (1996, dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen, DP Roger Deakins OBE BSC ASC) – I love its beauty and brutality, all wrapped-up in a cinematic, comedic parcel of joy.

The Abyss (1989, dir. James Cameron, DP Mikael Salomon) is simply stunning and epic.

American Beauty (1999, dir. Sam Mendes, DP Conrad Hall ASC) for its use of cinematic language. You can see the visual language spinning the story along like a ringside boxing coach. Brilliant.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

I was clever enough to arrange work experience whilst at university with cinematographer Stuart Harris on a commercial. He expertly reminded the giddy, spotty and overly-enthusiastic student that this was the film business, and not just a hobby! His brother, Brian, who was operating, told me to just get out there and shoot as much as possible, that even a bad experience can be turned in to a good one. Or maybe he just said get out? I can’t remember.

"I was clever enough to arrange work experience whilst at university with cinematographer Stuart Harris on a commercial. He expertly reminded the giddy, spotty and overly-enthusiastic student that this was the film business, and not just a hobby!"

- Richard Stoddard

Who are your DP/industry heroes?

I hold the Coen Brothers up there. More importantly though, the DPs who have had a direct effect are: Erik Wilson, for his unashamed energy and enthusiasm; Mark Waters, for his serine, chilled-out approach; and Nic Lawson, for his encouragement and proof that good guys rule. Anyone who bullies or exploits their crew or collaborators doesn't deserve a place in this industry. To quote comedian Tim Minchin, "I will judge you by the way you treat the least powerful.”

Have you won any awards or received any nominations?

BAFTA Cymru, Photography & Lighting, for episode four of Hinterland season one. GBTC Award for Excellence, for the same episode. Doctor Who ‘Kroagnon’, Director of Photography Award 2016.

What’s your proudest moment?

Collecting the Welsh BAFTA and seeing the look on my wife and parent’s faces.

What’s been your best moment on set?

In The Passing, a girl releases a butterfly through the broken corner of a window frame. Something about it made me well-up in the viewfinder and it was all I could do to keep the handheld camera steady.

And your worst moment on set?

Whilst shooting Hinterland. I was shooting a family home video with a 5D as if I was the mother of a young girl. I realised the girl in the story would eventually grow up, leave home and then get murdered. I couldn't help but think of my own two daughters. I well-up in front of the director. I don’t think anyone else saw.

Lady in red... a powerful image from the award-winning episode of <em>Hinterland</em>
Lady in red... a powerful image from the award-winning episode of Hinterland

What was the biggest challenge on your latest production?

Lighting for 360-degree and whip pans!

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

Explaining to a ten-year old lead actor how a raw egg can withstand extreme pressure if you squeeze it in your hands length ways. He then tried it, smashed it and covered himself in raw egg. He was in costume.

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

My rock and pebbles: my wife and kids - Rebecca, Emily and Jessica. Mountain biking with my dog Archie in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, where we live.

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

My awesome ARRI 1 geared head, which I bought from legendary operator Jamie Harcourt.

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

When I was operating, it was in a morgue, where one of the doors had my name on it for ‘in vision legal reasons’! As a DP, it was at David Icke’s house.

Tell us your hidden talent/party trick?

Mimicking people and accents.

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

Fargo (1996, dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen, DP Roger Deakins OBE BSC ASC).

What are your current top albums?

Dreadzone Escapades, Pushy by Lemon Jelly, Take Me Beyond by Josefin Öhrn & The Liberation.

What’s the best thing about being a DP?

Finishing the day having been part of a team who together have created

something that didn't exist at the beginning of the day.

What’s the worst thing about being a DP?

The working hours spent away from my rock and pebbles.

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

Collaborative. Adventurous. Judicious.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To inspire the next generation. To fight for the causes of equality and accessibility. To shoot a bank heist movie, a road movie and a film in the snow!