Watch the BSC’s retrospective with Fabian Wagner ASC BSC

May 4, 2021

The BSC recently held a retrospective with Fabian Wagner ASC BSC. You can view the discussion between Fabian and fellow DP Eben Bolter BSC via the link below.

Fabian Wagner was born in Munich, Germany. He started shooting short films early on and began working in the film industry when he finished school. With his dad being an artist and his encouragement to always take pictures, Fabian knew he wanted to become a cinematographer early on.

For a year he did numerous jobs in various departments, trying to get a good insight into it all which he considered essential and important knowledge. On weekends and in his spare time he would continue to shoot his own material, trying to learn as much as possible about cinematography and framing.

After doing a diploma in Denmark and a couple of years at the film school in England he started shooting music videos, small commercials and eventually 2nd unit on TV dramas. His first job as the main cinematographer was a 10 episode spin off of the established BBC1 show Spooks. After that, he quickly established himself as a cinematographer in the UK shooting many well known prime time dramas.

This was a great and vital time for him, working with many different and established directors, crew and producers. It also taught him a great deal about shooting for TV, the time restrictions and shooting with multiple cameras. It was not only a fun time but also very fruitful in many aspects. He also met his focus puller Jamie Phillips, a long-time collaborator and great friend, and established relationships with directors, producers and other crew members that have lasted to this day.

Some of the work he is most proud of was shot back then, works for writer Jimmy McGovern and director David Blair. Fabian worked with some of the finest actors on dramas like The Accused and The Street and his love and admiration for actors and improvisation and a natural and intuitive camera really manifested itself then.

With the second season of Sherlock came a more international success and also his first Emmy nomination. His work now took him overseas and he spent a couple of years shooting TV pilots in the US and Canada. Around that time Fabian was also invited to join the British Society of Cinematographers, a dream he had always had. At 34 he became one of the society’s youngest members.

Fabian shot his first studio picture Victor Frankenstein for 20th Century Fox and director Paul McGuigan. He also joined Game of Thrones for its fourth season. His work on that garnered him a second Emmy nomination and he established himself as one of the shows main cinematographers, shooting some of the biggest and most celebrated episodes of the show. “Battle of the Bastards’  earned him the prestigious ASC award and an invitation to join the American Society of Cinematographers.

In-between Thrones he kept himself busy shooting various projects, for TV and movies. The success of Game of Thrones put him on the map for another studio picture, Justice League for Warner Brothers and director Zack Snyder. He then shot two episodes of The Crown for director and long-time friend Sam Donovan.

The pair had met at film school 15 years ago where Fabian shot all of Sam’s short films and had wanted to work together ever since. This was a great opportunity to reunite.

2019 became a very emotional year for Fabian, with first his mother passing away and shortly after his daughter being born. Due to this Fabian took most of the year off, spending time with family. He’s been shooting commercials in-between and is looking forward to getting his teeth into a script again. For the past 10 years Fabian has always been very active in helping and supporting young filmmakers and cinematographers. He is a mentor for BAFTA and the ASC and also takes on many trainees privately as well as getting involved in talks and masterclasses all over the world. Helping future generations of filmmakers has become one of his biggest passions.

The conversation was recorded live on Wednesday 28 March 2021 with guest host Eben Bolter BSC.

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