There is no relationship more significant than that between the Director and the Cinematographer. The setup can bring a synergy to the project, ignite passion on set and bring a vision to life. Or it can completely demolish a production with egos, tension and conflicting vision.
These Director-Cinematographer duos have learned how to work together and create award-winning masterpieces by relying on a few simple principles that apply as well on a small production as they do in Hollywood.
Martin Scorsese and Rodrigo Prieto
After working on three consecutive films together, Martin Scorsese and Rodrigo Prieto have formed a special bond. Their work in Wolf of Wall Street, Silence and The Irishman has led to multiple Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, proving these two men have figured out the key to a successful working relationship.
When reading through endless positive quotes from both Scorsese and Prieto, one major theme stands out: respect. Mutual respect for each other’s talent, vision and roles on set has helped to create an ongoing and rewarding professional dynamic.
Prieto has said, “I really love interpreting his ideas and bringing his designs onto the screen.” This brief statement represents the heart of a true DP. Prieto understands that it is his job to bring the Director’s vision to life and feels no need to overstep his bounds and force his own vision onto the project. And he’s excited to do it because he believes in his director and his director believes in him.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Richardson
Quentin Tarantino is the household name, but he’s just one of the Hollywood giants in this duo. Richardson has an Oscar of his own for his work on JFK and he’s collaborated with other industry heavyweights like Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone. As a seasoned veteran, he could easily let his ego be front and center. Instead, Richardson has been quoted as saying “Quentin knows what he wants. He has the idea and then we accomplish that.”
Tarantino, in turn, has had to check his ego at the door and trust the experienced and technical eye to “one of the greatest cinematographers in the world.” In an interview with Indie Wire, Tarantino admitted that he had to surrender his extremely specific ideas and allow for alterations from Richardson. “It’s taken me a few movies with him to not fight him about, ‘Ok, it’s better for us to go this way, as opposed to that way,’” said Tarantino. “I get it now. I fought with him before about that s#%t.”
The talented pair have now collaborated on five films together, including 2019’s celebrated Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Their ability to communicate, trust and respect each other while bringing complicated and dynamic visual films to life has led to great success, including several Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, as well as the Cinematographer-Director Duo Award presented by Cameraimage.
What do these dynamic duos have in common?
These masters of cinema have been able to push their egos aside and find filmmaking partners who can bring out the very best in their work.
Choosing the best DP for your next music video, indie film, or marketing video comes down to these simple principles:
- Choose a DP who is excited by your vision and believes in your talent. Be sure your next DP is someone who trusts you and wants to elaborate on your creative vision, not mold the project into their own.
- Choose a DP you trust based on their previous work. Your DP should have the technical skills needed to achieve the look you have in your mind.
- Choose a DP who you can communicate with in an open and precise manner. Be sure it’s someone who will ask questions if they don’t understand and will speak to you with respect, especially on-set in front of talent and crew.
- And, perhaps most importantly, choose to work with a DP that you respect.
One tool makes choosing everything from a DP to a full video production crew a whole lot easier
If you are want to find a DP you can build an ongoing relationship with, Crew Connection is an excellent source. Every video production crew member on Crew Connection’s vetted database has been personally vetted by our crew coordinators and you can rest assured they have chops. From there, you can browse reels to find just the right match for your project.