During our recent webcam chat (watch below), cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema admitted that “Interstellar,” which was shot in 70mm IMAX, marks his most ambitious film work to date. “It’s wonderful to be able to design your work to play on the biggest canvas possible.” He quickly credits Christopher Nolan for giving him a chance to work on such a large-scale project. “Chris has always been a big supporter of the 70mm format. So it was just for me to educate myself and get familiar with the medium, because I had never shot IMAX before.”
Despite the fantastical nature of the story, which sees Matthew McConaughey traveling through space and time in a desperate attempt to save mankind, van Hoytema chose to employ a more realistic – or classical – approach to the visual style. “It’s really, really way out there,” he explains, “and we’re exploring worlds that we’ve never seen before, yet Chris had very much the feeling that he wanted to keep one foot in reality, so that we could also really easily identify with our heroes, and identify with what our heroes were going through, even though they were seeing things that were very much out there in another galaxy.”
After working primarily in Sweden, van Hoteyma has made just four English language films. He lensed Best Picture nominees “The Fighter” (2010) and “Her” (2013) and earned ASC and BAFTA bids for “Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy” (2010). With “Interstellar,” which boasts the bravura, effects-driven camerawork that the cinematographers branch embraces, he is likley to reap his first Oscar nomination. Indeed, van Hoytema has odds of 4/1 to win, just behind Emmanuel Lubeski, who won last year for the space-themed “Gravity,” and contends this year with “Birdman.”
After watching our interview below, in which van Hoytema also discusses the ongoing debate about film versus digital, be sure to make your predictions for Best Cinematography using our easy drag-and-drop menu.