James Laxton Q&A: ‘Moonlight’ cinematographer
“Moonlight” tells a very specific story of a boy growing up in poverty in Miami, but it’s “a story we can all relate to” according to cinematographer James Laxton. “We all in our lives find conflict,” and the film is about “coming over those hurdles.” Laxton was part of a “Meet the Experts” panel presented by Gold Derby at the Landmark Theater in L.A. on Nov. 22 to spotlight great achievements in crafts.
The film is a “very intimate experience,” following young Chiron (played by three actors across his childhood, adolescence and young adulthood) as he comes to terms with his homosexuality while also struggling under the care of a mother (Naomie Harris) addicted to drugs. “One of the main concepts behind the film visually,” Laxton explained, “was the intention to make an incredibly immersive experience with a very kind of first-person perspective,” which he and director Barry Jenkins achieved through camera setups and lens choices.
“Moonlight” has earned strong notices for its visual style, earning Laxton nominations for Best Cinematography from the Independent Spirit Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards, and he also won the cinematography award from the New York Film Critics Circle. Laxton also lensed Jenkins’s previous film, “Medicine for Melancholy” (2008), as well as “The Myth of the American Sleepover” (2010), “Bad Milo” (2013), “Camp X-Ray” (2014) and “Tusk” (2014), among others.