‘Meet the Experts’: Cinematographer James Laxton (‘Moonlight’) on creating ‘an immersive experience’ in ‘story we can all relate to’

Cinematographer James Laxton started his career working with director Barry Jenkins, shooting his debut feature, “Medicine for Melancholy” (2008), as well as several shorts. He and the filmmaker made a big splash this year with “Moonlight,” which tells “a story we can all relate to.” Laxton was part of a “Meet the Experts” panel presented by Gold Derby at the Landmark Theater in L.A. on November 22 to spotlight great achievements in crafts. During the chat with Tom O’Neil, he added, “We all in our lives find conflict,” and the film is about, “coming over those hurdles.”

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“Moonlight” concerns the coming-of-age of a young black man who struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood. “One of the main concepts behind the film visually,” Laxton reveals, “was the intention to make an incredibly immersive experience with a very kind of first-person perspective.” He delved into how he and Jenkins, through camera set-ups and lens choices, “created a very intimate experience.”

Laxton snagged his second Independent Spirit Award nomination this week for his work on “Moonlight” (his first bid came for “Medicine for Melancholy”). A rising star in the indie film world, some of his recent credits include “Bad Milo” (2013), “Camp X-Ray” (2014), and Kevin Smith‘s “Tusk” (2014). We will post a video soon of the entire conversation between Laxton and O’Neil.

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