Meet the Experts: Cinematographers roundtable – ‘Halo,’ ‘Night Sky,’ ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Under the Banner of Heaven,’ ‘Welcome to Earth,’ ‘The Wonder Years’

When Amazon’s “Night Sky” cinematographer Ashley Connor was a teenager, her father showed her some classics. Not that he might like her telling people this particular anecdote.

 “I think my dad would tell me not to say, but we definitely watched ‘A Clockwork Orange’ when I was pretty young. And then ‘2001: A Space Odyessy.’ He sort of showed me a few kinds of bigger-brain movies that kind of blew my mind in my early teens,” Connor says during our Meet the Experts: Cinematographers roundtable group panel. “Those were the films that really kind of engaged my brain in a more photographic sense. And really, like, brought me into an artier space of filmmaking.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

Connor is one of six talented cinematographers who spoke to Gold Derby about their path to becoming filmmakers. Our Meet the Experts: Cinematographer panel also included participation from Karl-Walter Lindenlaub (the Paramount+ series “Halo”), Philip Lanyon (the Paramount+ show “Star Trek: Discovery”), Tobie Marier Robitaille (FX’s “Under the Banner of Heaven”), Brendan McGinty (NatGeo’s “Welcome to Earth”) and David Robert Jones (ABC’s “The Wonder Years”). Click each name above to watch that person’s individual video.

SEE over 200 interviews with 2022 Emmy contenders

“Both of my parents are still photographers and we sort of traveled the world,” McGinty, whose project is a nature docuseries that expands the scope of documentary photography. He studied filmmaking at school but he didn’t immediately realize cinematography was a realistic path. “It was all about the director and I imagined that director sort of did everything…I suddenly realized that there was this other role with the cameras, the lenses, the film stocks, all these things that I knew a lot about and that I loved. This role was one I was perfectly fitted to, but it was kind of accidental. I didn’t even know the role existed until I saw it.”

Being a cinematographer allows these artisans not just an opportunity to work with numerous departments as well as acclaimed actors, but be as creative as possible.

“It’s very enjoyable for me when I get to work on a project where you do some world-building, where you actually have to create things that don’t exist,” Lindenlaub says. “It’s that human experience. You have a group of people that tries to accomplish something that can only be done together. And it’s incredibly challenging…. That ability to make something bigger than yourself, and hopefully, for other people to enjoy it and take something with them. That’s an enormous privilege. I would say nobody gets to play with these big toys, so much money without a sure outcome. It’s always a huge gamble. Who does that?”

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