4 cinematographers debunk the biggest misconception about their craft

Cinematographers are among the most important people on a film or television set. After all, so much of the visuals rely on their interpretation of what the director wants and the execution of the overall artistic vision. But as cinematographer Tim Ives (“Halston”) says during the Gold Derby Meet the Experts: Cinematographers panel, there is a misconception about his job that needs some clearing up.

“I think people think I did it all myself that don’t really know this business,” he says. “Everything that’s put in front of the camera is done way before I get there. I contribute to it but I’m certainly not the only one who is putting this thing that looks great out there. It takes a whole crew of so many people to do it.”

Adds James Laxton (“The Underground Railroad”), “We get a lot of credit for other peoples’ work quite often. Costume department, production design department, all of the people that put wonderful things in front of our lenses. They do so much to hopefully make our lives easier than they need to be.”

“We have a role to play but a lot of credit needs to go to a lot of other people,” he explains.

Ives and Laxton were joined on the panel by fellow cinematographers Stuart Biddlecomb (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Richard Vialet (“P-Valley”), where they discussed what being a cinematographer really means to them — and what people just don’t understand about their work.

“One of the things that people always assume about cinematography is they always say, oh you’re the guy who holds the camera,” Vialet says. “There’s a lot more to it: not only are we technicians but we’re managers and we’re artists. I try to tell them — we take the director’s vision and adapt it visually and photographically. That’s something I’m always trying to correct, all the time. Sometimes I don’t even camera operate.”

Watch the exclusive video interview of the group panel above. Click on each name above to view the individual chat with each person.

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UPLOADED May 24, 2021 5:45 pm