Dan Laustsen Interview: ‘The Shape of Water’ cinematographer
During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), “The Shape of Water” cinematographer Dan Laustsen reveals that director Guillermo del Toro “had a very strong feeling about the colors” for his new film. This Cold War era fantasy focuses on Eliza (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman working as a janitor in a research lab who falls in love with a giant fish man (Doug Jones). “We spent a lot of time finding the right colors,” adds the cameraman, “for the walls, for the wardrobe, so [that] everything blended in very precisely.”
Before production began, the director showed his team a wealth of visual material to spark their imaginations. “When Guillermo is making a movie, he’s making concept drawings,” reveals Laustsen, “and that’s a really good guideline for everybody.” For “The Shape of Water,” “We wanted to do a more green/blue-ish movie for [Eliza’s] world… and not break that until she’s falling in love with the fish man. So her world is steel blue, green, cyan, and the world around her is more normal color temperature lighting. But that’s changing as she’s falling in love with the fish guy” into “more golden key lights.”
Laustsen worked with del Toro on the director’s first American feature, “Mimic” (1997), and on “Crimson Peak” (2015). He recently reaped a Critics’ Choice nomination for his work on “The Shape of Water.” It was one of 14 Critics Choice bids the film received, including Best Picture, Best Director (del Toro), Best Actress (Hawkins), Best Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Best Original Screenplay (del Toro and Vanessa Taylor), and Best Score (Alexandre Desplat). It now competes at the Golden Globes in those same seven categories.