Don Burgess Interview: ‘Wonder’ cinematographer
During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), cinematographer Don Burgess reveals he wanted to shoot the movie “Wonder” because the script “was just very heartfelt. It was something you felt you could really make something that would be quite interesting, and also perhaps get a message across to people about something that I think is very important.” Directed by Stephen Chbosky, this Lionsgate release centers on Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with facial deformities entering public school for the first time. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson co-star as his supporting parents.
“For me, when I read a script, sometimes how to shoot it comes right to me,” Burgess divulges, and that was the case with “Wonder.” Part of that came from his empathy with “the character itself, and how the character felt so isolated at the beginning and then connects with society. There’s a lot there to work with.” To convey that sense of loneliness, “I’ll tend to start with longer focal length lenses, and a shallower depth of field, and perhaps cooler light color temperatures, to put this character into the environment, but not totally connect him to the environment. So they feel more isolated from the people and things around them.” To chart Auggie’s progression from outsider to insider, “you can let the lenses get progressively wider, increase your depth of field, warm up the color temperatures, and give more of a connectivity to the subject and the environment.”
Burgess received an Oscar nomination for Robert Zemeckis‘ Best Picture winner “Forrest Gump” (1994). The DP also worked with the director on such films as “Contact” (1997), “What Lies Beneath” (2000), “Cast Away” (2000), “The Polar Express” (2004), “Flight” (2012), and “Allied” (2016). Other credits include “Spider-Man” (2002), “Enchanted” (2007), “42” (2013), and the upcoming “Aquaman.”