With Lion now playing in limited release, I recently sat down with cinematographer Greig Fraser (who previously shot Zero Dark Thirty and Foxcatcher) for an extended video interview. During our wide-ranging conversation he talked about how his technique has changed moving from film to digital, using the Alexa 65, why he believes lenses are the most important part of shooting, discusses the approach to shooting India and Melbourne and the decision to give them a cohesive look, filming in the real-life locations from the true story, and so much more. In addition, with Fraser having also shot Rogue One, he talked about being influenced by Star Wars, but also trying to make something new with Rogue One, if the pressure ever got to him, and shared some behind the scenes stories.
If you aren’t familiar with Lion, it’s based on the true story of a young man named Saroo who became separated from his family in India at the age of five and was subsequently adopted by an Australian family. As a five-year-old, Saroo could not correctly explain where, exactly, he was from, and thus all hopes of finding his family were lost. As an adult, however, the advent of Google Earth provides Saroo with a unique opportunity, as he sets about finding his long lost family once and for all. The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, and Sunny Pawar.
Finally, while I knew the story of Lion before sitting down to watch it, the way Garth Davis told the story floored me and it’s a hell of a debut. I’m extremely confident Davis will be making a lot more movies in the coming years and I can’t wait to see them.
Here’s what we talked about during the interview. Look for some more Lion interviews soon.
- When did he know he wanted to be a cinematographer?
How has his technique changed moving from film to digital?
- Reveals that they shot film for some tests on Rogue One. Discusses the decision to use digital on Rogue One.
- Talks about using the Alexa 65.
- Why he believes lenses are the most important part.
- What camera and lenses did he use for Lion?
- Discusses the approach to shooting India and Melbourne, and the decision to give them a cohesive look.
- His working relationship with Garth Davis.
- Talks about the massive crowds watching them filming in India.
- Filming in the real-life locations from the true story.
- Does he storyboard?
- Talks about the varying styles of the directors he’s worked with.
- His experience on Rogue One. Says one of the first shoots they did was in Jordan, long before principal photography actually began.
- His trepidation to work on a Star Wars
- Talks about the impact of being influenced by Star Wars, but also trying to make something new with Rogue One.
- What will most surprise audiences about Rogue One?
- Did the pressure of making a Star Wars movie ever get to him?