Roger Deakins on ‘Hail, Caesar!’, the Future of Digital Photography, and ‘Blade Runner 2’

     February 5, 2016


One of the best cinematographers in the world is Roger Deakins.  If you look over his amazing resume, you’ll see he’s shot so many memorable films, you’d be hard pressed to have not seen at least a few of them.  Some of the standouts include Sicario, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordNo Country for Old MenThe Big LebowskiThe Shawshank Redemption, PrisonersSkyfallFargoUnbroken, and True Grit. With Deakins having shot the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! I recently sat down with him for an extended video interview.


Image via Universal Pictures

During the interview Deakins talked about recapturing Hollywood’s Golden Age, the evolution of his relationship with the Coen Brothers, the future of digital photography, the prospect of shooting a movie on a phone, the hardest part of his job, advice for aspiring cinematographers, Blade Runner 2 (which shoots this summer), and so much more.

Hail, Caesar!, which is now in theaters, Josh Brolin stars as Eddie Mannix, an old-time Hollywood fixer who has a reputation for keeping actors’ scandals out of the press. But when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped and held for ransom by a group calling themselves “The Future”, Mannix is tasked with collecting the $100,000 demand and rescuing the star. It’s a classic Coen Brothers set-up and it gives them their first opportunity to delve into the madness of Hollywood since Barton Fink. Hail, Caesar! also stars Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, and Alden Ehrenreich. For more on the film read Matt’s review.

Roger Deakins Time Index:

  • hail-caesar-scarlett-johansson-josh-brolin-1

    Image via Universal Pictures

    1:01 – The joy and challenge of recapturing Hollywood’s Golden Age.

  • 1:35 – Memorable moments from filming.
  • 2:43 – Has his process changed much over his career? Talks about the evolution of his relationship with the Coen Brothers.
  • 3:28 – What’s the best camera he’s ever used? Talks about his love for the Alexa.
  • 4:38 – Talks about the prospect of shooting a movie on a phone.
  • 5:15 – The future of digital photography. Says he foresees animation and live-action merging and live-action moving to smaller budget films. Talks about his work on How to Train Your Dragon 2.
  • 6:20 – What genre is he dying to do? Says he wants to do a serious science-fiction film.
  • hail-caesar-channing-tatum-1

    Image via Universal Pictures

    7:07 – Reflects on what first got him into wanting to be a cinematographer.

  • 8:50 – What’s the hardest part of his job?
  • 9:53 – His advice for aspiring cinematographers.
  • 11:03 – Who are some of the artisans in his field that he admires?
  • 11:43 – Blade Runner 2 talk. Says will probably shoot in digital but no IMAX.
  • 12:26 – Shooting in mid-summer. He’s been working with Denis Villeneuve on and off for the last few months storyboarding.
  • 13:00 – The pressure of stepping into the Blade Runner universe. “It’s a film that will stand by itself. It’s 30 years on from the original, but we’re making a film that is its own film.”
  • 13:47 – Says the fan enthusiasm for his involvement in Blade Runner 2 makes him more nervous.
  • 14:30 – Hail, Caesar! deleted scenes. Says they rarely exist when working with the Coen Brothers.


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