Anthony Dod Mantle, the d.p. on “Slumdog Millionaire,” did his own extensive prep prior to shooting the at times magical-realistic film, directed by Danny Boyle, about a child who grows up in the teeming slums of Mumbai and winds up winning a fortune on a popular quizshow. Mantle spent months learning to navigate the narrow streets and alleyways of India’s largest city.
The planning proved invaluable once shooting started. “This was not a conventional piece of cinematography, not one where I was able to start a shot and complete it and orchestrate it,” he says. “I had to work my pants off shooting in the slums, with the unforeseeable rampant running.”
Because of the need to move lightning fast, Mantle relied on a custom-made, handheld digital camera with a minilens that was attached by cable to a rugged notebook computer in a knapsack. When it threatened to overheat, dry ice was used to cool it down.
“I’ve done some odd things, but this was the oddest,” he says. “It was unknown territory and unknown technology, which was exciting.”
Boyle’s enthusiastic response to the digital footage upended the original intention to use film for 75% of the shoot, winding up with a ratio of 60% digital and 40% film stock.
Mantle has already won honors for his color-
infused photography. In the midst of a recent interview, the d.p. received a call from Poland’s CamerImage Festival, informing him he had won the Golden Frog, the most prestigious international award for cinematographers, for his work on “Slumdog.”
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Cameras: Custom-made digital using SI-2K mini camera head; 30-year-old Arriflex
Secret weapon: “Trusting my intuition.”
Aesthetic: “Believing in the value and vibrance of those little children.”