10 Cinematographers to Watch: Masanobu Takayanagi

Role model: Rodrigo Prieto. “I learned many important lessons from him — most importantly, to be a nice human being.”
Camera and film preferred: “On ‘The Grey,’ we tested several film stocks and processes and ended up choosing Kodak 5229 forced processed. We used Panavision XL2 and Platinum cameras.”
Favorite tool: “I don’t have any favorite equipment or tools. I like to adjust myself to each story and project.”
Representation: ICM

Masanobu Takayanagi’s decision to pursue his chosen profession tells a lot about a man who insists on getting things right. “My interest grew out of the mistakes I made the first time I took photographs as a 12-year-old,” he recalls. “I still remember my mistakes!”

Takayanagi, who emigrated from his native Japan about 16 years ago, photographed Nick Nolte’s Oscar-nominated turn in helmer Gavin O’Connor’ “Warrior,” and was director of photography on Joe Carnahan’s “The Grey,” produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, both known for a sharp eye for talented visual storytellers.

A student at Cal State Long Beach and at the American Film Institute, Takayanagi quickly earned plaudits from the American Society of Cinematographers, taking home the John F. Seitz Heritage Award for cinematography in a student film.

“As a cinematographer, my role is to be a visual storyteller,” Takayanagi says. “On ‘Warrior,’ Gavin was very specific about what he wanted to deliver emotionally in each scene. The performances of the cast were incredible, and I just tried to capture each moment with honesty.”

“The Grey” stars Liam Neeson in a harrowing tale of survival in the Alaskan wilderness.

“It’s a story about life and death,” says Takayanagi. “Joe and I had deep discussions about visualizing the emotion and the state of mind of characters in the extreme conditions. The severe conditions required passion and patience from the crew, but also helped achieve the right look.”

Among Takayanagi’s upcoming projects is “Silver Linings Playbook,” which stars Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence, directed by David O. Russell (“The Fighter”).

Trailer: “Warrior”

Return to 10 Cinematographers to Watch

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more