10 Cinematographers to Watch 2013: Mattias Montero

Mattias Montero, whose second feature credit as a director of photography was Lasse Hallstrom’s “The Hypnotist,” admits that he wasn’t a film aficionado growing up. He preferred musicvideos.

“I started doing musicvideos when I was 19 years old,” he says. “Then 14 videos or so later, you learn. I moved on to commercials and the next, natural step after that was to make movies.”

Montero recently spent a year and a half shooting his first two features: “Faro” for Swedish director Fredrik Edfeldt and “The Hypnotist.”

“Now that I’ve worked with Lasse, all I want to do is make great movies.”

In Hallstrom’s “The Hypnotist,” based on the international best-seller by Lars Kepler and Sweden’s 2012 foreign language film Oscar submission, Montero’s vertiginous high-angle shots succeed in creating the thriller’s unsettling, dark world.

“Lasse and I always had a very open dialogue about the shoot,” Montero says. “He gave me a lot of space to create images to tell the story. I wouldn’t say that I used any new techniques on this film, but what I tried to do is not always be on a face when a character was talking and instead find a little bit of poetry (within the scene).”

With more than 100 commercials including ads for Nike, Dell, Toyota and AT&T under his belt, Montero, 34, has accumulated three ROY Stockholm Awards as well as the 2012 British Golden Arrow cinematography kudo for his work in the genre.

“Whether it’s a commercial, a musicvideo or a film, everything comes down to: ‘What’s the story we are telling?’ Once you know what that story is you can start to make choices — dark or bright? Hand-held or tracking? etc.”

“Faro,” the second feature from Edfeldt (“The Girl”) due for release in the spring, is about a man who flees into the forest with his daughter to escape a prison sentence.

Says Montero: “I fall in love with cinematography more and more the more I continue to do it.”

Favorite tool: “Natural light.”

Inspiration: Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.

Representation: North America, the Skouras Agency; Europe, Artofficial Agency

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