Autumn Durald’s first big job was with photographer Melodie McDaniel and Harris Savides on the Levi’s (“Go Forth”) campaign, ads with a dreamy/funky black-and-white elegance. Her film work has been called “moodily sensuous,” and after the Telluride premiere of “Palo Alto” — the upcoming Gia Coppola-helmed adaptation of a James Franco short story (starring Franco) — Variety’s Peter Debruge agreed, giving a shout-out to the “gifted female d.p.” Her “striking Steadicam lensing,” he wrote, “buffers everything from harsh realism, allowing a slightly dreamlike quality into the proceedings.”
“That’s so funny,” says the 34-year-old AFI grad, “because I didn’t use any Steadicam. But I made it look like that. There’s feeling to this movie that Gia and I wanted in the visual language, very poetic. It has that smooth nature, and it all flows together. So I can see why he’d say that.”
Durald, who is continuing to do commercial work and will shoot a feature for director Andrew Droz Palermo this summer, says she finds inspiration in director-d.p. teams like Woody Allen and Gordon Willis in the ’70s and ’80s.
“I watch their films and there’s such a synergy — wonderful characters, together with wonderful camera work,” she explains. “Any job I approach, what’s important is having the cinematography work with the story so you feel something; you don’t feel like you’re watching a film. If I don’t believe it, if it doesn’t feel real, it’s hard to fake that.”
— John Anderson