Antonio Calvache

10 Cinematographers to Watch

Back in the days when actor-turned-director Todd Field was studying at the American Film Institute, in a class that included helmer Darren Aronofsky and current hotshot d.p. Matthew Libatique, Antonio Calvache seemed to walk on water.

“They were all pie-eyed and in awe of Antonio,” Field recalls. “We had a lot of great cinematography teachers then. Connie Hall and Michael Chapman were guest lecturers; John Alonzo was our department head. And all those guys said, ‘Antonio Calvache is going to be the next great cinematographer.’ ”

Calvache is not a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, whose camaraderie often masks clashing egos and competing agendas. The softspoken Spaniard, who now lives in L.A.’s Silverlake neighborhood, doesn’t make a conscious attempt to glad-hand or network, nor does his style call attention to itself, which might account for his relative anonymity in below-the-line debates about who’s hot and who’s not. But his meticulous ability to milk the maximum amount of drama and meaning from a scene is undeniable.

Field’s moody directorial debut, “In the Bedroom” (2001), introduced a filmmaker who was fully formed, arriving at emotional truths with an economy and precision that is astounding. It’s now clear that Calvache’s lighting deserves some of the credit.

“Antonio has an exquisite eye in terms of the way light falls,” Field says. “He doesn’t gild anything, and there’s very little vanity in his work. You can walk into a room and say, ‘I like how this light feels,’ and you won’t feel a source (light) from him. The rooms don’t feel lit. That’s not just not lighting, that’s lighting and then subverting your lighting. And it’s a very hard thing to do.”

Fields’ recent “Little Children,” about infidelity and dashed hopes in upper middle class suburbia, presented its own set of challenges, especially in scenes where actors Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson were required to disrobe. Because only Field, the actors and a sound man were present, Calvache had to make adjustments between takes. “I need to be very quick, because that’s the reality,” Calvache says. “You don’t want to lose the freshness of the actors or get in the way of the performances. So I need to approach my work with that kind of humility.”

Freeze Frame
Favorite tool: Master Prime high-speed lenses. “They allow you to use the maximum amount of light.”
Preferred film stock: “I have a stock for day exteriors, day interiors, the magic hour, night exteriors and night interiors.”
Inspiration: Nestor Almendros, best known for Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” and his collaborations with Francois Truffaut. “His work is the most naturalistic of any d.p.,” says Calvache. “He would shoot with mostly natural light, and I pursued a look like that.”
What’s next: “I have three scripts, and I don’t know which one I’m going to do.”
Rep: Jonathan Silverman, Endeavor

More Film

  • Taika Waititi Returning to Direct 'Thor

    Taika Waititi to Direct Marvel's 'Thor 4'

    Taika Waititi is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The filmmaker will write and direct the sequel to his 2017 blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok.” Waititi’s take on the fourth “Thor” movie puts Warner Bros.’ long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely. However, the studio hopes that “Akira” can get resume production with Waititi at the helm once [...]

  • Akira

    'Akira' Production Put on Hold by Warner Bros.

    Warner Bros. has put its long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely, sources tell Variety. Sources indicate that after a brief delay, the studio has pulled the plug on production indefinitely for the classic anime adaptation, which was set to begin later this fall. “Thor: Ragnarok” helmer Taika Waititi was on board to direct, and the [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco Green Book

    Sebastian Maniscalco Moves Into Movies With 'Green Book' and 'The Irishman'

    As a comedian whose routines not only lampoon Italian stereotypes but demand larger-than-life performances of those cultural peccadilloes, Sebastian Maniscalco has carefully — if inadvertently — created a niche for himself as an actor. In 2018, in between selling out shows at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, he took his first steps [...]

  • Erin Westerman

    Lionsgate Promotes Erin Westerman to President of Motion Picture Production

    Lionsgate has promoted veteran executive Erin Westerman to the post of president of production of its Motion Picture Group. Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake and motion picture group president Nathan Kahane made the announcement Tuesday. The post has been vacant since earlier this year, when it was held as a co-presidency by Peter Kang [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco Celebrates 20 Years in Comedy

    Developing a rapport with hotel staff members is not uncommon for celebrities, especially those who travel frequently enough because of work or press opportunities to have multiple encounters with folks who carry their luggage, make up their rooms and serve them food. But when comedian Sebastian Maniscalco warmly greets the Four Seasons Los Angeles server [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content