You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Trailer for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Entry

    Watch: Trailer for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Entry ‘Song Without a Name’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID — Peru’s La Vida Misma and Paris-based sales agent Luxbox have dropped the first trailer and poster of Melina Leon’s “Canción sin nombre” (“Song Without a Name”), selected this week for the Cannes Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight. Written by Leon and Michael J. White, “Song Without a Name” sums up some of ambitions and focus [...]

  • 'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set

    'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set for China Debuts

    Disney’s new live-action “Aladdin” will release in China on May 24, day-and-date with North America, giving the studio a run of three films in Chinese theaters as many months.  Two other Hollywood titles will also hit the big screen in the Middle Kingdom in the coming months: “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” on May 10 and the [...]

  • Patrimonio

    Film Review: 'Patrimonio'

    Though it never really went away on much of the globe, a sort of creeping feudalism is making such a striking comeback — with the ever-more-fabulously-rich squeezing the poor of every dime and resource — that Lisa F. Jackson and Sarah Teale’s documentary “Patrimonio” feels like a frightening portent. Will such crude appropriations of land [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Fan Bingbing Starts to Re-Emerge Months After Tax Scandal

    Half a year after she was found guilty of tax fraud and disappeared from the public eye, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing has begun to signal her comeback, attending a gala event and launching her own beauty product on social media this week. The 37-year-old actress unexpectedly hit the red carpet in Beijing on Monday at [...]

  • I Trapped the Devil

    Film Review: 'I Trapped the Devil'

    “I Trapped the Devil” sounds like the title of a sermon or gospel song, but it’s a very literal-minded statement coming from the mouth of a leading character in writer-director Josh Lobo’s debut feature. This being a horror film, there’s a chance he’s even literally correct, rather than simply mad. A mixed-bag frightfest, IFC’s limited [...]

  • American Factory

    Tribeca Film Review: 'American Factory'

    When the last truck rolled off the assembly line of the General Motors factory outside Dayton, Ohio, filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert were there to film it, documenting the end of a certain American dream, along with the unemployment of more than 2,000 people — down from 6,000 in more prosperous times. That was [...]

  • Sony Pictures logo

    Sony Pictures Profits Rise to $489 Million but Music Profits Tumble

    Profits at Sony Pictures rose to $489 million for the financial year running to the end of March 2019. That compares with $376 million in the previous financial year. The pictures division result was achieved despite a fall in revenue. That dropped from $9.13 billion in the preceding financial year to $8.87 billion in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content