With a great eye for landscapes that perfectly underscore the human drama being played out in the foreground, German cinematographer Sebastian Edschmid has quickly become a favorite of such German directors as Hermine Huntgeburth, “six films together”; and Ed Herzog, “three projects,” including ’06’s “Twisted Sister.”

But the Frankfurt-born d.p.’s reputation has spread far beyond German borders, even though he shot his latest film, “The Last Station,” for American writer-director Michael Hoffman (“Restoration”) with “a huge patchwork” of various German locations subbing for Russia. The drama, starring Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as his wife, details the last intrigue-filled year of the literary giant’s life. “I love trying to bring (period films) to life, and creating a whole world around the characters,” he says. “Michael and I looked at a lot of Russian paintings and images, and that really inspired us.”

Another recent period piece, “Black Death,” starring Sean Bean and directed by Chris Smith, “was very different,” he reports. “It was full of blood, horses and swords — I’ve never shot so much violence, but I wanted the experience.”

Ironically, Edschmid became a d.p. by chance. “A friend asked me to help out on a little production, and I immediately loved the teamwork on a set. I began as a runner and loader, and after four years as a focus puller, I wanted to create the images myself, so I went to school.” After studying at Berlin’s German Film and TV Academy, Edschmid went pro, winning a d.p. award for his 1998 short “Ku’damm Security.”

Still based in Berlin, he calls the city, “a great location for a cinematographer, because there’re so many filmmakers and so much history and interesting visuals. I feel very alive here.”


Movie that changed my life: Wong Kar Wai’s films

D.P. heroes: Sven Nykvist, Roger Deakins

Film or digital: Film

Favorite tool: Jib arm, color filters