By the biggest luck I could ever dream, Tom Ford got hold of my reel and fell in love with it,” says the not-yet-30 Spaniard Eduard Grau, speaking of his assignment to lens the former fashion guru’s film debut, “A Single Man.”
Grau acknowledges that until he met the late-blooming auteur, he had no inkling Ford envisioned a career in cinema, but once they began working together, he discovered an aesthetic soulmate. “His amazing taste makes it easier for any cinematographer to work,” Grau says.
Their working method was collaborative, but Ford led the way. “Obviously, Tom had a specific conception of what he thought the movie had to look like,” notes Grau. “We talked a lot and found common ground based on what he wanted. It had to be colorful and different — special looking. He wanted shots that were refreshingly unconventional. We chose to shoot with film stock that was very common in the late 1990s but no longer made: Kodak 52/79, 500 Tungston — it was used for ‘Magnolia.’ We liked the saturated grain and texture of the image and the way it reminds you of 1960s Life magazine covers.”
The pic, which is set in early 1960s Los Angeles, bears the imprint of both these visually sensitive men. “Everyone who knows me says the movie is very much like me,” Grau says, “but everyone who knows Tom says the same about him. So me and Tom, we think similarly and like the same things.”
Grau’s goal was “to tell a beautiful story by images.” In this he must have succeeded, or so his father, who recently saw the film, would say. “His English isn’t that good, but he understood the story by how it was told,” says Grau. “The images tell you what’s happening.”
Movie that changed my life: “Annie Hall”
D.P. heroes: Anthony Dod Mantle, Harris Savides, Emmanuel Lubezki
Film or digital: Depends on the movie.
Favorite tool: Primo lenses