For a cinematographer looking to get a leg up on the competition, there are few calling cards more impressive than David Fincher, whose stylish thrillers have provided more than a few d.p.’s with highlight-reel material that can’t be ignored.
And for Eigil Bryld, who recently shot the bulk of the first season of “House of Cards,” the political drama developed by Fincher, Kevin Spacey and Beau Willimon, he experienced the added benefit of Fincher directing the first two installments.
“Of course I have a sensibility — I try to make sure that the camera is always in the action, with a sense of naturalism and intimacy — but it’s important to try to break away from what you like,” says Bryld. “On ‘House of Cards’ our approach was to give each frame as much volume, power and darkness as possible. Everything was very composed, with no zooms, no Steadicam and no handheld. I enjoyed working with David. Nothing is convoluted, and he expects everyone to be frank with him as well.”
Bryld grew up in a small town in Denmark, aspiring to make politically themed documentaries. That led to Gwent College in Wales, where he became interested in narrative filmmaking. After graduation, he began shooting projects for Lars von Trier’s Zentropa. Later, “Wisconsin Death Trip” garnered some notice, and Bryld broke into the mainstream with “In Bruges.” His other credits include “Crime and Punishment,” “Kinky Boots” and David Chase’s feature directing debut, “Not Fade Away,” about an aspiring ’60s rock band inspired by the British Invasion.
His work on “You Don’t Know Jack” for director Barry Levinson brought him an Emmy nomination in 2010.
After his stint on “House of Cards,” Bryld is shooting commercials and looking at feature scripts.
“I could see myself doing something very small and obscure, or something more elaborate and ambitious,” he says. “I never thought I’d do episodic, but ‘House of Cards’ was a good excuse to break that rule. It’s tough and demanding, but people are doing some amazing, groundbreaking things for television today, and the audiences can be very big. But it’s the quality of material that gets one excited. I’m trying to be patient.”
Favorite tool: “My eyes. Both open and closed.”
Inspirations: “Gordon Willis, Nestor Almendros, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Slawomir Idziak — these artists created intimate, poetic images with a sense of mystery, something profound and dreamlike, where light bleeds out of darkness.”
Representation: The Skouras Agency