×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Lion’ Cinematographer Got Creative With Camera Movement

Working on “Lion” seemed like more of a passion project than a job to Greig Fraser.

The cinematographer got to shoot in his home country of Australia, as well as in India, where he’s worked dozens of times and where his wife runs a charity. And he got the opportunity to work with his best friend, director Garth Davis.

Despite — or perhaps because of — that comfort level, Fraser won recognition from his peers when, on Feb. 4, he took home the American Society of Cinematographers award for theatrical release. A few months earlier, he had copped the top prize at the Camerimage cinematography film festival in Poland.

Lion” — a true story adapted from the book by Australian Saroo Brierley about the author’s long journey to find his birth parents in India — has been nominated for six Oscars, including one for cinematography.

Fraser had a concrete vision of the look of “Lion” as he came on board.

“I had a very strong visual idea of what [it was going to be],” he says. “The juxtaposition of India and Australia is such a great one to explore.”

The DP tested both film and digital formats prior to production, and ended up using the Arri Alexa XT camera. “We used vintage Panavision lenses because I found that we wanted to keep a consistent look throughout the movie,” says Fraser, who’s had a busy three years while filming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Foxcatcher,” and “The Gambler.” He’s collaborating with Davis again for “Mary Magdalene.”

“India and Australia are worlds apart visually,” he says, “and we explored the idea of shooting one format for India and one for Australia, but we decided it was simpler to let the locations do the work and let the format take a back seat.”

However, Fraser had to change his shooting style for each place in one significant way: “In India we were filming a 5-year-old boy who is three-foot-four,” he explains, “and in Australia we were filming a six-foot-tall adult.”

Fraser took each actor’s height into account — Sunny Pawar in India and Dev Patel in Australia — for moving the camera. “With Dev, we used Steadicam,” he says, “and with Sunny, we were on a MoVI stabilized gimbal rig,” which lets everyone be nimble as they move about.

In one scene where Pawar is in a trash dump, Fraser and Davis sent the young actor wandering off around the built scene on his own.

“It was just Sunny, the camera operator, and the boom swinger looking for stuff in the trash,” he explains. “I was able to have control over the camera movements and hone in on those little moments that make the film so visually special.”

More Artisans

  • Jeff Goldblum performs in a sketch

    Inside the High-Pressure World of Late-Night Talk-Show Prop Demands

    Television production is an area where “Hurry up and wait” is a common refrain. However, for the prop teams that work on late-night talk shows like “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” that’s not an option. They typically have only a matter of hours to deliver what’s necessary. Lou A. [...]

  • Smithsonian Handmaids Tale Costume

    Why the Smithsonian Chose to Enshrine 'Handmaid's Tale' Servant Costume

    The iconic red-caped, white-bonneted outfits worn by Elisabeth Moss and the other childbearing servants in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” created by costume designer Ane Crabtree, have become that show’s signature visual.  Hulu immediately knew it had a good thing, hiring groups of women around the country to parade in the garments to promote the show. [...]

  • Sir Lionel Frost (left) voiced by

    Why 'Missing Link's' Title Character Was One of Laika's Biggest Challenges

    Stop-motion studio Laika pushes design boundaries in every film it makes, and the lead character in “Missing Link” is no exception. “It became pretty apparent that [the character] Link was going to be the cornerstone,” says director and writer Chris Butler. “I did this rough drawing many years ago, and it was basically like a [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    New 3D-Printing Technology Was 'Missing Link' for Laika's Latest Stop-Motion Project

    For the upcoming animated comedy adventure “Missing Link,” stop-motion studio Laika set the bar very high. To execute the designs created by director and writer Chris Butler, artists would have to speed up their 3D printing of character faces — and those faces would have to be the most complex they’d ever created. “Missing Link” [...]

  • The Old Man and the Gun

    Ohio’s Midwest Locations and Flexible Tax Credit Lure Producers

    With its small towns, rolling farmlands and industrial cities, Ohio embodies the American Midwest. Other location lures for filmmakers include the shore along Lake Erie, the campus of Ohio State University, the striking skyline of Cincinnati and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The Buckeye State also provides producers with a 30% [...]

  • Nancy Schreiber Mapplethorpe Cinematographer

    DP Nancy Schreiber Captures Life of Artist Robert Mapplethorpe in Grimy Gotham

    Don’t tell cinematographer Nancy Schreiber that she’s having a renaissance. That would imply there’ve been slumps in her long career, and she won’t have any of that, even if for a time she was taking smaller jobs as the gaps widened between larger gigs. “It’s never been about the money, for me,” says Schreiber over [...]

  • What Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga Share:

    LeRoy Bennett Keeps Top Acts Like Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande in the Spotlight

    You might say that LeRoy Bennett is a shining light among lighting and production designers for pop music. Doing double duty creating both touring sets and their illumination, he started out with a 14-year run as Prince’s collaborator, went on to work with Nine Inch Nails and Madonna and has counted Beyoncé’s and Bruno Mars’ [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content