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Conroy’s father, also a DP, taught him that the key to success is working harder than anyone else. “Talent helps, but it’s your work ethic that separates you in the long term,” Conroy Jr. says. “He also taught me to listen more than talk.”
Conroy began as a loader on his dad’s sets at the age of 12. More recently, his work on “Penny Dreadful” was nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers award. He teamed with director-lead actor Rupert Everett on “The Happy Prince,” which depicts events in the life of Oscar Wilde and is prepping “Yardie,” set in Jamaica in the 1970s, with director Idris Elba. Other credits include the series “Broadchurch” and “Luther,” the latter nominated for an Emmy Award last year.
“For me, it’s all about being original and very visual in the filming,” he says. “I operate the camera, and that’s crucial, because for me – the, the framing, the lighting, the movement — it’s all one. You’re more free to go with your instincts rather than having to follow a predetermined plan. Sometimes, when it’s right for the material, I’m happy just roaming with the camera.”
“Jamestown,” an eight-episode drama set in 1617 America and shot by Conroy, premieres in the U.K. in May.
Rep: Sandra Marsh & Associates
Highlight: “Penny Dreadful”
Before his career as a cinematographer, Gioulakis studied the trumpet and earned a degree in fine art at Florida State U. He’s been shooting feature films since 2010, and his latest, a neo-noir crime thriller titled “Under the Silver Lake,” was directed by David Robert Mitchell, with whom he also made “It Follows.”
Gioulakis was nominated for a 2016 Independent Spirit Award for “It Follows,” and the $2 million film took in $20 million at the box office. Other credits also include M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 psychological thriller “Split,” and commercials for high-end clients such as Samsung and IBM.
Gioulakis finds strong parallels between cinematography and music. “I gravitate to films that are visually abstract and more about mood and tone,” he says. “A David Lynch film, for example, can be like a piece of music. And I think, unconsciously, my approach to learning the craft was informed by the years I spent practicing the trumpet for hours a day. It’s a discipline and an ongoing balance. I love both the technical and artistic aspects of camera, and mastering them is a means to an end — creating the images that the director wants.”
Gioulakis says his plan going forward is to continue shooting spots, allowing him to be selective about the feature assignments he accepts.
Rep: The Gersh Agency
Jensen’s strong work on series such as “True Blood,” “Game of Thrones,” “Sleeper Cell” and “Ray Donovan” launched him into the bigger-budget feature realm of “Fantastic Four” and, most recently, the forthcoming “Wonder Woman,” which he shot the majority of using 35mm film and Panavision lenses.
Early in his career, Jensen made contact with DP heroes such as Conrad Hall and Gordon Willis, asking for their advice. He remembers Hall’s burning intensity, even in his 70s, and felt it validated his own youthful drive to do quality work. He studied at USC and shot his first feature in the 1990s, but says he’s only now settling in to the leadership aspect of the job.
“When I first started, I was so focused on the technical side, and on ignoring distractions and making solid choices,” he says. “Now, those decisions are more second nature to me, and I’m better at maximizing the talents of the people around me. On these big superhero movies, you really have to be comfortable with yourself. There’s so much work to be done, and you have to guide your people in the right direction while also letting go and allowing them to make their contributions.”
Highlight: “Wonder Woman”
In a diversity-challenged industry, Kelly’s faced a hard struggle to make it as a successful black woman DP in a male-dominated industry. She didn’t even begin in the camera department, but in electrical and lighting, learning the ropes and working her way up on non-union, low-budget shoots in New York, and then shooting dozens of music videos and documentaries.
Kelly’s big break came when she was hired by “Selma” director Ava DuVernay to shoot the critically acclaimed documentary “13th,” which earned an Oscar nomination for documentary feature and won a BAFTA. She reteamed with DuVernay to shoot the second season of “Queen Sugar,” shot the musical “Were the World Mine” and “Mariachi Gringo” for director Tom Gustafson, and four seasons of the five-time Emmy-nominated Hulu show “East Los High.” “I love the exploration of film as a visual language with its own vocabulary,” he says. “Aside from shooting, sending images back and forth with a director in prep is my favorite time.”
Kelly’s most recent feature, “Skin in the Game,” is about human trafficking. “I brought a stack of [photographer] Todd Hido’s books to show [director] Adisa his motel portraits,” says Kelly. “Instantly, we had a visual vocabulary to share with the crew.”
Rep: Dattner Dispoto & Associates
In a few short years the Aussie DP, now L.A.-based, has carved out an international career in feature films, documentaries and television. He shot Jordan Peele’s recent comedy horror hit “Get Out”; the upcoming Blumhouse thrillers “The Darkness” and “Insidious: Chapter 4”; comic thriller “Half to Death” for Universal; and the indie fantasy drama “Wildling” for Maven Pictures and director Fritz Bohm.
Oliver also continued his documentary work shooting the indie doc “Roller Dreams” and did additional photography on “Blood Father” for Mel Gibson, “Incarnate” for director Brad Peyton and “Stephanie” for Akiva Goldsman.
A graduate of Melbourne’s Swinburne Film School, he made his feature debut with the gritty black and white “Everynight … Everynight,” lensed the hit teen movie and AFI winner “Looking for Alibrandi” and the drama “Tom White,” winner of the Australian Cinematographers Society’s Golden Tripod Award. His TV work includes the Australian World War I drama “Beneath Hill 60,” which earned him his third Australian Academy nomination, and “Beaconsfield.” “For me it’s all about the collaboration — the more I can contribute to the storytelling to strengthen the director’s vision, the more satisfying the experience, and often, I think the movie is better for it. Directors need not work in a vacuum.”
Highlight: “Get Out”
Born in France, Potier was raised in Paris and grew up loving still photography, so it was natural for him to gravitate toward cinematography and the camera department while on set with his mother, who produced commercials. Following in her footsteps, he has since worked with top commercial directors such as Harmony Korine, Eric Lynne, Nick Gordon, Yoann Lemoine and Frédéric Planchon.
Potier, who reports that his primary influences in cinematography include Harris Savides, Conrad Hall and Gordon Willis, has also shot multiple shorts and the video for Woodkid’s “I Love You,” which was nominated for cinematography and music video at the Camerimage cinematography film festival in Poland.
Potier recently wrapped production on Melanie Laurent’s “Galveston, ” starring Ben Foster and Elle Fanning, after collaborating with the actress-director on her award-winning 2014 film “Breathe.” Earlier, he shot Nikole Beckwith’s dramatic breakout “Stockholm, Pennsylvania,” which was nominated for multiple awards, including the grand jury prize at Sundance, and Thomas Bidegain’s 2015 indie thriller “Les Cowboys,” which screened at Cannes and other fests. He credits both films as big breaks. “Filmmaking is a collaborative experience,” says Potier, who plans a move to L.A. in August. “Pushing the boundaries always creates provocative results. I have always been an observer and I project my personal vision with the camera.”
Highlight: “Stockholm, Pennsylvania”
Obsessed with photography since he was a kid, Presant started working with cinematographer Tom Richmond while in high school and assisted him for six years on commercials, music videos and features. After graduating from USC’s School of Cinema-Television, he dove into indies, shooting award-winning features on the festival circuit including “Mortuary,” “The Truth Below” and “Hours.” He also developed a close relationship with director Rian Johnson and DP Steve Yedlin, and the three have collaborated — with Presant as 2nd unit DP — on the award-winning “Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom,” “Looper” and the upcoming “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Presant is shooting Brad Peyton’s big-budget New Line action sci-fi adventure “Rampage,” starring Dwayne Johnson, set for release in 2018.
“The thing that makes cinematography so amazing is the nuanced position it holds between technique and artistry,” he says. “There’s a technical knowledge that, once mastered, allows one to see imaging in an entirely new and evocative way. From there we can author images that add the perfect support to a narrative — controlling the technical in a way that makes it an artistic tool. Those are the moments I love most in film, when the technique becomes art and perfectly supports the emotion of a story.”
Rep: Innovative Artists
Highlight: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2nd unit)
Juliette Van Dormael
Van Dormael, a native of Belgium and a graduate of INSAS in Brussels, shot her first film, 2015’s “Mon Ange” (My Angel), at age 24. Her delicate imagery on that film conveyed the relationship between a blind girl and a character who is invisible. Van Dormael’s work caught the attention of the American Society of Cinematographers, which nominated “Mon Ange” for its 2016 Spotlight Award, recognizing films exhibited in limited release, at festivals, or internationally. The film also won the Cinematographers’ Debut competition at the Camerimage Festival in Poland.
“We wanted to subjectively show the emotions and sensations of the characters using cinematographic techniques,” she says. “We put a lot of materials before the lens to blur the image, and created an evolution of simple, subtle colors.”
Van Dormael continues: “My goal is to have an open mind, but that requires thorough preparation. If I’m not prepared, I have one idea and I must follow it. When I’m prepared, I can have many new ideas, and follow surprises on the set.”
Van Dormael is preparing to shoot “Cold Blood,” a stage production that will be shot live and directed by her father, Jaco Van Dormael. After that, she’s planning a feature titled “Caval.”
Highlight: “Mon Ange”
Growing up in Australia, Wegner developed a passion for writing and photography. When she enrolled as a film student at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, she focused on shooting her classmates’ films, which led to post-grad work on pics by fellow VCA alums, including a gig as second camera operator on Justin Kurzel’s (“Assassin’s Creed”) 2011 feature “The Snowtown Murders.”
After years of working primarily on commercials and short films, Wegner had a breakthrough year in 2016 with the Aussie TV drama “The Kettering Incident” and director William Oldroyd’s period feature “Lady Macbeth,” which earned numerous prizes on the film festival circuit. She recently wrapped work on director Dustin Feneley’s indie drama “Stray,” and is now in Toronto shooting the second season of Starz’s “The Girlfriend Experience.”
Although female cinematographers are still relatively rare, Wegner says her career hasn’t been hampered by her gender. “I’ve never felt any never felt blatant discrimination or even people treating me differently,” she says. “Maybe there’s some subtle stuff I don’t even see, but I feel blessed to be an emerging cinematographer at this time in history.”
Highlight: “The Girlfriend Experience”
The Mexico City native became obsessed with movies in his teens, attending local second-run cinemas that ran a different feature every day and frequenting film festivals. While studying filmmaking at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos, he gravitated toward cinematography, serving as the DP on friends’ projects. Unfortunately, when he graduated, Mexico was experiencing a period of economic turmoil, “which basically killed the film industry,” he says. Undaunted, he worked on commercials, documentaries and short film projects, finally scoring his big break in 2004 with his Jim Jarmusch-influenced black-and-white photography on “Duck Season,” directed by film school classmate Fernando Eimbcke, which earned him cinematography honors at Mexico’s Ariel Awards. He earned another Ariel Award for “Silver Light” (2007) and a nomination for Eimbcke’s “Lake Tahoe” (2008).
For the past three years, Zabe has been living in Los Angeles, working on a wide variety of projects, from the Adidas-sponsored short film “Original Is Never Finished” to writer-director Sean Baker’s upcoming “The Florida Project.” He has also shot music videos for the Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and “Marilyn Monroe,” plus the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Sacrilege.”
“I evolved and developed in Mexico, but it opens up a whole new universe to live in the U.S.,” says Zabe.