The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents February 2016 Return to Table of Contents
Kathleen Kennedy
ASC Close-Up
Greig Fraser

Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS

When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?

Like most guys my age, the films that were the most influential had to be the original Star Wars trilogy and the Spielberg films of that time: E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc. I remember seeing The Killing Fields as a young teen and being completely altered by that experience. That defined the mark of a truly exceptional film for me — beyond entertainment and into life-altering events.

Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?

It's a very long list, since I would like to think that as cinematographers, we learn from all our peers. To be specific, though, [ASC members] Jordan Cronenweth, Conrad Hall, Roger Deakins, Harris Savides and Chris Menges have all been incredibly inspirational.

What sparked your interest in photography?

I was often drawn to creative writing and filmmaking at high school, but I found when I started photography that a great still image can sum up — or make you question — so much. The right photograph, properly executed, is the most economical way to tell a story.

Where did you train and/or study?

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where I studied photography. Once I decided to pursue cinematography, I immersed myself in as many films as I could see and studied them intently. I was also incredibly inspired by music videos and commercials by Mark Romanek, Spike Jonze and Jonathan Glazer.

Who were your early teachers or mentors?

My first photography teacher was Rob Mau. Some of my early teachers were also the directors I was working with when I started in the film industry. Transitioning from photography to film was a great challenge; I still think some of those guys are the best photographers I know.

What are some of your key artistic influences?

The world I immerse myself in during prep depends on the film. I learned doing Bright Star that my most useful visual influence is not always visual. I studied the poetry of John Keats in prep for that film and found the imagined images those words evoked stronger than a lot of visual references.

What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?

I must say, being blessed to be able to shoot the very best actors, guided by the very best directors, clothed by the very best costumers, on sets by the very best designers is the highlight of my career. The beauty of a great collaborative relationship is incredible.

Have you made any memorable blunders?

Lots, and way too many to list because I would like to work again!

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

It must be a lighting tip: ‘When in doubt, turn it off.’

What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?

Alejandro Iñárritu always makes incredibly inspiring films, as do Alfonso Cuarón and David Fincher. I loved House of Cards, and also an Australian series called The Beautiful Lie, episodes of which my friend Glendyn Ivin directed. I’m loving photography by Michael Goldberg and art by Ant Keogh. I must admit, though, that with three children under the age of 4, trips to the cinema have been reduced. I recently watched Inside Out with my 4-year-old and was blown away by the quality of the cinematography. It hasn't received nearly enough attention in this category.

Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to try?

No favorite genres. Generally, once I’ve shot a genre, I try not to do another like it for quite a while. I’d be keen to try doing a musical, though. It's a little out of character, but I always like a challenge. And come to think of it, maybe animation would be interesting, too.

If you weren’t a cinematographer, what might you be doing instead?

I would have continued as a photographer. If not that, then who knows? Unfortunately, I don’t have any useful skills for anything else.

Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for membership?

Roger Deakins, Rodney Taylor, Mandy Walker and Steven Fierberg.

How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?

Being supported by my peers and the ASC community at large is a great feeling. Despite all our diversity, and our different tastes and styles, the ASC helps us become a cohesive group to voice all things creative and non-creative.


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