Slumdog Soars with Anthony Dod Mantle


One of the most important roles in the creation of a film, in addition to the producer, director, and cast them self, is the cinematographer. The director of photography, who must create a unified thematic element of the visual look and feel of the film, from light saturation, to shadows, darkness, pacing, crosscutting with in camera edits, and beyond, the cinematographer can make or break a film.

One of the most beautiful films of the year, that took home best picture, was in no small part to its cinematographer. Winning the 81st Academy Award® for best Achievement in cinematography, Anthony Dod Mantle brought the mastery of his craft to a powerful explosion of light, sound, movement, and emotion with the captivating ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ He spoke with the press after the awards backstage for some insightful discourse on filmmaking, including his work in the Dogma school, which was part media stunt, part avant garde film movement designed by Thomas Vinterberg and Lars Von Trier. Its scope was a list of inflexible do’s and dont’s that must be adhered to, to get the stamp of their approval, for a certain type of bare bones filmmaking, in reaction against the superficiality they viewed Hollywood films to have become.

Q. Congratulations to you. I am very curious if you can speak a little bit about your experience with Dogme filmmaking and how that's affected your film making for SLUMDOG?

ANTHONY DOD MANTLE: Absolutely, not at all. I mean, with Dogme, I think Dogme was wonderful. I think Dogme was more attached to my background as a documentarist, really. You know, its look at light, not make the light but see the light and hunt the light. You have to find and see what's going on in a very short period of time and grab it. I know which tree you're barking up with a certain amount of available light shooting and with SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE that's true. Maybe my background, which I think is more from documentary from Dogme, is probably more relevant. Dogme was like five weeks with Thomas Vinterberg, five weeks with Soren Kragh Jacobsen, and five or six weeks with my dear friend Harmony Korine. I spent like 10 years in documentaries so, I guess that's the balance.

Q. How did you achieve (the look of the film) and how much of the scenes were set up?

ANTHONY DOD MANTLE: When I work with Danny, it's the same thing as in the studio. You just walk into a space the day before or week before or in the morning, and you look at the space and my job and my vocation is trying to explore the space, you know, with him in mind, with the story in mind, but use the space, not necessarily the right way because there's no right way, but the way we feel we should do it together intuitively. And whether it's a stage, a sound stage or a sound stage on a block in Fox, or whether it's a location or a small room or great space the same thing applies, you just have to snoop around like an animal, and smell and sniff and work it out. And then the cameras start coming out, and when I am preparing maybe an A or B channel and talking to Danny about the dialog or what is the main intent of the scene

Q. Thanks so much. And congratulations.


Copyright © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. © 2009, The Hollywood Sentinel. Used with permission with kind courtesy of the 81st Academy Awards®.