American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 112

Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC

When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?
Ken Loach's Kes (1969) struck a strong chord with me. I identified
with the boy's loneliness and the world of his imagination within an
industrial, small-town setting. It remains one of my favorite films.

How did you get your first break in the business?
I was handed a Super 8 camera by Derek Jarman and told to go
'hunter gathering' for images. I was a camera assistant at the time,
but it gave me the confidence to become a cameraman.
What has been your most satisfying
moment on a project?
Wrapping The Hours without being fired!

Which cinematographers, past or present,
do you most admire?
There are so many whose work inspires me,
and that in itself confirms the diversity of the
art. My great mentor was Jack Cardiff, BSC,
whose work with Powell and Pressburger, John
Huston and many others is unparalleled in its
artfulness and technical experimentation. I love
the enhanced naturalism in the cinematography of Haskell Wexler, ASC; Roger Deakins,
ASC, BSC; Chris Menges, ASC, BSC; and Chris
Doyle, HKSC. There is deceptive simplicity in
their approach, which always promotes the
story rather than being spectacular or beautiful
just for the sake of it.

Have you made any memorable blunders?
Some of my blunders have produced unexpectedly beautiful results. I love happy accidents! Recently, while shooting Godzilla, I accidentally went to the lakeside set of Planet of
the Apes 2, which was shooting close by and
had a set very similar to the one we were going
to shoot that day. I wandered around with my
light meter, not recognizing anybody. It was a
surreal, dreamlike experience until the blunder
dawned on me!

What sparked your interest in photography?
The absolute tedium of living in a war zone (Armagh, Northern
Ireland) fused with high-octane, explosive moments that made epic
the everyday - it was a bit like a film set! I took refuge behind a
camera and in a darkroom as a way of translating the real world
through a lens. I got the bug when I saw my first images appearing
in the developing tray under red light. It has always given me a thrill
how the camera can infuse the apparently mundane with poetic
attributes.
Where did you train and/or study?
I studied film and photographic arts at The Polytechnic of Central
London (now the University of Westminster).
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
We had great teachers at The Polytechnic, including Polish cinematographer Jacek Petrycki; I learned so much from them and specifically from him. He had a thoughtful, philosophical approach to film.
I learned a lot from Ian Wilson, BSC when I was his clapper loader. I
have benefited throughout my career from filmmakers selflessly sharing their knowledge and experience with me. It's something I try to
do for others now.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
Looking at the natural play of light in all sorts of weather conditions
and in different countries is a constant source of inspiration. An occasional glass of Bandol Rose encourages unformulaic creative thinking!
112

November 2013

What is the best professional advice
you've ever received?
'Cinematography is 10 percent cinematography and 90 percent
bladder control.'
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment, Patrick de Witt's The
Sisters Brothers, Bill Viola's Transfiguration and everything by James
Turrell. Also, dangerousminds.net is full of inspiring articles and
pictures.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to
try?
I would love to shoot a Western.
If you weren't a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
Possibly a journalist. It's what I thought I wanted to be when I was
young.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for
membership?
Roger Deakins, Amy Vincent and Rodney Taylor.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
It has allowed me to share my love of cinematography with fellow
cinematographers whose work I revere. It has also emphasized the
importance of sharing our experience with students in order to propagate and improve the art form.
‚óŹ

American Cinematographer

Photo by Kimberly French, courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Close-up


http://www.dangerousminds.net

American Cinematographer - November 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - November 2013

Contents
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 1
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 2
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 3
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 4
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - Contents
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 6
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 7
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 8
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 9
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 10
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 11
American Cinematographer - November 2013 - 12
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