The Cinematography Podcast Episode 104: Anthony Dod Mantle

Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF thinks most cinematographers start out hoping and praying that the right script would come along that will spark a great film. His most recent project, the HBO series The Undoing, had a great script that he loved, but it was set in a world he couldn’t easily identify with. Anthony was drawn to The Undoing’s dark side of the upper echelons of wealth, and having his own personal life upended after a fire made him feel sympathetic to the characters’ world falling apart. New York is very much a character in the story, and during prep, he observed the city from different vantage points and set locations to get a feel for the “overworld” and underworld in the atmosphere, and he found what he calls the alphabet or dictionary of the script. For a six episode series such as The Undoing, Anthony had to budget his prep time, stay interested in the project and keep the magic alive throughout the shoot.

Anthony didn’t find photography or cinematography until he was in his late twenties, working different jobs, traveling the world, and finally settling in Denmark. He started taking photos during his travels, then decided to study photography formally at university. While Anthony loves the film format, he enjoys shooting and experimenting on almost any format. He’s become known for his pioneering style with digital cameras. His early days were spent working in Denmark, right at the time of the Dogme 95 film movement. The Dogme 95 style began in 1995 by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. The collective set out to make films strictly with story, acting and theme, without the use of big budgets or special effects. Others adopted the aesthetic, such as American director Harmony Korine, who made the film Julian Donkey-Boy, shot by Anthony. While the style of these films rely on traditional film tenets, the original ideas and technology von Trier, Vinterberg, Korine and Anthony explored was very new and exciting. Anthony shot several films with all three directors, and worked closely with Lars von Trier for about 20 years.

Anthony had tried and tested many different digital cameras when Danny Boyle called him to shoot his film, 28 Days Later. Boyle and Anthony decided to shoot the zombie movie with the Canon XL1. Using such a small format digital camera takes advantage of the stuttering effect of the shutter, and it was easy to multi-shoot with the tiny camera and the equally minuscule indie art film budget. Boyle was able to convince the authorities that he could shoot it very quickly, shutting down London streets to make them seem deserted.

Slumdog Millionaire is widely known to be the first digitally shot movie to win an Oscar for cinematography, although Anthony points out a few parts of it were actually shot on film. Anthony had spent a good amount of time in Mumbai, and his familiarity and ease with the city helped him and director Danny Boyle move quickly and react to a large cast of non-actors.

Anthony also brought his experience to the film Rush. He had been a fan of Formula One racing ever since childhood, and he loved working with director Ron Howard, who came to him with an open heart and a collaborative spirit, since Howard had to learn about the sport. Rush was extremely technically complicated and was mainly shot with only practical effects.

Find out more about Anthony Dod Mantle

See The Undoing on HBO Max

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Close Focus: The decision by Warner Bros. to release all of their 2021 slate streaming on HBO Max and in theaters day and date. There’s been a lot of outcry, backlash and criticism of this move.

Ben’s short end: The Shudder documentary, Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Making of The Exorcist, is a deep dive into the film.

Illya’s short end: To continue with “Merry Glassmas,” Illya is profiling the Tokina Vista lens series. A full set is about $30-40,000, but it’s a bargain for the quality. They’ve recently released the 40mm Vista lens, which you can pre-order from Hot Rod Cameras.

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Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman@hotrodcameras

Instagram: @illyafriedman

Ben Rock:  Twitter: @neptunesalad

Instagram: @bejamin_rock

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Alatractchi

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