The Cinematography Podcast Episode 149: Cinematographer Eduard Grau, ASC

Cinematographer Eduard Grau, ASC thinks it’s important to take risks in filmmaking because it sparks creativity and passion for what you’re doing. Passing director Rebecca Hall had worked with Edu on several films as an actor, and trusted him to bring his creative skill to her first directorial project. Based on the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen, Hall had been trying to get the movie made for several years. She held firm on her vision from the beginning that Passing would be a black and white film, and she wanted it to be in the square 4:3 aspect ratio as a throwback to the movies of the 1930’s time period, so that the characters were more intimately centered in the frame. Edu was excited to work on such an exceptional film, in which cinematography is so integral to both the look of the film and the storytelling narrative.

Passing explores race and identity in the lives of two former friends who reconnect in late 1920’s Harlem. Ruth Negga’s character Clare is passing as white while Tessa Thompson’s character Irene is a respected member of the black community. Hall wanted the film to feel very restrained, as the characters are feeling under constant scrutiny, and the story is told mainly through the women’s faces. Edu kept the shots close and intimate, with very natural lighting.

Edu grew up in Spain and became interested in cinematography in high school. He went to film school in Barcelona and the UK. He made a short film that went to Cannes, then had a chance meeting with a producer at the Edinburg Film Festival. She passed his reel to Tom Ford who needed just the right DP to shoot A Single Man. Ford saw exactly what he was looking for in Edu’s reel and asked him to fly out to the U.S. It was Edu’s first movie on 35mm, his first movie in the United States, and his first movie with such big movie stars. After A Single Man, Edu went on to shoot Buried starring Ryan Reynolds, whose character is buried alive. He loved the challenge of shooting Buried in an interesting way with such extremely limited space constraints.

You can watch Passing on Netflix.

Find Edu Grau Instagram: @eduardgrau

Close Focus: The Beatles Get Back on Disney+, a great film that documents the creative process.

Illya’s short end: Prolycht is offering a special deal on the Orion 300 FS LED 6 color light where if you buy 2 you get one free. You can buy yours at Hot Rod Cameras.

Ben’s short end: An app called Writer’s Room Pro that allows writers to work remotely and collaboratively, instead of with index cards on a bulletin board.

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Podcast Credits:

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Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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