Magazine article Screen International

BAFTA Masterclass: Anthony DOD Mantle

Magazine article Screen International

BAFTA Masterclass: Anthony DOD Mantle

Article excerpt

Award-winning cinematographer discusses balance between tech and emotion.

Bookended by extracts from Ron Howard's BAFTA nominated Rush, Dod Mantle spoke with journalist Ian Haydn Smith as part of the BAFTA Masterclass series about his career and the importance of challenging himself.

Although initially trained as a photographer, film offered the chance to be "driven forward and encouraged by people who had something in common with me. Ever since then I've found that I attract people with the same motivation and my working relationships develop from there."

That common element has seen Dod Mantle repeatedly work with Danny Boyle, Lars von Trier, Kevin Macdonald and now Howard, who he worked again with on the director's upcoming Heart of the Sea (2015).

His earliest cinematic partnership was with Thomas Vinterberg, first on The Biggest Heroes (1998) and then the groundbreaking Festen (1998), the first film made under the aegis of the Dogme 95 Manifesto. It was a key moment in his career development.

"Those rules," he says, "made us think a little bit more about how we made films. As professionals we run the risk of falling into autopilot after only a few films so this allowed us to think differently. Thomas, unlike Lars [von Trier], obeyed the rules and spent most of his time with the actors. That left me alone with the visuals, which was nerve-wracking but an incredible privilege."

His work on Festen made Dod Mantle a much sought after DoP. He described how Danny Boyle saw in his style the chance to re-define the horror genre with 28 Days Later (2002). Employing miniDV cameras, they exploded the zombie film: "Danny came from his collaboration with the brilliant Darius Khondji on The Beach (2000) and contacted me because he was fascinated by the way the camera moved in Festen. But that was a small film and 28 Days Later was huge.

He wanted to close London down and I was crapping myself because we had chosen to film on these consumer cameras. But he was attracted to how I could operate them and the element of liberation in using so many. The shutter system I employed with these cameras, which is hard to achieve with film, allowed me to create this sense of fear from a city overrun by zombies."

It is a stark contrast to the pared-down aesthetic of Dod Mantle's first collaboration with Lars von Trier on Dogville (2003): "If 28 Days Later was all about energy, what Lars was looking for was a film about faces, actors and performance. …

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