How Robert Richardson Makes His Movies Look So Damn Good
Art and Experience: Robert Richardson is one of the best cinematographers in the history of ever.
With films like Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, The Aviator, Bringing Out the Dead, and JFK on his resume, Richardson has earned both three Academy Awards for Best Cinematography as well as the respect of both his peers and his fans for churning out consistently impressive and “can’t-look-away” visuals. Even though he rotates through directors like Scorsese and Tarantino, audiences always know when they’re watching a Robert Richardson joint. His signature use of a harsh overhead light in a scene is a dead giveaway.
So how does he do it? How does he pull off such arresting visuals so effortlessly? See for yourself.
In honor of his birthday today, we found the above video that breaks down his process by profiling some of his most iconic films and how he shot them. Our friends at Wolfcrow have done the filmmaking community a great service here. In less than 20 minutes, they have complied an “Advanced Cinematography” course and profile of the cameraman in a very user-friendly way.
For a resume as long and varied as Richardson’s it is fascinating to see how consistent he is at using lighting and camera to service character and story in some truly enviable ways.
His fidelity to visual storytelling, to telling narratives as interesting visually as they are honest emotionally, is a cornerstone of his work. It shows us how to make it one of ours, as well.