Colour Fridays is back at MyTherapy! This summer we’ll be discussing the top British Cinematographers of our time whose influential work and groundbreaking techniques have really pushed the boundaries of film. Tune in every Friday for the latest article on Colour Pros: Cinematographers. First up we have the incredible Anthony Dod Mantle.
Anthony Dod Mantle
Anthony Dod Mantle (b. 1955) was a late bloomer, having grown up in an artistic-minded family in Oxford and traveled the world until his mid-20’s. It was in India that he began to realise his growing love of stills photography. When he came back from India he applied to the London College of Printing and studied there for 3 years before getting his degree. Soon realising he “can’t be as good a photographer as, say, David Bailey” he moved from stills into film, and shot his first project on a CP-16 (Cinema Products Corporation) camera, which was a “little strange box with a funny lens that looked like a spare tire balanced on top of it”. Encouraged to pursue his growing fascination with film, Dod Mantle found himself in one of only five available places at the National Film School of Denmark, and moved there in 1985.
Dod Mantle describes his cinematic style as a mixture of ‘politics and poetry’ and believes it is personality and honesty that enables a person to leave their artistic mark in the world and be different from thousands of others who do the same. His friendship with Thomas Vinterberg soon opened the doors of mainstream success through groundbreaking digital camerawork and he has since been a pioneer of the creative use of digital technology, having collaborated with Lars Von Trier (Dogville, Dear Wendy, Manderlay, Antichrist), Kevin McDonald (Last King of Scotland) and Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Trance).
2008 and beginning of 2009 were particularly busy years for Dod Mantle as he scooped awards left, right and centre (including an Oscar for Best Cinematography) for his work on the Mumbai rags-to-riches fairytale Slumdog Millionaire and TV crime thriller Wallander. In May of 2008 Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist premiered at Cannes and the DOP spent the rest of the year fielding questions concerning the storm of controversy that this film whipped up. In all its simplicity, Antichrist was the most technically demanding work that Dod Mantle had done up to that point. The stunning black-and-white opening scene with the two main protagonists making out in the shower was shot with a high-speed camera, running between 600 and 1000 frames per second. Dod Mantle believes it was Lars Von Trier’s intention to make that contrast between the roving physicality of the rest of the film and the amazing stillness you get when you use a high speed. What we are seeing is slowed down so much that for the first time in the cinema you had the sense of watching a film in the way that I look at a painting.
However, his most experimental and technically complex work to date has to be Rush, Ron Howard’s 2013 fast moving Formula 1 racing drama, which captured the glitzy, global, flamboyant nature of 1970’s F1 season before it got shackled by the corporate interests. Dod Mantle utilised a mind blowing array of cinematographic tricks and devices including archival footage, old lenses including Baltars and Cooke S2s that broke down the definition while keeping the amazing ArriRaw latitude, Canon C300 cameras on ramps to capture the violent, animalistic nature of vehicles up close, Indiecam’s small 1080p HD cameras for capturing fast movement (positioned on the car as well as driver’s helmets and actors), an onsite grading facility with a whole host of tools including Blackmagic Design, DaVinci Resolve (on Mac), Scratch Lab and Adobe After Effects, as well as many others.
Dod Mantle continues to develop an original and inventive approach to cinematography with every new project. His rationale is to tell the story in the way the story deserves and not repeat yourself: “If you start to repeat the styles, it is pointless.”
To check out Anthony Dod Mantle’s website click here