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Behind the Filmmaking Process of Premier Cinematographer, Fraser Rigg

When it comes to cinematography, few cinematographers match the artistry and skill of Fraser Rigg. His work stands out for its visual beauty and technical precision, which helped him quickly make a name for himself in the entertainment and music industries. Fraser Rigg’s portfolio includes films such as Batman, Headed East, Gangs of London Season 2, and VEST, which won best cinematography in 2021.

Fraser also worked on different music videos shooting for some of the UK’s biggest artists including MUSE, JESHI, Obongjayar, Loyle Carner and recently Jorja Smith. He is the creative director of TRIBE7, helping develop their new BLACKWING7 lens program. How does Fraser create such stunning visuals? He takes us behind the filmmaking process. 

Fraser’s process begins with careful preparation. He takes time to read the script or treatment and discuss it with the director/s, which helps him better understand the story, characters, and themes and gives him something to work with. Fraser also looks for references, images, words or ideas that can help enhance his work. But he talks about the importance of understanding emotion, he says that he asks directors to speak to him as if he were an actor. Speak to him so that he can understand the emotional motivation of the scene. “The camera in itself is a character, it can have its own personality or perspective – subjective, objective, POV etc. so by understanding the emotion of the scene I am better able to connect to the image and what motivates it”.

Once he has a good grasp of the project, he begins to plan the shots and angles and even sometimes creating “rules” for the project. According to Fraser, this is one of the most challenging steps. “You need images that perfectly bring the story to life,” he says. But sometimes, finding this ahead of the shoot is difficult. “I always try and leave space so as to be inspired on set, I am always looking to discover and sometimes the best frame is an accident.”

The biggest challenge Fraser ever faced was on the movie, The Batman. Fraser was shooting a scene with Robert Pattinson that involved stunts, wires, techno crane, and he only had two takes to nail it. “I had been tasked by Greig the main unit DP to shoot a stunt on the last day of the shoot, I had spent the whole day rehearsing the shot with a stunt double, and I was meant to have a half day to shoot the stunt with the lead actor. But there was a slight change, and I was given 30 minutes to shoot,” Fraser says.

To do this in 30 minutes, Fraser needed to be super keen and understand every movement. “I remember Robert getting wired up, feeling a deep focus kicking in – the kind of focus you hear soldiers, hunters, or athletes talking about. I could hear the thump of my heart in my ears,” Fraser adds. “Action was called and before you knew it the shot was over” Fraser managed to pull it off, and the shots made it into the cut. 

He encourages aspiring cinematographers to challenge themselves and go outside their comfort zone. “I think to make good work or to be good at anything you need to constantly have a level of pressure that forces you to keep on growing.” Fraser also adds the importance of networking and learning from others in the industry.

Fraser Rigg has been fortunate to work with industry legends. He studied under the tutelage of BAFTA nominated and Oscar-winning cinematographers Greig Fraser and Bradford Young, the first African American cinematographer to ever be nominated for an Oscar. Fraser also worked alongside well-known filmmakers like Matt Reeves, Philippe Le Sourd, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Terence Nance, Eugenio Caballero, and John Hillcoat. 

Fraser is tapping into this experience to grow his skills and career and create more visually appealing work. He has grown his brand into a highly-respected and sought-after cinematographer, shooting some of the biggest projects in the world. 

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