‘The Creator’ DP Greig Fraser Recalls His Favorite ‘Rogue One’ Shot



Oscar-winning cinematographer Greig Fraser was “devastated” when Warner Bros. announced that “Dune: Part Two” was shifting its release date from Nov. 2023 to March 2024.

“I was really ready to start talking about it,” he tells Variety. However, the move means he can focus his attention on his other film, Gareth Edwards’ $80 million visual spectacular “The Creator.

Fraser shared co-cinematographer duties with Oren Soffer on the film, taking an experimental approach to shooting futuristic landscapes. The production aimed to create the grandness and visual scale of a huge blockbuster film, but on a more modest budget. And he achieved it.

“Gareth and wanted to maximize everyone’s toil on this,” Fraser shares. “So, when we put two actors in a room together with a camera, we looked at how many people we really needed standing outside.”

Next, the pair spent extensive time ahead of production figuring out the infrastructure of the shoot. How could they further reduce costs? They tested camera equipment before production to see if the gritty, lived-in look of the film would work with a Sony FX3. Says Fraser, “We answered all the questions – such as what if you want to go from a gimbal shot to handheld – we could in advance… We tested the theories in my home and Gareth’s home before he went to Thailand.”

Visually, Fraser says “Alien,” “Blade Runner” and early Steven Spielberg films were influences. The reason, Fraser explains, was “our approach was a documentary-style one, so it was harder to keep the cinematic style if you’re in a documentary mindset… So, we wanted to make sure we kept that ‘80s reference. We wanted to elevate a documentary approach, but bring in a cinema-level aesthetic. And that is what we fought for every day.”

Reuniting with Edwards allowed the cinematographer to reflect on one of his favorite shots of his career, from the pair’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” In the scene, Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) pays a visit to Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) in order to discuss the Death Star. Fraser says, “There are some things that I’ve been able to do visually, and that was cool. I got to take an iconic character and put him into an iconic situation and create that.”

He adds that the film’s finale sequence with Darth Vader was shot three months before the release. The film’s ending changed from what had originally been shot.

Says Fraser, “I was about to start on ‘Mary Magdalene’ with Garth Davis’ and I got a call about a new ending. I went, ‘Are you kidding? But, I have to say, we shot a great ending.’ I was so enamored to be privy to that scene. To be able to lens that, I think is an essential Darth Vader scene in the entire canon, not just for the film. It’s a very important moment for that character. To get to properly record his venom was cool.”

Photo credit: Lucasfilm/ILM ©2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

And while the cinematographer behind “The Batman” and “Foxcatcher” was reminiscing on favorite shots, “Killing Them Softly” starring Brad Pitta and James Gandolfini ranked highly. Fraser is currently in New Orleans shooting an undisclosed project, returning to where Andrew Dominik’s 2012 crime feature was shot.

Fraser remembers one scene with particular fondness: Gandolfini’s character arrives in New Orleans, stepping off the plane and into the terminal. Recalls Fraser, “I remember that being a long shot of his character getting off the airplane, walking up the walkway and being right behind him as he goes down the escalator. It’s a profile shot. And he has his carry-on. I had my carry-on and I remembered it as a mark of respect.”

Fraser continues, “I’ve been living in that world a little bit in the last 24 hours. The scene where he’s sitting with Brad Pitt’s character in the hotel room and he’s talking about his life — Really, it’s one of the most beautiful performances. It’s a scene I can watch over and over.”


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