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Career Stories: Laurie Rose

Posted on Apr 11, 2024 by Samara Husbands

Cinematographer Laurie Rose is known for his  work on Rebecca (2020), Kill List (2011), Peaky Blinders and Rosaline (2022). He was granted the British Academy Television Craft award for photography & lighting in fiction for his work on London Spy (2015)

Interview Nicola Foley        Images Kerry Brown/Netflix

Definition: How did you get into filmmaking?

Laurie Rose: I went to art school; but I couldn’t draw so wanted to do sculpture. I did a lot of welding things together – and blowing things up! – which somehow developed into performance art and installations.

I sometimes videoed these events; those were the days of video editing tape to tape, something I did not enjoy! I left art school pretty disillusioned by it all and had no plans to carry on…

Def: What initially appealed to you about becoming a DOP?

LR: It was never a conscious plan for me, and it was a long and winding path.

From running at a TV company, to freelance documentary sound, to TV location camera, to full-time narrative work, it was about a 15-year process in total.

But what I love about what I do is the creation of ‘things’ to convey a story or a message, which I guess speaks to my time at art school.

I love the blend of craft and technology.

I love working with people who are on the same journey as you, with collaborative crew – or friends as I like to see them – this is the centre for me on any project.

Def: How would you describe the dynamics between DOP and director?

LR: Every director and cinematographer relationship is different – and it should be.

People’s backgrounds and approaches can vary wildly, but I hope that I can be a solid partner for any director.

It’s always a team effort: none of us can do this work alone without any input from others, and the best teams always bring different things to a project, even if it’s a sense of humour!

Similarly, cinematographers alone cannot make good cinematography, they always need talented people around them and a director to motivate, inspire and encourage that process.

I hope I can do that in return.

Rebecca
Rebecca

Def: What are your favourite bits of kit?

LR: I got into the versatility of DJI Ronin 2s post-Covid, and more recently I’m having a love affair with the Filmotechnic F27 crane (thanks to Jean-Philippe Gossart).

The combination of these two things is utter joy.

In another part of the forest, LED lighting and on-set wireless DMX control is my other biggest delight.

Control like that is intoxicating.

But then again, I find happiness in the basics like handheld. There’s an honesty and authenticity to that, at the end of the day.

Def: What’s been your proudest career moment so far, and why?

LR: I have a bunch of micro-proud moments: the feeling of doing good prep; seeing your name on the slate for the first shot of a project (this includes the BSC letters after my name!); the last take of a scene that was a huge worry and has gone far better than expected; the end of the first day of shooting and the final take of the whole project before wrapping; starting and finishing a successful picture post.

And then about two years after a project has come out, when I can finally look back at it and not be terrified and appreciate the amazing work we all did and actually enjoy it.

Then, ultimately, I’m proud of everything I’ve done and the people I’ve worked with.

Def: What about your biggest career challenge – and how did you overcome it?

LR: All the best endeavours will be challenging, that’s what keeps it thrilling.

If you can see scary things as exciting then you’ll be OK.

As I said, nobody can do this alone and having that support around you is something to believe in.

Other major challenges are maintaining a family/work balance (still welcoming advice on that).

Having an incredibly supportive partner and family is beyond crucial and cannot be stressed enough.

(c)-KERRY-BROWN-NETFLIX
(c)-KERRY-BROWN-NETFLIX

Def: Is there anything you’d do differently in your career, if you had the chance?

LR: Start sooner perhaps, but then I think everyone has their own path and you get there when you get there.

Many years ago, someone said to me ‘quality not quantity’, and as a freelancer that’s not always an option.

You have to pay the bills, but you also need to find joy wherever you can.

Every day is a learning day – so take the time to indulge that and keep moving forward. I’ve been very lucky and hope that doesn’t run out for a while!

Def: What would your number one piece of advice be to people wanting to follow a similar trajectory to yours?

LR: Don’t stop trying, or throwing yourself into scary situations. See above!

Def: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry currently?

LR: The post-Covid gold rush and then post-strikes, it’s been an incredibly intense few years.

I know a lot of people are being stretched very thin due to a lack of work, and I hope they can recover, and not just by volume but with really good material.

The UK is a goldmine of world-class and diverse talent across the board in every department, and that culture needs supporting and sticking up for, domestically as well as on the world stage.

I hope that can be done in solidarity with each other: no one should get overlooked or left behind.

This interview was first published in the April 2024 issue of Definition.

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