Conversations...with Cinematographer, Serge Teulon.


Have you ever watched a film or TV show and thought how stunning it looks? How the use of colour really enhances the visual and cinematic experience?


The person responsible for that beauty is the Cinematographer (also known as the Director of Photography) and in 2015 I worked with one of the best.


Serge Teulon has a distinctive eye for colour and light, and watching him work on the set of One Last Dance was a complete joy, not only for his talent as a Cinematographer, but he's also a great team player and one of the nicest blokes you would want to work with. I was thrilled when he agreed to sit down for a chat.


Lindsey Bowden (LB)

Hey Serge, thanks so much for joining me. How are you?


Serge Teulon (ST)

Hello! Thank you for inviting me. I’m good thanks and you?


LB

I'm wonderful thanks! So, let's dive straight in! For anyone who isn’t sure, can you tell us what a Director of Photography / Cinematographer for film and TV is, and what your responsibilities are?


ST

Sure, to put it as simply as possible, the role means that you are the person who is responsible and oversees everything to do with the photography of a film and/or TV project. My responsibilities lie predominantly with what happens in camera, lighting, gripping and more importantly making sure that it serves the purpose of the Director’s vision and storyline.


LB

How did you get into the industry and was Cinematography always the goal?


ST

I got into the industry because of my love for photography and films. I started as a camera trainee, then became a 2nd AC (assistant camera) which then led me to 1st AC. Cinematography was always the goal from day one. I was fortunate that I knew my direction right from the start.


LB

Same here, I always wanted to be an actor and in the entertainment industry. Didn't quite expect the twists and turns I've had though! So, you work a lot in commercials and music videos as well as Film and TV. Is there a different approach to this work? Can you talk us through how you approach and work through a project?



ST

Whether it’s a film or a commercial the ethos always remains the same. It’s a collective effort. You can’t do this role or in fact any role in our industry without everybody else involved. I find that the creative variants between films and commercials only really lie in the look and the amount of time you’re on that project. My initial steps in any project is reading the script or treatment, followed by a really good chat with the Director where I offer ideas. Things then develop from there. I will talk and connect with the art dept, costume and make-up as soon as I can and then from there I start to think about the technical side, lenses, camera, lighting, gripping etc.


LB

Do you have a favourite project you have worked on? If so, why?


ST

Not really. I do have some which I remember more fondly than others...but I don’t have one project where it superseeds any other. They all come with their own challenges and some are easier to work out and others aren’t. Personally, as long as the challenges are there and they keep me walking that thin creative edge, then I’ll always love that project for what it brought and is.


LB

How much do other departments influence your work on a project, such as costume, make-up or set design?


ST

Massively. They are the details which really help me to create what the Director sees in their head. As the saying goes, the devil is in the detail!


Kate Moss for Stuart Weitzman shot by Serge Teulon

LB

Absolutely. It's the same for an actor. Once you put that costume on it really helps to bring the character to life. You’ve worked on a few monochrome projects, particularly for fashion, with models such as Kate Moss. How does your eye differ when working in black and white film to working with film in colour? Is there a different approach?


ST

Yes, I think so....especially in lighting and colour management. Different colours yield different tones of grey when you shoot in black and white. It emphasises that relationship with the other depts as really key to how you see it and how you’re going to shape with light.


LB

What is the most challenging part of your job?


ST

Budgets. Ha! Making sure that you keep within budget is so important these days. Putting that aside, I think it depends on the project and the people on it. It can be man management and it can also be technical. Not being able to have the right tools can be very challenging to pull of a shot but then in an unexpected way it can also pull people closer together on set. Time management can also be a real challenge. We all know that there’s a difference between a real minute and a film minute.

LB

Oh I know all about budgets, as a Producer it's always the bain of my life! We met in 2015 whilst working on the short film One Last Dance with Jonathan Pryce. For me, it was a tick off the bucket list to work with him as he is one of my favourite actors. What still needs to be ticked off your bucket list?



ST

5 years ago! Wow...feels like yesterday. Definitely working with Mr. Pryce was a tick off the bucket list for me too. He’s one those actors who I’ve always admired and it was amazing to just watch someone with that presence and skill perform in front of your own eyes. It’s stereotypical to praise someone like him but honestly, as you can probably remember, he was such a lovely person to work with. Very giving and understanding of what we were trying to achieve throughout the whole journey. What still needs to be ticked off my bucket list? Well, I feel like I’ve only just started...so there are a few things that I still want to do. I would like to shoot 5 different genres of films - sci-fi, war, autobiographical, thriller and fantastical.

LB

I do remember everything about working with Mr. Pryce, obviously his presence on set was incredible and something special to witness, but I particularly have fond memories of our conversations in the car when I took him home each day. He told me some very funny stories! Oh, I hear you on the autobiographical and fantastical! I have such a passion for creating worlds and really admire people whose minds can literally do that, such as J.K. Rowling or David Benioff and D.B. Weiss who created Game of Thrones. Incredible work. So, Serge, what advice would you have for anyone who wants to work in Cinematography?


ST

Work harder than everyone else. Respect the craft. Be nice. Be respectful and always be prepared to offer something to the director.


LB

That's good advice! Serge, thanks so much for sitting down with me today.


ST

Anytime!


Follow Serge Teulon on Instagram @s_teulon and on Twitter @SergeTeulon Check out Serge's website and body of work at www.sergeteulon.com


Follow Lindsey Bowden on Instagram @lindseybowden76 and Twitter @lindseybowden76


All featured videos shot by Serge Teulon.

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