Aaron Rogers was very recently awarded “Emerging Cinematographer Talent Award 2018” at the annual BSC Emerging Cinematographer ceremony for his outstanding work on ‘Pommel’, directed by Paris Zarcilla. He has also been awarded the honour of taking part in our first ‘Cinematographer In Focus’ feature! We have had the pleasure of working with Aaron, and looked forward to getting to know more about this exciting emerging talent
When did you discover you wanted to be a Cinematographer?
When I was studying at South Downs College in Portsmouth, I watched an Australian short film called ‘Apricot’ which was directed by Ben Briand and shot by Adam Arkapaw. This was the first time I recognised the distinction
between a Director and their Cinematographer. It was a clear re-wiring of my motivation and objectives and how I could become captivated by visuals that led me to fall for the story. Which, as my knowledge of the industry developed, I realised what is required for the role of a Cinematographer. I began things working in the lighting department as a spark.
Apricot taught me that for any of my project choices, I must believe in the characters. It’s essential that I can relate to them in some kind of capacity, even at a core level. When I have been lucky enough to be involved in a script where I can relate to the characters as described, I feel like I have created much stronger work as a result.
Can you describe your style?
My contrast ratio’s are very important to my approach to lighting so dependant on the scene this can fluctuate in intensity. I guess my style could be described as quite dark, which I’ve been told at times can sometimes be too dark… Ultimately, I am often inspired aesthetically by what is left unlit/the darkness of a composition.
Who are your inspirations?
I really enjoy Conrad Hall’s work for his stunning approach to hard lighting, silhouettes and development of lighting across a scene. I often find myself tinkering with small fresnels, boxing them up, rigging them in tight spots, or creating shafts of light for hard keys, backlights or addition interest in the room, similarly to how Conrad worked. I also connect to Bradford Young’s material for how he underexposes and how emotive the darkness of his images are. Also when I met him at the BSC show a few years ago I was truly inspired by how humble he is and seemingly unaffected by the hype around his incredible work. This industry is about relationships, no matter where you are in your career and I always try my best to adhere to being a positive energy on and off set, supporting the directors, producers, rental houses, crew and friends all throughout the process of making a film together…and at the pub.
Also, my wife, Sara is an absolute force! Among so many things she is my support system, balancer and keeps me focussed on the correct journey and where she knows my aspirations lie.
Can you describe your ‘game face’?
I have been told my working face can be hard to read sometimes but is a defiant mix of confidence and determination. In actual fact, for the most part I’m freaking out inside and trying to hide it! I love the pressure and the problem solving nature of our work which I have found tends to whittle out the unnecessary additional light, or complicated camera movement and focusses more on the importance of the stories we are supposed to be telling.
What will always come off the camera or lighting truck?
650’s and silverboard. To give you an idea a Gaffer I work with, Kupa Warner nicknames a 650w fresnel an ‘Aaron’, so much so that his Sparks know what to grab from the truck when he asks for one. Humbling I guess!
What is a Director getting from Aaron Rogers?
An attentive collaborator that isn’t precious and serves the stories first and foremost. I hope that they’d agree!
What do you like from a Director?
I absolutely love it when a director lays down the ground rules and aspirations for the project. One who allows me to offer adjustments, trusts me to execute it and is constructive when they would like additional improvements to my initial attempt. When the relationship feels like a team effort and that you are both striving towards the best you can give at the time, it is an incredible feeling once you have something tangible from that process.
What would your Focus Puller say about you?
It depends on whether we are working on a drama or commercial! On a drama I love working in low light so I am unlikely to give them much light if I can help it. And wide open for good measure! On a serious note, I respect the role greatly and listen to their advice on the optical performance or sometimes lack of, as I love vintage glass and strong filtration. I’d like to think that they enjoy the process as most of the focus pullers I work with have become very good friends who I value them greatly.