"Passion and hard work always win" An interview with cinematographer Eduard Grau

Best known for his work on A Single Man, Buried and Suffragette, the cinematographer and director Eduard Grau talks to Mandy News about why he fell in love with the camera and how he got involved with his latest film Boy Erased.

19th December 2018
/ By James Collins

Eduard Grau IMDB

Give us a little introduction to yourself and tell us how you fell in love with the camera?
I’m a cinematographer from Spain and I’ve been in love with cinema for a long time. I started thinking about studying cinema when I was 12. It grew into me and I wanted to stay on that dream when I finished high school and went to the Spanish university for film, ESCAC, in Barcelona, which is amazing.

There I discovered that I was interested in all parts of filmmaking but the one that fascinated me the most was cinematography so I specialised in cinematography there.

After finishing four years, I did an MA in cinematography at the NFTS in London for two years. That’s how it all started and that’s how I learnt the craft.

At what point did you move to LA? What was the work that brought you over there?
I was working in the UK and suddenly got this phone call from the producer of A Single Man, Tom Ford’s feature debut. They had seen my reel, wanted to have a chat with me and have an interview with Tom. That’s how I got to jump on a plane from London and go to LA for the first time. 

Luckily enough I got the job and started a career here which is pretty crazy! I never thought that I would be here now but here I am, 10 years later.

Shortly after working on A Single Man, you worked on a film called Buried. Could you tell us a little bit about the process of working on that as there’s a lot of restrictions in terms of how much space you have to film.
For me filmmaking is about the challenge. When I received the call about Buried I was like “what the heck is that movie? Who is thinking of making a movie inside a coffin?” There was something that really excited me and I also thought that there will not be a movie with a human being that is more limited than that.

Everything in Buried happens in a coffin and I felt very challenged and really enjoyed the concept of it. Ultimately, I think that filmmaking is about passion. You don’t do this job for money or because you thought it would be easy. You do the job because you love what you do, because you love filmmaking and because it excites you.

You also worked on Boy Erased which is coming out. How did you get involved with that project?
I’ve been very lucky in my life with the kind of projects that I’ve been asked to do but it’s also about working hard, meeting the right people at the right time and taking chances.

I decided to do a short film about eight years ago with the actor Nash Edgerton and he introduced me to his brother who was preparing a movie called The Gift. When I met Joel I really liked him, read his script (which was really good) and the movie didn’t have a lot of budget but Joel is very clever and I ultimately thought if I don’t get anything from that movie, I hope I make a friend in Joel because I really like that guy.

We did The Gift and it happened that a few years later Joel called me to do Boy Erased. It’s always a joy to work with friends and with people you respect and admire.

Can you tell us how it was shot? The camera and lenses it was shot on.
Boy Erased was shot with a mixture of 35mm and an Alexa. The exterior shots were on 35mm and the interiors were shot on Alexa. We used the Zeiss Superspeed 1.3 classic lighting lenses. We had two sets, one coated and the other uncoated, so depending on the scene we would use the set we preferred. That was it!

When we graded we added the grain. I kind of liked the mixture. There was a thing about the period, 2006-2008, and about it being a real story where the grain helped us tell the period side of the movie. We went for that and also for a very soft palette of textures and colours. It kept it quite minimal and quite reduced and quite simple, most of time.

Do you normally have a preferred kit that you like working with? Or do you like experimenting with new technology and different technology?
I always have preferences and thoughts and obviously the things that you use and you know work are the easiest choices. But I also find it quite exciting when you keep changing and keep learning.

Every movie has a look and you’re looking for something special and different in every movie. I take it as a challenge but also as a part of my job and part of storytelling. Obviously there are certain cameras and lenses that you like more but I enjoy taking the time to choose, to craft the movie and make the right choices for each one.

Are you currently working on something?
I am starting a movie on Monday for Warner Bros. With Ben Affleck acting and Gavin O’Conner directing. It’s going to come out in 2019. So these are exciting times! It’s also the biggest movie I’ve done to date so it’s a learning experience. Very fun!

What advice do you have for young and up and coming cinematographers?
It’s always a tricky question to answer because everyone has their own path. It’s part of the joy of it – finding your own path.

I always find that the filmmakers who work very hard, who are true to themselves and to their passion and who are committed to go further in the amount of time, love and work the put in are the ones who succeed.

Obviously you have to always add the ingredients of luck, social skills and being in the right place at the right time but, at the end of the day, I think passion and hard work always win - well most of the time they do!