Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, received the Angénieux ExcelLens prize for cinematography during the Cannes Film Festival last month.
This post looks back at the ExcelLens ceremony, and features video of some of the speeches given by Roger Deakins, the Coen brothers, and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Frances McDormand.
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, holds his Angénieux zoom and is applauded by:
Pierre Andurand, Suzel Pietri, Denis Villeneuve, Agnieszka Holland, James Deakins,
Ethan Coen, Frances McDormand, Joel Coen, Jake Gyllenhaal and Irène Jacob
(photo Pauline Maillet)
The Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography prize was created by French zoom manufacturer Angénieux to honor exceptional directors of photography during the Cannes Film Festival. The first two recipients were Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC, and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC. This year it was Roger Deakins' turn.
The ExcelLens event features a photo-session on Cannes' famous red carpet and an award ceremony with speeches by actors and directors who have worked with the honoree, followed by an elegant dinner for dozens of guests in a pavillion on the beach.
During the ceremony, the ExcelLens winner is given an Optimo zoom lens engraved with his name. Roger received an Optimo 45-120mm from Angénieux CEO Pierre Andurand.
This year, actors Irène Jacob, Jake Gyllenhaal and Frances McDormand, along with directors Ethan and Joel Coen, Agnieszka Holland and Denis Villeneuve, came onstage to pay tribute to the cinematographer. (Villeneuve and Deakins' second collaboration, Sicario, screened in competition at the festival.)
Roger Deakins is one of the most respected cinematographers working today. His distinguished credits include:
1984, Sid & Nancy, Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn't There, Jarhead, No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Skyfall, Prisoners and Unbroken.
Roger has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, but has yet to come home with the Oscar. He has won 3 BAFTA and 3 ASC awards, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASC in 2011.
Deakins accepting the ExcelLens award (photo Pauline Maillet)
I spoke with Roger by phone after Cannes, and asked him about his experience of the ceremony, which included some good-natured ribbing by fellow cinematographers Richard Andry, AFC, and Mike Eley, BSC. He looked back fondly:
I’m always wary of awards; it’s not really my scene. But I really enjoyed it. It was fantastic. Everyone was so nice. You can’t help but feel really humbled by something like that.
We had such a good time. From the first moment, it was really relaxed. At one point, Ethan [Coen] turned to my wife, James, and said: 'I didn’t know this was for Roger to get roasted'. There were some odd funny remarks, but we were among friends.
On the plane going over, I started thinking … I’ve been working for about 40 years. When you’re working, you’re just doing it and enjoying it. You don’t realize how much time is passing.
It was kind of emotional. You don’t often stop and think about your life and the people you’ve met, the friends you have and your past experiences …. I never thought I’d make it past 30, so I’m doing quite well, really."
Below are videos of the tributes given to Roger by the Coen brothers, Jake Gyllenhall and Frances McDormand, followed by Roger's informal acceptance speech. The video is courtesy of my friends at Angénieux and was shot by AVProductions for Thales Angénieux, but also includes some handheld shots I shot of the Coens.
video tribute: the Coen brothers
Roger has made 12 films with the Coen brothers, starting with Barton Fink in 1991, which won the Cannes Palme d'or. Their latest collaboration, Hail Caesar!, was shot in 35mm negative.
Watch on YouTube
video tribute: Jake Gyllenhaal
Gyllenhaal worked with Roger on Jarhead and Prisoners.
Watch on YouTube
video tribute: Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand worked with Roger on Barton Fink, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn't There and the upcoming Hail Caesar! McDormand is married to Joel Coen.
Watch on YouTube
video: Roger Deakins acceptance speech
Roger had written a speech, but ended up speaking off the cuff, recalling a few key encounters with cinema in his life.
Watch on YouTube
Blade Runner sequel
Roger will be shooting his third film with Villeneuve next year, a sequel to the 1982 science-fiction classic Blade Runner, which was directed by Ridley Scott with cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth, ASC.
When giving the Optimo zoom to Roger, Andurand remarked that he hoped the cinematographer would use it on the sequel, and Roger remembers Denis telling him during the ceremony: "We've got to use that zoom on Blade Runner!"
Roger goes on to say:
I loved the original Blade Runner. I love science fiction, and the lighting is great. But the strength of the movie comes from those poignant moments …
When Rutger Hauer's character dies and wonders who the hell he is, that is just fantastic, one of the best bits of cinema. It's all done in close-up.
That's what I love about cinematography, really: looking into an actor's face."
Gyllenhaal laughs with Deakins during the ExcelLens ceremony (photo Pauline Maillet)
wikipedia: Roger Deakins
vanityfair.com: What you should know about Roger Deakins
angenieux.com: Optimo 45-120 zoom
YouTube: 1984 trailer
YouTube: Barton Fink trailer
thefilmbook: Zsigmond Zooms
2014 ExcelLens prize
thefilmbook: Rousselot Receives ExcelLens from Angénieux
2013 ExcelLens prize
Mike Eley, governor of the BSC; Deakins; Richard Andry, vice-president of the AFC; Pierre Andurand, Angénieux CEO (photo Roch Armando)
My thanks to Pierre Andurand, Edith Bertrand and Eva Boulada for providing video of the ExcelLens ceremony, which was shot by AVProductions for Thales Angénieux.
The handheld footage of the Coen brothers video was shot by Benjamin B for thefilmbook.