Damian Daniel: Brits to Watch

Cinematographer Damian Daniel is one of BAFTA's 2011 Brits to Watch, an initiative showcasing new British talent to the international industry.

His credits include short film From Basho and This Is Your History.

What first inspired you to get into your craft?

I was given a Super 8 camera as a present one Christmas. I love the Super 8 format and still shoot with it. I try and include it in as many projects that I work on as possible.

How did you first break into the industry?

I got into the industry by working as a floor runner. I didn’t come from a photographic background and didn’t have a clue about the film and TV industries. It was a friend of mine who had just started working in a camera facility house who told me that the best way in was to approach production companies and ask to be taken on as a runner. I spent a year working on the sets of game shows, pop promos, commercials and dramas. I worked in several departments before being drawn to cameras. I worked my way up from camera trainee to loader and focus puller before making the leap to lighting cameraman.

Which professional figure in your field do you find the most inspiring?

I love the work of Ernest Dickerson, Spike Lee’s cinematographer who shot Do The Right Thing and Mo Better Blues. I’m also a big fan of Barry Ackroyd for his work with Nick Broomfield and Ken Loach.

If you hadn’t managed to break into your field, what was your plan B?

There was never any question of a plan B; I’m doing everything I can to make it happen.

Which film(s) do you wish you could have worked on?

I would’ve loved to have shot La Haine and City Of God.

What single piece of advice would you give to a young person trying to break into your discipline and get noticed?

Always show enthusiasm, passion and take a real interest in how things on TV and in the cinema are shot and lit. Also be prepared to do more than is necessary.  If you can get your hands on a camera, any camera, shoot as much as you can.

How important is knowing people? Is raw talent enough?

Knowing people is very important. As a DoP you should try and get to work with as many different directors as possible. Some you will get along with, others you won’t, but each will have different ideas and it is the only way to keep getting experience and developing your craft. It is now very easy now to get your work online and seen by many people but ultimately, it doesn’t matter who you know, if your work isn’t any good.

How do you think the UK film/TV/games industry will change in the next few years?

Technology is having such a big impact on the industry, so it’s going to be crucial for people working in the camera department to keep up-to-date with new developments.

Damian Daniel

View Damian's IMDb profile

Brits to Watch Portrait: BAFTA/ Barry J Holmes