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An Interview with Hagen Bogdanski


Hagen Bogdanski is an acclaimed cinematographer and director. His credits include, The Lives of Others, Papillon, Berlin Station, The Young Victoria, The Physician, and Case 39. I spoke with Hagen about his cinematic influences, his work on The Lives of Others and Papillon, and his upcoming projects.



Did you always think you would go into cinematography? What was your first experience in this line?

Yes, it was a dream come true. Right now I am working as a Director/Cinematographer, which is even better.


Are there any particular films, or cinematographers who have really inspired your work?

Tough question, there are so many films and colleagues. Just to mention a few films: The Godfather 1 and 2, The Conversation, The French Connection, Three Days of the Condor, Apocalypse Now, American Beauty, The Revenant and all Films from Quentin Tarantino (Star Wars: Episode IX was cool ,too). And then DPs: Vittorio Storaro, Roger Deakins, Owen Roizman ,Emmanuel Lubezki and Robert Richardson.

You worked as cinematographer on The Lives of Others. Can you tell me more about this experience, and what was involved during the research process?

My greatest success until now. The film that brought me to Hollywood. The research was big, the budget was not. I searched through all the photos, books and films from East Germany GDR. Also through my own memory as a teenager, because I have been in the GDR with my relatives.

Which scene of the film was the most challenging to capture, and why?

All of them. I loved the script and the actors. I still do…

Can you tell me more about your work on Papillon? Which camera did you use to shoot the film, and do you have a preferred camera/kit?

Arri Mini. My preferred camera kit at the moment. Papillon was nearly 100% handheld and Steadycam. We shot all the rehearsals. Quite challenging for my crew and myself, but very exciting.

Can you think of a shot throughout your career that was particularly challenging to complete?

Again, every shot, also the so called simple ones are important to enhance the director’s vision of the film.

Can you tell me about any projects you’re currently working on?

I am prepping two movies in Germany as Director/Cinematographer, which I hope to shoot this fall. I am also prepping my first international film as Director/Cinematographer, to be shot next year… Life besides Corona is great right now

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