Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Introducing Director of Photography Matteo Martignago

 Matteo Martignago is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles with extensive experience in Commercials and Narrative films. 

Interview with Matteo Martignago 

AIM: Please tell us about yourself, what drew you into the industry, and how you got your start.

Matteo: I was born and raised in Rome, Italy and since I was little I have always been passionate about movies. My mum, as a photographer herself, started to teach me about analog photography when I was 5 years old and gave me my first camera for my 6th birthday. I have always been fascinated by the possibility to capture any situation in a single frame at any time I wanted. I was always going around with my camera experimenting and I kept growing this passion for years. I was in middle school when I started to play around with a movie camera, making short films and music videos. I am pretty sure that was what drew me in the industry because I have never stopped making movies since then.

AIM: How important is knowing the script well and why? 

Matteo: When I approach a new project I always read the script several times, every time analyzing something different. My first reading is never as a DP but rather as a mere reader trying to understand and enjoy the story. The second pass is not much different from the first one. The only difference is that I would be taking some notes here and there about some ideas I come up reading. The third pass is usually the one that takes more time and I stop at every scene and take notes about possible looks, camera movements, lighting etc.. Therefore, I think that knowing the script is a fundamental aspect for any cinematographer to have. It allows you to be more creative and to communicate more efficiently with the director and other departments both in pre production and production. 

AIM: What are you shooting with these days, what’s your A list gear? 

Matteo: I personally have two to go cameras and they are the Sony Venice and Alexa Mini LF. I always try to have either of these camera bodies on my project but I always chose my lenses based on the story I need to tell. Some lenses are sharper and colder than others that might have a wormer look. What I usually do is running tests with several lenses I think might fit the story and then choose the best one. Another piece of equipment I always try to include in my project and that really helps to convey a specific look are filters. When I test the lenses, I always bring with me a set of different filters I think might be a great add for the story and shoot some test footage with those as well. When it comes to filters I tend to show the test to the director and together we would choose which one to go for since the effect will be baked in the footage. 

AIM: How do you feel about film versus digital, both in cinema and photography? 

Matteo: I did most of my early photography on film and I think every aspiring DP or photographer should experiment with it. That’s because when you shoot on film you know that you have only 35 exposures and therefore you will plan, study and put more attention to every shot before pressing the shutter. Digital Photography doesn’t put the same pressure on the photographer since now we have almost an unlimited amount of photographs we can take. I think digital opened the door to many filmmakers since shooting in film has always been very expensive and required some technical knowledge as well since you wouldn’t have been able to see what you capture until the next day when the film rolls were developed. With digital cameras many people were able to create and capture stories in a way that were unthinkable before. But I think that even when we use digital cameras, we should always think as we are actually shooting on film and therefore put more attention and study into every single shot.

Find more information about Matteo Martignago at:

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