NFTS alumna and award-winning DoP, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, returned to the NFTS to spend time with the Cinematography students as well as deliver a masterclass to the whole School hosted by former NFTS Head of Cinematography and NFTS Cinematography Fellow, Brian Tufano.
Charlotte was DoP on this year’s Oscar nominated Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington; she was also DoP on the hugely popular, The Girl on the Train, The Hunt and Far From The Madding Crowd. She is also the receipient of the inaugural Sue Gibson BSC Cinematography Award recognises a member of NFTS Cinematography Alumni who has advanced the profession of Cinematography in a significant way.
When asked how studying at the NFTS has helped her career, Charlotte had the following to say: “There are many things! It’s the beginning of a very long learning experience. The School gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and to meet a lot of different people and learn about the different ways of seeing lighting and framing. You learn about who you are within your craft. It’s super exciting to be at a School which has every line of filmmaking and to collaborate with people who are eager to learn and tell stories. Teaming up at the NFTS is such a crucial time to explore what it is to collaborate. The NFTS set me off in a great way thanks to the tutors and Brian Tufano (then Head of Cinematography). They inspired us and challenged our own talent. This School ignites talent; it feels like the heart of who I am and has been fundamental to my career. I’m grateful to have been here and set off my career in this way.”
After graduating, Charlotte did a lot of short films and focussed on fiction. “I love to be dedicated to a story and to be a core part of the storytelling.” A couple of years doing that really paid off as some very exciting directors saw her films including Thomas Vinterberg who then hired her to do his film, Submarino in 2010. Charlotte said: “I’m very proud of the first feature I did with Vinterberg – Submarino – it digs deep somehow. I’m proud of all my movies. For example, the film I did with Denzel Washington – Fences – was a challenge to make cinematic because of it originally being a play. I feel lucky to have made three films with Thomas Vinterberg as well as studio movies like The Girl on a Train and Fences. I’m going to do another project with Emily Blunt next – A Quiet Place - which is very exciting!”
As Charlotte is a fantastic role model for female cinematographers, we asked her what advice she has for women who aspire to be DoPs: “My top advice is to not worry and to not think too much about it. Be aware but if you worry, others will worry. You should just focus on your work. That’s the only way forward. No one needs to do anything extra to make you feel comfortable. Be proud you are doing it in a man dominated business. There are a lot of very talented women directors and DoPs. We want more women, absolutely but in a positive way. People always ask why I’m a cinematographer when my dad was a farmer and my mum a hairdresser. I was 9 years old and taking stills on a camera to tell stories. I didn’t know that was a job. It’s an instinct for me. I love the job so much! Another good piece of advice is to be strong and confident but with charm. Have fun with it! Be positive and believe in yourself.”
If Charlotte, has inspired you, find out more about our Cinematography MA at www.nfts.co.uk/cinematography and apply for the course which starts in January 2019 by the 3rd May.
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