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James Laxton, ASC on Best Picture winner Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk: working with Barry Jenkins and Kevin Smith, his early career and influences

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The Cinematography Podcast Episode 63: James Laxton

James Laxton grew up around movie sets. As a kid, his mother, Aggie Rodgers, was a costume designer for several George Lucas films, such as Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. He would often hang out in the camera department and was intrigued by the dynamics of the film set. At Florida State University film school, James met Barry Jenkins and David Mitchell, among other talented filmmakers who still collaborate on each other’s films. James worked steadily on several small and acclaimed movies before he and Jenkins had such a huge breakout success with Moonlight, winning Best Picture in 2017. The two followed up that success with If Beale Street Could Talk, which had only a slightly larger budget and resources than Moonlight. If Beale Street Could Talk also won several awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Regina King.

James Laxton is currently shooting The Underground Railroad, a limited television series for Amazon directed by Barry Jenkins, which is an adaptation of the Colson Whitehead novel.

Find James Laxton:

Instagram: @mrjameslaxton

Episode Sponsors:

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Close Focus discussion: The short-run TV phenomenon, such as Watchmen, which will not have a second season. Some stories are finite, and there is no reason to explore them further.

Illya’s short end: ShotDeck, as mentioned in our previous interview with Lawrence Sher who has been using the beta version of the software. ShotDeck is a great way to create previs images and looks for your project. It’s an invaluable time-saving resource and collaborative tool that makes life easier for anyone working in the Film, Media, and Advertising industries.

Ben’s short end: Cinecom, a group of Belgian filmmakers on YouTube who like to do tutorials on how to replicate different effects and shots from movies.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz

Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman
@hotrodcameras instagram
@illyafriedman instagram

Ben Rock:  @neptunesalad twitter
@bejamin_rock instagram

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben Katz
Composer: Kays Alatractchi

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