Featured Filmmakers: Rachel Morrison

15th July 2021

Welcome to the second edition of Featured Filmmakers- a monthly series in which Screen and Film School Brighton’s student blogger Lauren Louise takes a closer look at some of the incredible creatives behind the screen. This month we take a look at the work of the brilliant Cinematographer and Director, Rachel Morrison!

Name: Rachel Morrison

Movies: FruitVale Station, Cake (2014), Dope (2015), Mudbound (2017), Black Panther (2018), Seberg (2019)

Skill: Cinematographer/Director

This month’s featured filmmaker is Rachel Morrison. Morrison is a very talented cinematographer known for films such as Palo Alto, Black Panther and Severn- all visually striking films. Morrison has made history three times in three different award categories, being the first woman to be nominated for a cinematography award- and winning two. One of these nominations included an Academy Award Nomination for Best Cinematography, a truly marvellous feat and it’s no surprise why. Rachel Morrison then went on to become the first woman to D.O.P a Marvel film. So how did Morrison achieve such success?

From watching Morrison’s Cinematography one thing is apparent; the truth haunts every frame and her style of filmmaking molds itself to whatever story she is telling at the time, her films aren’t necessarily about looking pretty, although they are visually striking, but mostly about exposing the emotion and feeling beneath the story.

When watching any film lensed by Morrison I noticed that the camera acts as an eye into whatever world is being created. Morrison uses her camera technique to constantly direct the audience’s attention, usually by incorporating movement into the shots by panning in and out of frames. If a character looks at another character we pan over to them rather than cutting to a separate shot. Rachel Morrison doesn’t seem to stick to one type of camera rigging because of how fluid her cinematography is. Morrisons seems to use a balance of tripods and shoulder rigs that allow for naturalistic shots and the ability to fold into a scene.

Rachel Morrsions choice of Digital camera appears to be either the Arriflex 416, which she shot Fruitvale Station and Black Panther on, or the Arri Alexa which Lensed the film Morrison won the oscar for. Morrison tends to pair these cameras with wide anamorphic lenses. When shooting Seberg, Morrison shot Analog on 35mm film using a Panavision Millenium XL2 Camera and matching Panavision C Series Anamorphic lenses, giving the film a stunning unforgettable look with perfectly framed wide shots and colour infused throughout.

The future is undoubtedly bright for this innovative creative, and with a collaboration with Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins in pre-production for the highly anticipated sports biopic Flint Strong, we can only assume that there will be many more award nominations (and wins) on the horizon for Rachel Morrison.

Don’t forget to check back next month for our third edition of Featured Filmmakers!

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