Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd Discusses Oscar Winner The Hurt Locker

Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd

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With a slew of Oscar nominations at the 2010 Academy Awards, The Hurt Locker certainly has earned its spot in the world of motion pictures. With wins including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, as well a nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Actor, this film certainly has a long lost of accolades behind it.

The film’s cinematographer Barry Ackroyd discussed the film, and his experience behind the helms. Though part of dozens of other films, it’s The Hurt Locker that is a highlight on his resume, considering the fact that it received so much recognition, and the fact that his partners n the set were award winners themselves, including Kathryn Bigelow, the first female director to win an Academy Award in that role.

The Manchester, England-born cinematographer is known for developing an earthy camera and lighting style on his films. He’s worked with director Paul Greengrass on a number of films, including Greengrass’s United 93, and Green Zone, starring Matt Damon.

While teaming up with Bigelow on the film, Ackroyd successfully conveyed the reality of the film’s Iraq war setting, while developing the material to needed for the varied perspectives that Bigelow’s refined method to composition called for.

Ackroyd says that Bigelow wanted to run 4 cameras at the same time, and decided to shoot on Super 16mm. He claims that his predominant background lies within the “the single-camera shooting process, and believes that both multi- and single camera are both great ways of creating films.

Ackroyd says he and Bigelow used the logic deep-rooted in the work of a bomb-disposal team when it came to the shots in The Hurt Locker. They would position the Humvee 150, 200 degrees from the bomb. The right shots are critical in order to allow the editors to do their job as skillfully as possible.

When it came to the lighting, Ackroyd believes in lighting the scene, rather than the shot itself. This offers the benefit of giving the actors some space from start to finish. His particular approach to The Hurt Locker would include avoiding lighting if possible during daylight hours, and using efficient light as a source during nighttime shooting. He avoided using too many pieces of technical equipment when possible. Instead, he used things such as Chinese lanterns placed in drainpipes. He’s constantly coming up with ways to provide light to a scene without having to actually see it.

Ackroyd has an affinity for Fuji stock, and has been using the brand for the couple of decades.

Ackroyd says, “if you are a cinematographer, you don’t want to repeat things, but you should have a signature. And that signature should carry on.”