James Laxton

Last updated
James Laxton
Alma mater Florida State University (BFA)
OccupationCinematographer
Years active2003–present

James Laxton is an American cinematographer best known for his collaborations with filmmaker Barry Jenkins, specifically his work on Jenkins' 2016 film Moonlight , for which he won an Independent Spirit Award and received his first Academy Award nomination. "A One-Camera Show: DP James Laxton on Moonlight". filmmakermagazine.com. [1]

Contents

Laxton started his career at Florida State University where he met his often collaborator, Barry Jenkins. The relationship built in college has led them to shoot countless films including the 2016 film Moonlight which was the recipient of multiple awards and nominations since the film's release. After graduating from University, Laxton began his work in the industry by assisting the camera department on features and shorts while also taking on other projects from Directors like David Nordstrom, David Parker, Cole Schreiber and many more. Throughout his childhood he joined his mother onset, this experience being key to his decision to join the camera department. The rhythm of set, how total chaos would ensue and then settle with a single action, only for the director to call cut and for the mania to continue. Moments like this were key in inspiring a young James Laxton to think of a career in the film industry as an option. [2]

Feature films

Moonlight

Arguably his most critically acclaimed film was Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins. The film takes themes of sexuality and explores them in a harsher urban environment. The Cinematography of Moonlight took contemporary film-making and put a new lens on it. With a relatively low budget of 1.5 million dollars, [3] there weren't a lot of resources that were able to be spent on tings like underwater camera gear for example. [4] However, challenges like these made it possible for Jenkins and Laxton to think outside of the box on how they would be able to pull certain shots off. This ingenuity gives birth to the cinematic language of the film and it projects boldly with every scene.

If Beale Street Could Talk

After the commercial success of Moonlight, the next film for the two filmmakers would be a tragic love story between Tish Rivers played by KiKi Layne and a wood artist Alonzo 'Fonny' Hunt played by Stephan James as they meet begin to build a life together until Fonny is accused of a crime he didn't commit. From this point on, Tish is doing every that she can in order to set her love free. With the film being biased on a novel by James Baldwin, there are often times where the cinematography feels "novel-like" this to mean that you often lose yourself in any given scene and how intricately the characters traits and emotions intertwine with one another. "To find and fine-tune the precise visual grammar of Baldwin’s mastery Jenkins followed a process that served him so well with his previous Oscar-winner. One of the keys to “Moonlight” transcending the limitations of its $1.5 million budget – trading docu-realism for crafted visual poetry of the highest level". [5] The language that Jenkins and Laxton created for Moonlight creates a look well beyond the low budget and shed more light on the verite style cinematography.

Filmography

YearFilmDirectorNotes
2008 Medicine for Melancholy Barry Jenkins Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
2010 The Violent Kind The Butcher Brothers
The Myth of the American Sleepover David Robert Mitchell
Karma Adivi Sesh
2010The Last Buffalo HuntLee Anne Schmitt
Sawdust CityDavid Nordstrom
2012 California Solo Marshall Lewy
For a Good Time, Call... Jamie Travis
Leave Me Like You Found Me Adele Romanski
The Murder of Hi GoodLee Lynch
2013 Bad Milo Jacob Vaughan
The Moment Jane Weinstock
Dealin' with Idiots Jeff Garlin
Adult World Scott Coffey
Tradition Is a Temple:
The Modern Masters of New Orleans
Darren Hoffman
2014 Camp X-Ray Peter Sattler
Tusk Kevin Smith
2016 Yoga Hosers
Holidays Nicholas McCarthy Segment – "Easter", also with Bridger Nielson and Shaheen Seth
The Black JacketRyan Simon
Moonlight Barry Jenkins Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography [6]
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Cinematography
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
YouthBrett Marty
2017AnythingTimothy McNeil
2018 If Beale Street Could Talk Barry JenkinsNominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
TBAUntitled The Lion King follow-upBarry Jenkins

Short films

YearFilmDirector
2003My Josephine Barry Jenkins
Little Brown Boy
2005The Unseen Kind-Hearted Beast Amy Seimetz
2009A Young CoupleBarry Jenkins
2010Eggshells for Soil Megan Boone
2012RestCole Schreiber
Mission ChineseDavid Parker
Cole Schreiber
2013Fête des PetsNicholas Jasenovec
Sarah Silverman's Perfect Night Liam Lynch
2014Lemonade War Ramin Bahrani
2015Welcome to the Last BookstoreChad Howitt
2016Bernie Sanders Is the One for MeAndrew Deyoung

Television

YearFilmDirectorNotes
2011FuturestatesBarry Jenkins1 episode – Remigration
2013You and Your Fucking Coffee Henry Phillips 2 episodes
2014RubberheadDean Fleischer-CampTV Movie (segment – "Knickers")
2016Garfunkel and Oates:
Trying to Be Special
Jeremy Konner
Riki Lindhome
TV Movie

Related Research Articles

Cinematographer Chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film

A cinematographer or director of photography is the chief over the camera and light crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.

American Society of Cinematographers

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), founded in Hollywood in 1919, is a cultural, educational, and professional organization that is neither a labor union nor a guild. The society was organized to advance the science and art of cinematography and gather a wide range of cinematographers to discuss techniques and ideas and to advocate for motion pictures as a type of art form. Currently, the president of the ASC is Stephen Lighthill.

Richard Howard KlineASC was an American cinematographer, known for his collaborations with directors Richard Fleischer and Michael Winner. He was a second-generation filmmaker, being the son of cinematographer Benjamin H. Kline and the nephew of ASC co-founder Phil Rosen. He was nominated twice for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, for Camelot (1968) and King Kong (1976).

Dion Beebe A.C.S. A.S.C. is an Australian-South African cinematographer. Originally from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, his family moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 1972. Dion studied cinematography at the Australian Film Television and Radio School from 1987 to 1989.

<i>If Beale Street Could Talk</i> 1974 novel by James Baldwin

If Beale Street Could Talk is a 1974 novel by American writer James Baldwin. His fifth novel, is a love story set in Harlem in the early 1970s. The title is a reference to the 1916 W.C. Handy blues song "Beale Street Blues", named after Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee.

David Russell Boyd, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer and director of television and film known for his role as director of photography for the FOX television series Firefly and the AMC series The Walking Dead. He also worked as cinematographer on the first three episodes of HBO's Deadwood. On the NBC television series Friday Night Lights he served as director of photography on 18 of 22 episodes in the first season and moved up to direct two more. He also directed the film Home Run, which was released in 2013.

Matthew Frank Leonetti A.S.C. is an American cinematographer. Accomplished and highly prolific, he has worked on dozens of well-known and acclaimed films spanning numerous genres, including Poltergeist, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Weird Science, Jagged Edge, Strange Days, and Star Trek: First Contact. He has collaborated with directors such as Tobe Hooper, Walter Hill, John Hughes, Kenneth Branagh, Kathryn Bigelow, Zack Snyder, and The Farrelly Brothers.

Guillermo Navarro

Guillermo Jorge Navarro Solares, AMC, ASC is a Mexican cinematographer and television director. He has worked in Hollywood since 1994 and is a frequent collaborator of Guillermo del Toro and Robert Rodriguez. In 2007, he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and the Goya Award for Best Cinematography for del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. His subsequent filmography runs the gamut from lower-budget arthouse and genre films to high-profile blockbusters like Hellboy, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Night at the Museum, and Pacific Rim.

John Newton Green, ASC, is an American cinematographer and film director best known for his Oscar-nominated collaborations with actor/director Clint Eastwood, taking over from Eastwood's previous collaborator Bruce Surtees.

The Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography is one of the annual awards given by Independent Spirit Awards, a non-profit organization dedicated to independent film and independent filmmakers.

Nathaniel "Nat" Sanders is an American film editor. He is best known for his collaborations with Destin Daniel Cretton and Barry Jenkins. He won Independent Spirit Awards for both Short Term 12 (2013) and Moonlight (2016), as well as being nominated for an Academy Award for the latter.

<i>Moonlight</i> (2016 film) 2016 film by Barry Jenkins

Moonlight is a 2016 American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Barry Jenkins, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. It stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali.

Barry Jenkins American writer and director

Barry Jenkins is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and member of The Chopstars collective. After making his filmmaking debut with the short film My Josephine, he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Feature for Medicine for Melancholy (2008).

The 82nd New York Film Critics Circle Awards, honoring the best in film for 2016, were announced on December 1, 2016 and presented on January 3, 2017.

The 42nd Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, given by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), honored the best in film for 2016.

The 15th Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards were announced on December 5, 2016.

The 31st American Society of Cinematographers Awards were held on February 4, 2017 at the Hollywood & Highland Ray Dolby Ballroom, honoring the best cinematographers of film and television in 2016.

Adele Romanski American film producer

Adele Romanski is an American independent film producer. She is best known for producing the films Moonlight and The Myth of the American Sleepover. Moonlight received eight Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, winning Best Picture for the producers Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner.

<i>If Beale Street Could Talk</i> (film) 2018 film directed by Barry Jenkins

If Beale Street Could Talk is a 2018 American romantic drama film written and directed by Barry Jenkins, and based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name. It stars an ensemble cast that includes KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Brian Tyree Henry, and Regina King. The film follows a young woman who, with her family's support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before the birth of their child.

James Hawkinson is an American cinematographer known for his work in television, music videos, and film. He is best known for his critically acclaimed work on the Hannibal and The Man in the High Castle television series', for which he has received numerous accolades including a Primetime Emmy Award and a nomination for an ASC Award.

References

  1. Pressberg, Matt. "Oscar Nominee Reactions: Meryl Streep Sends GIF, Jeff Bridges Says 'Woo Hoo!'". www.thewrap.com. The Wrap. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  2. Friedman, Illya. "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." The Cinematography Podcast, Hot Rod Cameras/Spotify, 01-08-2020, https://open.spotify.com/episode/4IM2SrtOAFpblygqBx6Kke.
  3. Moonlight , retrieved 2020-04-12
  4. "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". Google Podcasts. The Cinematography Podcast. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  5. O'Falt, Chris (2019-01-09). "If James Baldwin Made Films: How DP James Laxton Translated the Bold Imagery of 'Beale Street'". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  6. "Huppert, 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land' Honored by NYFCC and LAFCA". Backstage.com. Retrieved 2017-01-27.