I came up, I suppose, a fairly traditional way. I went to art college. I always wanted to be a stills photographer, really, when I was younger, and I briefly worked as a stills photographer.
When I left art college, I was a still photographer for a year.
I'd done a big movie that I wasn't happy with, and I was moving out of London when I got approached about Barton Fink, because my agent said the brothers were in London. We hit it off immediately, and suddenly I found myself on the way to America!
I did a few documentaries as co-director and cameraman. I started off shooting a film about the war in Rhodesia. Then I did a film about an 'around the world' yacht race with a friend, and we spent nine months on a yacht. The film was about how people get on in confined spaces under extreme stress.
The biggest challenge of any cinematographer is making the imagery fit together of a piece: that the whole film has a unity to it, and actually, that a shot doesn't stand out.
People confuse 'pretty' with good cinematography.
I don't really believe in the mystery of cinematography - what happens in the camera is what the cinematographers create and all that nonsense - I want the director to see what I'm trying to do.
I shot film with the Coen brothers on 'Hail, Caesar!' That's fine. I'm sentimental about film; I've shot film for forty years or something.
If I bring anything to the Coen Brothers' films, it's my ability to change tack and create a different mood from film to film.
If you shoot with a billion cameras, then there's no perspective. You want to use one shot at a time, so it's better to discover what that is before you shoot, rather than trying to make something in the cutting room, and then it just becomes generic.
The little town I was brought up in, I'd go to the film society to these very extreme sorts of films that you wouldn't normally see in the movie houses. But I never dreamed that I would get into the position to be shooting movies equivalent to the ones I loved as a kid.
I love everything that Cormac McCarthy has written.
There's nothing worse than an ostentatious shot. Or some lighting that draws attention to itself, and you might go, 'Oh, wow, that's spectacular.' Or that spectacular shot, a big crane move, or something.
What's seemingly a simple thing can actually be the hardest to achieve.
There are some sequences in films that I think work filmicly, that stand out to me, but that's much more to do with the staging and the cutting and the mood of the thing as a sequence, the way everything comes together.