For almost his entire career, Paul Thomas Anderson has aligned himself with the great Robert Elswit. The acclaimed cinematographer has shot every Anderson picture to date, with the exception of “The Master” which was lensed by Mihai Malaimare Jr., and the documentary “Junun,” which was essentially assembled from footage from a variety of consumer-grade digital cameras. Clearly, Anderson has been paying attention and taking notes, because for his upcoming, tentatively titled “Phantom Thread” he shouldered one more responsibility in addition to writing and directing the picture.
Indiewire reveals that Anderson himself is the cinematographer on Daniel Day-Lewis‘ final film, marking his first time credited in that department since his early short, “The Dirk Diggler Story.” It’s certainly a daunting task having to think about lenses and focal length and no shortage of technical requirements, but according to those on the set, he was well-versed in the craft.
“He knew not just the focal length, but the actual characteristics of that particular lens,” camera department member Matthew Mebane said. “He honestly was the most camera-savvy director I’ve ever worked with, and that was apparent right off the bat.”
It’s not a big surprise that Anderson would be so knowledgeable about the ins and outs of film cameras and equipment, given his deep love and passion for the medium. And he joins a select, and small group of filmmakers, such as David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, and Steven Soderbergh, who have opted to take visual matters into their own hands from time to time (the latter in particular generally prefers to man the camera).
For a movie that already intrigues as Day-Lewis’ last movie, “Phantom Thread” now has another interesting footnote as Anderson’s DP debut. We’ll see how it turns out when it opens on Christmas Day.