Meet the Crew – Cinematographer Tobias Deml

Our very talented director of photography recently immigrated from Austria. We’re very excited to have Tobias Deml in the Bay Area to film Other Halves.

What made you decide to become a cinematographer?

Tobias Deml

Tobias Deml

I got into cinematography accidentally, through directing really: I did the cinematography for a friend of mine, and people loved it. After I got asked to shoot some of their student films, I got an increasing amount of commercial offers, so then I just found a whole new world of possibilities out there. I come from a photography and CGI background, so cinematography was a logical extension of these visual sensibilities, and I loved the extended freedom that I had with motion pictures. I love lighting and camera movement, and my daily experience of the world is really shaped by my obsession with it – I see and analyze lighting everywhere.

Have you had any formal training in cinematography?

Not really; I had a film program in community college, but picked up most of the knowledge on set by being a cinematographer on increasingly bigger projects. I constantly keep learning by reading, watching and studying tutorials and films.

What’s the first project you shot?

It was a Pontiac Firebird 1992 mock commercial – which happened to be my car. It was a 2-man, 2-day madness in the Mojave desert, and really got me going to be hungry for more.

What other projects are you really proud of?

There’s a cool horror feature film that I can’t talk about yet, which I shot a while back. I shot a Western (“What Have I Done”) once, which really propelled my skillset to another level. A short film that I am really proud of is a postapocalyptic Sci-Fi short (“Phoenix 9“), where I probably had more preproduction than on any project before. Another short (“LA Stories“) I shot in one [digitally merged] shot with 14 rooms lit simultaneously. That was an amazing experience.

How did you get involved in Other Halves?

Toby far away

Tobias Deml

Kelly, one of the producers, told me about the project. I then skyped with Matt after having read the script, and his thoughtful approach to filmmaking, the horror genre, feminism and visuals made me a believer in the project.

What is your shooting process like?

Preproduction is everything; I think that’s a common mantra. I try to really understand the emotions of characters so that I can be a conscious agent on set that tries to help tell the director’s story – not just a lighting and camera dude. My planning helps me deal with all the stuff that will inevitably go wrong, and lets me realize more complicated ideas that I couldn’t get on the spot.

As a DP, how do you approach post-production and color correction?

I like to “feel” color grading rather than using vectorscopes too much. My approach to color grading is an impressionistic one; I try to visually recreate the emotion that I had when watching the scene happen on set.

Tobias Deml

Tobias Deml

Tell us about some of the other projects you have coming up.

There’s an exciting Kickstarter for an autonomous drone in the works; I’m possibly shooting a feature film in Bolivia or Mexico, and there’s an exciting multi-continental documentary film about art on my cinematography list.

Now that you’ve seen the script up on its feet with the actors, how do you feel about Other Halves?

Excited – the team spirit and constructive criticism was really vibing on the first table read and Skype meeting, so I have high hopes!