Shooter of Thrones
Robert McLachlan ASC started out shooting anything he could. Now he shoots anything he wants. Neal Romanek interviews the cinematographer who brought us Game Of Thrones’ “Red Wedding”. How did you get started in the industry? I grew up in Vancouver, Canada in a house that had a rudimentary darkroom. And I had a father who was an artist and a photographer, and there were Super 8 cameras. I always loved using that stuff and started developing my own photos when I was quite young. By high school, I was taking some advanced courses in photography. The day finally comes in high school when you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life. But my father was a bit of a bohemian, and what he drove into my brother and I was that it didn’t matter what you did when you grew up as long as you loved it. And I realised I loved going to movies and I loved photography and it became a question of how to become a cameraman. There were almost no film schools around at the time and very little production in Vancouver that of course has changed a great deal now. So I
made some little independent documentary films and that led to starting a production company which was really to provide myself with things to shoot more than anything. We produced documentaries, television commercials, training films – anything I could get my hands on that would have me shooting stuff.
I think the quality of work k done on Gam me of Throne es has ra adic callly and d fore ever raise ed the e bar in term ms of whatt is ac cceptable cin nematography in tele evision Slowly the company grew, and I did some documentaries with Michael Chechik who ended up being my partner and was working for this young, grassroots group called Greenpeace. So I spent about every moment with a camera on my
shoulder or shooting anything I could. Then when I was about 30, the low Canadian dollar started attracting a lot of American television production and there were openings in dramatic filmmaking. I managed to get into the union as a camera operator, because by then I’d already shot a very low budget feature. By the end of that first union job, the director of photography had moved up to direct, I was photographing this series. And that was my first break. Soon after that I got a Canadian television show called The Beachcombers which was an incredibly good training ground. I was incredibly fortunate, especially considering how young I was. Then that led to getting hired on MacGyver which was the biggest TV show on American networks and since then I’ve never stopped.