Denis Villeneuve Was Influenced by Roger Deakins While Making 'Dune', Wants to Make "Something Small" Next

After a long and storied career in Hollywood, Roger Deakins would finally earn his much deserved first Oscar for cinematography with Denis Villeneuve‘s Blade Runner 2049. And though the dynamic director and cinematographer duo won’t be working together on Villeneuve’s upcoming sci-fi film Dune, the filmmaker revealed that Deakins is still leaving his mark on the highly anticipated adaptation of the seminal Frank Herbert novel.

In an episode of the “Team Deakins” podcast, frequent collaborators Villeneuve and Deakins spoke about the lessons they’ve taken from each other during their collaborations on Villeneuve’s Prisoners, Sicario, and Blade Runner 2049. More specifically, the lessons that Villeneuve took from Deakins, who won’t be shooting Villeneuve’s highly anticipated tentpole, Dune — that job will be going to Lion and Rogue One cinematographer Greig Fraser. But though Deakins wasn’t physically behind the camera for Dune, Villeneuve said the Oscar-winning cinematographer was there in spirit (via IndieWire):

“When I am working with you, I’m going to be in a position where I’m going to learn about filmmaking every day. I’m in a learning process working with you. It’s very rewarding and exciting. Right now I am doing VFX on ‘Dune,’ and I found myself talking about light and asking for things and I’m like, ‘I know it’s Roger.’ I know that I can do things [because of Roger].”

Villeneuve added, “I realize how much sometimes the amount of things I’ve learned from you. I’m not saying you’ll agree with me when you see the thing, but I just know of sensibilities that I strongly increased being with you and working on Blade Runner. It was a formative experience. To design the movie from the storyboards until the very end by your side, it’s insane the amount of things I learned.”

Villeneuve and Deakins’ partnership has resulted in some of the most visually striking movies of the past decade, and it always felt like a shame that Deakins wasn’t available to shoot Dune as the pair had originally intended. But perhaps they could reunite for Villeneuve’s next film, which the French Canadian filmmaker said will likely be a smaller affair, as he is beginning to feel the burnout from back-to-back sci-fi blockbusters Blade Runner 2049 and Dune.

“It would be healthy for me to do something small,” the director said. “It will be good to go back to the size of something like ‘Sicario’ where I am not having to dream about the design of a car or the design of a wallet or gun for months before. I can just embrace the scale for what it is. It will be nice to go there.”

The whole episode of Villeneuve and Deakins’ conversation is worth a listen, especially the part where Deakins shames Villeneuve for having several Terrence Malick films downloaded on his iPhone. “For people who don’t know. Roger was traumatized that I had The Thin Red Line from Terrence Malick on my iPhone and Roger thought it was horrific,” Villeneuve said.

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