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Cinematographer Joe Anderson and “Mrs. Davis”
An interview with Joe Anderson, the cinematographer of episodes 1, 2, 5, and 8 of Peacock’s recent hit series, "Mrs. Davis", shows his versatility and creativity. Anderson was drawn to the series due to its unique, ambitious, and fun nature. Despite the extraordinary storyline and range of scenes (including fire-lit medieval crowd scenes, Evel Knievel-style motorcycle jumps, and a volcano of strawberry jam), he aimed to keep the project grounded yet rich and cinematic.
Anderson's initial interest in cinematography began during his childhood, when he realized there were actual people working behind the scenes of movies while watching old Godzilla films. His first feature as a director of photography (DP) was Antonio Campos’s film "Simon Killer", and he has since worked on various projects including "Christine", "The Old Man and the Gun", and the British series "Top Boy".
He was chosen for the "Mrs. Davis" project after the director Owen Harris noticed a shot from "The Old Man and the Gun" where Anderson zoomed in on an earpiece worn by Robert Redford’s character. Anderson's approach to cinematography, aiming to create work inspired by films he loves and that's relevant to the moment, yet can be an artifact for future audiences, appealed to Harris.
In preparation for "Mrs. Davis", Anderson conducted extensive visual research, pulling reference imagery from a wide range of movies and other visual media, in collaboration with Owen Harris. This helped them create a distinct tone for the series that walks a fine line between absurdity and beauty. For shooting the series, he used the Arri Alexa LF Mini with Caldwell Chameleon anamorphic lenses, chosen to make the story feel larger than life and to give a nod towards classic 70s movies that have influenced his aesthetic.