If you’re in love with the particular style of Wes Anderson, then you’re in love with the work of cinematographer Robert Yeoman. Yeoman has shot every single live-action Wes Anderson film from BOTTLE ROCKET to THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, and it all started with a letter. But we’ll get to that.
Yeoman began in the film industry as a production assistant who worked his way up to gaffer and second unit photographer before landing his first lead D.o.P. gig in 1983 on Alexandre Rockwell’s HERO. After that he built a solid resume working on films for William Friedkin (RAMPAGE) and Robert Downey Sr. (RENTED LIPS) among others before getting his first real break on Gus Van Sant’s DRUGSTORE COWBOY, for which Yeoman’s cinematography earned him an Independent Spirit Award. This award opened larger doors to Yeoman, but it was a filmmaker no one had ever heard of who would prove the most fruitful of collaborators.
After seeing DRUGSTORE COWBOY and while developing the script for his first feature, BOTTLE ROCKET, Wes Anderson wrote a handwritten letter to Yeoman expressing his love for the film and Yeoman’s work, and asking him to read the script for BOTTLE ROCKET and, if he liked it, to meet with the young director. It would turn out to be the best meeting of his career, which recently hit a crescendo with his first-ever Oscar nomination, for Anderson’s THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.
Along the way Yeoman has of course worked with other notable directors including Kevin Smith (DOGMA), Wes Craven (RED EYE), Drew Barrymore (WHIP IT) and others in Anderson’s crew like Roman Coppola (CQ) and Noah Baumbach (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE). Most recently he’s become the go-to cinematographer for Paul Feig, for whom he’s shot BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT, SPY, and a little film soon to be released that absolutely no one is talking about, GHOSTBUSTERS.
In the latest Understanding Cinematography video from wolfcrow and Sareesh Sudhakaran, the cinematography of Yeoman is broken down into its stylistic elements to discover just what makes it so fantastical and versatile.