Rasmus Heise is the cinematographer of the Netflix Original series “The Rain” and the drama/fantasy feature film “I Kill Giants”. The Danish DOP started out working on a string of short films including Oscar-winning family drama “Helium”.
Matthew Toffolo: Where were you born and raised? Was photography something you always wanted to do as your career?
Rasmus Heise: I was born in Copenhagen and raised in different cities around Denmark. I picked up a VHS camera at summer camp, age 13, and did a short film starring my sister. I overheard some adults prasing my work. That never left me. It wasn’t untill I was around 21, that I fund out that cinematography was what I wanted to do. I was taking the 8 months course at the European Film School in Ebeltoft, Denmark. This is where I met the people that I would go on making short films with for many years ahead. Later I studied cinematography for 4 years at the National Filmschool of Denmark in Copenhagen.
What has been your most proudest work of your career? Or, what has been your favorite project to date?
The first real big challenge was the two final episodes of the TV show called “The Protectors” (Livvagterne, Denmark, director Mikkel Serup). We had to shoot locations in Denmark and Marocco and studio in Denmark. It was a big challenge making it all flow seamlessly, and I think we did a great job. In more recent times I’m very proud of I Kill Giants. A huge challenge for everybody involved. Shooting a challenging script in only 35 days in two countries and with many cgi and in-camera effects. I’m also proud of the work on the Netflix show The Rain. I shot 4 episodes for director Natasha Arthy. We had a huge amount of stuff to do, and very little time. But somehow we and the hardworking crew made it work.
Tell us about the film I KILL GIANTS. How did you get involved in the project? What makes this film unique?
I have worked with director Anders Walter for many years. I have shot about 20 music videos and 4 short films for him. After our short film Helium won an Oscar for best live action short, things started to happen. He was offered to direct IKG, and I jumped on the project with him. The american producers didn’t know me, but luckily I had shot the first season of Amazon Studios’ show Hand of God for director Marc Forster. So they called him up, and he must have said something nice about me I guess 🙂
The film is based on a really beautiful graphic novel from 2008 by the same name. It’s a very beautiful story, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of making it in to a movie. I want to thank producer Kim Magnussen for also helping me get onboard.
Is there a type of film/TV show that you love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet?
I would love to make something gritty. A twisted thriller.
What are you generally looking for in a director in order for you to do your job as best as possible?
It’s all about being on the same page I think. I always try and spend time getting to know each other. The better I know someone, the better a job I tend to do for him or her. I love directors who has a vision, but are not afraid to let go and let the project take you somewhere you hadn’t planned.
What do you think a producer/director is looking for when they bring on you to DP the film?
I know my craft, and I work fast! Haha. I know that many producers like it. I think directors likes me, because I can work in many genres and maybe also because I’m easy to talk to. I see my job as becomming the directors best friend, and I try to be the best collaborator in every way. I want to help the director, but also challenge him or her to push the project to become even better.
What is your passion in life besides photography and film?
These days it’s my beautiful family. They are amazing every day.
What movie have you watched the most times in your life (besides the ones you worked on?
I have MANY favorite movies. My all time favorite is Heat by Michael Mann. Have seen that so many times. My biggest dream would be DP-ing a movie directed by Michael Mann. Or PT Anderson. Or David Fincher. Or Marc Forster. Or.. well the list is very long.
What advice do you have for young cinematographers who would eventually like to DP movies for a living one day?
What you need is collaborators. Find like-minded people. Learn and grow together. Film school is not essential. But it’s a great place to learn from your mistakes without anybody out in the film industry noticing you screwed up. So if you don’t get into film school, or don’t have the money for it, find another way to get experince and learn. Make non-budget shorts or do music videos or art projects. Go to a film work shop or find collaborators some other way.
Please follow me on instagram: rasmus_heise
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.