Interview with Hollywood Director of Photography – Thomas Ackerman, ASC

I had the opportunity to speak to renowned Hollywood Director of Photography – Thomas Ackerman, ASC (Jumanji, George from the Jungle) – while on set in Munich for the new ‘AliBinAli’ TV Commercial. (Production: Voodoopartners – Producer Axel Breuer)

Here ‘s the transcript of the complete interview – I shot for the official ‘Making Of‘ this production.

“You can come up with the best plan, with a great AD, wonderful production staff, but at the end of the day, there’s no science of it.” – Thomas Ackerman

Thomas Ackerman
Director of Photography Thomas Ackerman, ASC

Alex: I’d like to welcome you on the set here in Munich. You just came from a big movie set and flew directly here to Munich for this commercial. What is the big difference between movie sets in e.g. Hollywood compared to this production here in Munich?

Thomas: I came from working on a movie in Montreal, straight to Munich to work on this production. So obviously there’s a time difference, there’s a cultural difference, there’s a crew difference, to certain extend an equipment difference. But the fact is that I like to mix things up. Obviously the dynamic of a large feature film production whether in Europe, Canada or the US is quite different from a commercial. A commercial is kind of custom crafted, it’s got a very specific setup, creative targets. And it allows you to really break out of a certain way of seeing into a new way of seeing films. That’s what’s exciting about commercials – both as a Photographer and as a Filmmaker. So, the difference is that at a large movie the process tends to be more industrial, larger numbers of people, a lot more equipment, longer schedules. You know – a movie takes maybe 4 months out of your life including the prep time, could be more. Where as a commercial – you get on a plane as I did – fly from Montreal to Munich, get off, meet the key people, look at some locations, and the next day you’re pre-lighting to shoot. So, commercials are immediate, that’s where the excitement is – and everyday there’s a new discovery.

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