The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Teaming up with Team Deakins: DePaul hosts weekend of insight, instruction with cinematographer

Linnea Cheng
James Deakins (left) and Roger Deakins discuss lighting setups at DePaul’s “Lighting Faces” workshop at Cinespace Studios on Feb. 10, 2024. The duo worked through scenarios presented by grad students.

Roger Deakins is one of film’s most venerable cinematographers in recent history, frequently collaborating with directors Sam Mendes, the Coen brothers and Denis Villenueve. 

DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts hosted the acclaimed cinematographer along with his collaborator and wife James Deakins in a weekend of events for the college’s Visiting Artists Series (VAS) Feb. 9–11.

Team Deakins, as the duo are referred to, participated in interactive workshops, discussions with students and a Q&A session at the Music Box Theatre after a showing of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Roger Deakins received dual Oscar nominations for the film in 2007 along with “No Country for Old Men. 

The cinematographer’s career spans more than 40 years and includes films such as “Fargo,” “Skyfall,” “Blade Runner 2049” and “1917,” the last two of which won him Academy Awards for Best Cinematography.

Audience members await for the workshop to begin at Cinespace Studios on February 10th. About 200 people attended the “Lighting Faces” workshop, including students, faculty, alumni and local industry professionals. (Linnea Cheng)

Saturday’s “Lighting Faces” workshop hosted Team Deakins along with a couple hundred event goers, including DePaul students, faculty, alumni and local industry professionals.

Located on Stage 21 of Cinespace Studios, a select few DePaul grad students worked with the 16-time Academy Award nominee through various short scenes produced by the students. The Deakinses emphasized the importance of letting the story drive the visual mood and allowing space for the audience to have empathy for the subject. 

Despite the large audience behind him and a few technical difficulties along the way, the English cinematographer did not seem to mind the hundreds of attendees closely watching his every move.

The weekend of Team Deakins events was no small feat for DePaul, requiring dozens of faculty and students to coordinate each event.

“What really stood out to me was what a team effort it was,” said Dana Kupper, a cinematography professor at DePaul. “All the faculty stepped up and took their different roles. And it couldn’t have happened without Wendy Roderweiss initially reaching out to Team Deakins and them saying yes.” 

Wendy Roderweiss led the Team Deakins weekend along with her Live Event/Talk TV Workshop class and numerous other faculty, including Lori Felker, Pete Biagi and Andrew Stasiulis, said Kupper. 

Roderweiss’s two-credit class produces four events quarterly for the School of Cinematic Arts at DePaul. The events are presented in front of live audiences and are telecast online. 

Roderweiss’ class is responsible for planning and working faculty screenings as well as VAS events, such as last quarter’s discussion with “Saltburn” writer and director Emerald Fennell. 

Sydney Sallman, a second-year creative producing student, is in Roderweiss’ class and acted as a floor manager for the workshop Feb. 10. While it was a lot of work to plan four events in one weekend, Sallman said the people she works with make it worth it. 

“It’s such a good group of people,” Sallman said. “Getting to work with this crew is just really inspiring as well.”

Team Deakins attracted DePaul filmmakers from all creative backgrounds as news spread of the husband and wife’s visit to Chicago. 

“I’m just trying to take full advantage of every opportunity DePaul offers the students,” said Grant Stading, a directing student who transferred to DePaul from Oklahoma Wesleyan this past fall. 

Stading said that while directing is his passion, it is still important to attend workshops with industry professionals whose expertise falls outside of his concentration.  

Keiph Oliver (left) prepares to be in front of the camera at Cinespace Studios on Feb. 10, 2024. Oliver was the first of four students to pose for the “Lighting Faces” workshop. (Linnea Cheng)

“I heard nothing but great things about all our students,” said Kupper. “The Team Deakins were super impressed by our students as were the industry professionals that came in and did those setups. They were like, ‘Your students are amazing.’”

The weekend offered more than just a cool opportunity for the students to meet Team Deakins but a chance for students to expand their network as well, Kupper said.

“A huge win is that (the students) got to work with people in Chicago who are working on shows and make relationships that will help them in their future careers.”

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