On Oct. 9, Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Lawrence Sher (“Joker,” “The Hangover”), visited Dodge College for a screening of “Joker” and a post-film Q&A with students, moderated by Dodge lecturer Carolyn Giardina.
Projecting scenes from “Joker” on screen from his laptop, Sher talked passionately about how he approaches cinematography and shared highlights of his journey from his native New Jersey to movie sets in Hollywood.
Sher didn’t always know that he wanted to go into film. He began his college career at Wesleyan University thinking he would become a doctor like his father, then considered law school and eventually graduated with a degree in economics. But it was his father’s enduring interest in photography — a hobby in which he found more fulfillment than his actual profession — that made a lasting impression on Sher. He vowed to find a job that he was passionate about, which led him to cinematography.
What he’s learned through the years is that preparation is a key component of a successful shoot — not that it’s always easy.
“Prep is…the time I struggle the most; it’s the time I just want to sleep,” he said. “Prep is all anxiety, but shooting is all joy…it’s all the fun stuff because now you’re creating. But you only get to the fun if you do the work before.”
In addition to being an in-demand cinematographer (his next film is “Joker: Folie á Deux”), Sher is also the creator of ShotDeck, a library of high-definition movie images. What started out as a personal collection of curated movie screenshots that he arranged in pseudo-shots for his own film projects became a go-to industry reference tool that helps filmmakers, from “Joker” director Todd Phillips to “Avengers” directors Joe and Anthony Russo, find inspiration for their projects.