'Dune: Part Two' cinematographer Greig Fraser likes shooting gritty worlds

Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio on

Published in Entertainment News

Denis Villeneuve and Greig Fraser decided to start by going dark.

The director-cinematographer tandem from 2021 science fiction hit "Dune" were looking for an interesting way to begin its just-debuted sequel, "Dune: Part Two," that would put audiences back in novelist Frank Herbert's influential universe and specifically back on the desert planet Arrakis but do it in a fresh way.

They landed on an eclipse.

And funnily enough," says Fraser during a recent audio interview, "as we were shooting that scene, there was an eclipse in Jordan — obviously not for the entire scene.

"I believe there might be a shot of that eclipse of the sun (using) a long lens."

A native of Australia now based in Los Angeles who is on the phone from London, the renowned Fraser has served as the director of photography for many notable movies, including 2012's "Zero Dark Thirty," 2016's "Lion," 2018's "Vice" and 2022's "The Batman." He's also worked in a galaxy far, far away, shooting director Gareth Edwards' "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" — with, for any real cinematography nerds out there, Panavision 70 mm lenses married to Arri's Alexa 65 — and worked on the series "The Mandalorian," shooting in the show's famed "volume," which uses video game-related tech to create potentially infinite backgrounds.


"Dune," an acclaimed film and box-office hit, and "Dune: Part Two" together serve as an adaptation of Herbert's "Dune," published in 1965.

In a conversation edited for length and clarity, Fraser — who won the Academy Award for best cinematography for "Dune" — talks working with Villeneuve, why he's not all that interested in shooting something that looks shiny and new and whether he'd work on a third "Dune" film, one not yet announced but widely expected to be directed by Villeneuve and adapted from Herbert's 1969 sequel to "Dune," "Dune Messiah."

Q: You've worked with many different directors. I imagine that a director of photography's level of creative input can vary from project to project and director to director. What is it like working with Villeneuve, who would seem to be a strong visual storyteller?

A: Denis is a fantastic storyboarder. He thinks in terms of storyboards, which is fantastic because it gives you a really great head start to understand what's going through his brain when he's talking through a scene. So a scene like the sandworm-riding sequence (in "Dune: Part Two") or some of the battles is kind of (planned) a fair bit in the storyboarding.


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