As we conclude our conversation, James Hawkinson correctly notes that HitFix doesn't do many interviews with cinematographers.
While my departing colleague Kris Tapley actually has done a spectacular job interviewing big screen DPs for the site, Hawkinson is almost certainly the first TV cinematographer I've spoken with.
If you're going to talk to one TV cinematographer, though, it's hard to think of a better candidate than Hawkinson, who has shot NBC's "Hannibal" since its pilot.
No matter what Emmy voters may think, "Hannibal" is currently in its third season as one of the most breathtaking visual spectacles on TV. It's a world of richly saturated colors, subtle gradations of darkness, teasing tricks of focus and the ability to get equal beauty out of a flayed body, a tower of corpses or a dinner composed of succulent preparations of "human" flesh. There's really nothing close on TV, like a little weekly art film of nightmares and fantasies that happens to air on NBC once a week. [Note: The interview was conducted before NBC announced it wouldn't be moving forward with a fourth season of "Hannibal," though completed episodes will continue to air.]
Hawkinson's previous TV credits included "Community" and "Arrested Development," but it was his short-form work with David Slade that brought him to the world of "Hannibal." During a brief respite his shooting on the Amazon speculative drama "The Man in the High Castle," Hawkinson and I discussed all of the things he's getting away with on "Hannibal," including the precise colors, the degrees of darkness and the disturbing imagery that keeps making it to TV.
Hawkinson shared fun details about the Norman Chapel heart-stag creature, the extended fight scene that bookended Season 2 and the lines of communication between creator Bryan Fuller, the show's various directors and its regular cinematographer.
It's a good conversation and probably an argument to interview more TV cinematographers. Now if only more TV shows looked like "Hannibal."
Check out the full Q&A...