Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022
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UT alum Drew Daniels speaks on winning highest prize at Cannes Film Festival, industry experience

Drew+Daniels+at+the+Cannes+Film+Festival.
Courtesy of Drew Daniels
Drew Daniels at the Cannes Film Festival.

UT alumnus Drew Daniels made a name for himself in recent years as a director of photography who takes on dark, challenging projects such as “The Idol” and his work with Trey Edward Shults, director of “Waves.” At the end of May, Daniels’ latest film with director Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”) won the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. The Daily Texan spoke with Daniels about the success of “Anora” at Cannes and his industry experience since he graduated from UT. 

The Daily Texan: What is different about the techniques you employed in “Anora” compared to other films you’ve worked on?

Drew Daniels: Every film requires its own techniques and approach. … My history, my personality, the films I like and the films I’ve worked on all contributed to me being right as the person to shoot this film. … Going to UT was a big part of it. For example, “Red Rocket” was a return to Texas — we shot in Galveston, we were shooting on a 16 millimeter with a tiny crew — very run-and-gun, very DIY. My film school was that similar experience. I’m not sure how it is now, but then (UT’s film program experience) was very DIY. The people coming out of UT — like Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez — those are the people I was looking up to. … That DIY aesthetic, flexibility and ability to change, adapt and just keep shooting … that all came from as early as UT, and that worked out on “Red Rocket” and on “Anora.” 


DT: What was your experience this time around at Cannes, with a film winning the Palme d’Or?

DD: The last time I was physically at Cannes was almost 10 years ago, and it was for “Krisha,” which is the smallest film I’ve ever done, the film with the most heart and the film that kind of put me on the map. So, to go back with a film in competition with lots of buzz and to see it premiere in the main Lumière theatre with a standing ovation and the red carpet, the whole thing was already a dream come true. … It really is special, it has a lot of weight to it. 

DT: How have you navigated industry collaborations since working on those early films?

DD: The main rule for me is that I have to find projects that still feel like a challenge. … So, that can go to any filmmaker. Even if it’s a small film, it has to have heart, it has to be touching in some way, but also, it needs to scare me, to be something I haven’t done, to be something I feel like I can’t even do. … I’ve gotten really lucky, and one thing always leads to the next, so we’ll see how Cannes brings on the next project. … You attract the right people by putting your artistic integrity and your sensibilities out to the world.

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