In conversation with Fabian Wagner

15 April, 2021

Screen and Film School Manchester were thrilled to host an exclusive masterclass for our applicants and enquiries last month with one of the most lauded contemporary Cinematographers working in the industry today: Fabian Wagner.

Best known for his work on Game of Thrones, The Crown, Sherlock and Justice League that have earned him two Emmy Award nominations and the prestigious BSC and ASC awards, Fabian began his career in the north of England on shows such as The Street and The Accused by Jimmy McGovern, DCI Banks and Scott and Bailey.

Joining almost 100 of our applicants on Zoom and interviewed by his long-time friend and our Manchester College Principal, David Thompson, Fabian discussed his career, the advantages of breaking in to the industry from the north, and answered a wave of questions from our 2021 students! Here are some of our favourite insights from this once in a lifetime masterclass.

On making mistakes

“I make mistakes every single day- I always have done and I guess always will do. I think making mistakes is a good thing because you learn from them. Part of the fun and the challenge is that it is a challenge, it’s something new every day.”

How would he get the most out of studying at Screen and Film School?

“A good film school is made by one thing- the people around you and your willingness to collaborate with each other: so get involved!”

Why should someone choose to work in the TV and Film Industry?

“It’s an amazing industry, I always think I’m so lucky to work in film. When I look back on shooting videos in Leeds, I had the best time ever- and I still love being on set more than anything. It’s creative, you work with people and learn from them, you get to travel, you see places you’d never normally see and meet people you’d never normally meet.

On the other hand it can also be a very tough and demanding industry which can really take it out of you. For 20 years my whole life was work and I missed a lot of personal things. Now I’ve got a family of my own I don’t want to miss that much.
But the reason I’m able to take more time for me and my family now is because I just worked non stop in those first 20 years.

You have to put a lot of work into this industry, sometimes 18+ hour days- it can be l tough. It’s not as glamorous or glorious as it sometimes seems. But it’s exciting and there are a lot of opportunities.”

“TV has changed its game, a lot of High end TV is now bigger than many films. This industry is changing, and visual effects are becoming such a big part of it.”

On the importance of the story

“I’m a very visual person. As soon as I read a script I have ideas of how it could look- and of course that will change and evolve. I always want to consider the story.”

The best projects he’s worked on

“I love being on set, I feel at home on a set and looking through a camera. I’ve been very lucky and thankful for all the projects I’ve been a part off. But what I think about most fondly are the early days, these small music videos where we had £500 to make them, and they ended up looking better and bigger. It was a very creative time.”

On how to stand out

“I think a lot of it is down to attitude – don’t be snobby! Be nice to work with. people will employ you based on so many different things and attitude plays a big part. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be assured of what you want and sometimes that means putting your foot down and fighting for something you really want or need. But it’s about how you do that. I’m very thoughtful about how and when I do that, and make sure that I’m offering something too. Be humble. I don’t think I’ve changed because I’ve done Game Of Thrones or got Emmy nominations.”


A huge thank you to Fabian Wagner, our Manchester College Principal David Thompson, and of course all of our wonderful applicants and enquiries for making this a session to remember!


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