Screen and Film School Manchester Patron Fabian Wagner, delivers House of the Dragon-inspired masterclass
Earlier this month our Screen and Film School Manchester college patron and world-renowned cinematographer Fabian Wagner spent a day at the Film School delivering an expert masterclass to our students, as well as taking part in an exciting question and answer session.
Everyone in Manchester are always so happy to see Fabian, who was also at our Spinningfields campus for our grand unveiling in February.
Fabian is one of the most gifted and celebrated cinematographers working in the industry today. The talented filmmaking is possibly best known for his work on Game of Thrones, The Crown, Sherlock, Justice League, and most recently the GoT prequel series House of the Dragon, productions which have earned him two Emmy Award nominations and the prestigious BSC and ASC awards.
On the day leading up to Fabian arriving, a rather tense twenty-four hours ensued, with the possibility that he could be booked onto a huge Hollywood production at any minute. Thankfully, he arrived clutching his phone and waiting for the call that would take him to the next opportunity.
At our Manchester campus, the day was set up so that Fabian would spend the morning with the second years, then move on to an open question-and-answer session over lunchtime, followed by a workshop in the afternoon with the first years. Having already met earlier in the year at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Fabian and the second-year students quickly connected. They asked his advice about lighting their films and he showed them techniques that he had used in House of the Dragon.
For the question-and-answer section of the day Fabian had kindly brought a slideshow that included images and videos of his behind-the-scenes work on previous productions. A lot of this content utilises CGI and huge set ups; he invited the students to ask him questions about these techniques and his past blockbuster films. This sparked some fantastic memories that Fabian had about being on set – including taking a Technocrane on top of a mountain in a remote part of Iceland. The production had to build their own road!
In the afternoon, Fabian and the students went back into the studio where we had set up a scene from House of the Dragon, using props which had kindly been provided by our industry partner, Stockyard North. Fabian is praised for his use of natural light in the industry, so we had set up lots of candles and gave him the freedom to work his magic. He encouraged the students to get involved and they worked together on a demo. Fabian was the director of photography on three episodes from the hugely popular 2022 series. Overseeing the following: ‘Driftmark’, ‘The Princess and the Queen,’ ‘The Heirs of the Dragon.’
It was a thrilling interactive session, with the students taking the lead from Fabian but also trying to use their own creative processes. Staff from the Film School were very impressed by the knowledge and confidence of some of the first years, who are only a matter of weeks into their filmmaking journeys. Fabian was very interested in connecting with our students and giving them lots of insight into his career. The students left feeling energised, inspired and full of excitement about their own projects.
David Thompson, College Principal of Screen and Film School Manchester, had this to say about the eventful day:
“It was so exciting to have Fabian with us again. It really does create such a buzz in the whole building here in Spinningfields. And the effect on students is plain to see, they get very inspired, and it raises the bar of what they think is possible. It would be easy for him to just come here to do an interview, but the way he engages in workshops and invites questions makes it an invaluable, thrilling experience for students. I’m very grateful and humbled to have had him here with us again.”
We can’t wait to hear about the next high profile production that Fabian is involved with, and we also look forward to welcoming him back to Riverside Studios in the near future for another expert masterclass.
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