Mentored by Oscar Winner Walter Lassally, Lenser Petros Antoniadis is a True Pioneer of Modern Cinematography
Antoniadis claims “pre-visualization is a skill set that I’m constantly developing”
Talk. About. Being inspired.
Greek-born cinematographer Petros Antoniadis is rightfully proud of the dozens of awards that the brilliant film he lensed, Flickering Souls Set Alight, has earned. But as Antoniadis makes further inroads into the hallowed halls of Hollywood cinematography, he pays homage to Walter Lassally, the Oscar-winning pioneer and one of the leaders of the “Free Cinema” wave.
Indeed, Antoniadis, who has earned cinematography awards not only for Flickering Souls Set Alight, but also for Heimlich, and The Spectator, was mentored by Lassally, when the veteran lensman retired to Antoniadis’ Greek hometown of Chania. Lassally, who shot his Oscar-winning film Zorba the Greek in this town and was also a customer of young Petros’ pharmacist mother, enthusiastically recalls how the legend “took me by the hand to introduce me to the world of the silver screen.”
So, looking back, Antoniadis vividly says: “My mother befriended Walter, and every Wednesday our family went to his home to watch a film of his choice followed by a conversation about its story, and the emotions that each shot was evoking. Of course, the cinematography and the technical aspects were always a part of the discussion but the main focus always remained the film as a film, as one piece of storytelling art. Through these conversations I began understanding the art form while my aesthetics on cinematography also started being developed.”
While Antoniadis went on to study in the Audiovisual Arts school at Ionian University in Greece where he’s also now honored to have returned to instruct workshops on Cinematography, his mentor was always by his side.
Antoniadis, who was also inspired early on by his photographer/artist grandfather Petros Vlachakis who created the iconic “Battle of Crete” painting, continues with his Lassally story:
“Over the years, the legend that was Walter was always next to me when I was shooting, ready to discuss the story deeply, listen to my ideas, break them down, agree with some, disagree with others but always there to guide me on the next steps. He also introduced me to many of his friends in the industry, and gave me the fortune to meet and discuss with legendary filmmakers like Haskel Wexler—an American cinematographer, who earned two Oscars for cinematography and who was known for Cinema Vérité."
Above all, who wouldn’t have benefitted from that sort of mentorship. For example, at the world premiere at the 2019 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, Flickering Souls Set Alight won the Orpheus Audience Award for Best Short. The producers Iakovos Panagopoulos (director) and Petros Antoniadis (cinematographer) received the award while dedicating it to all the families that suffer from ALS, a debilitating disease. Additionally, for Antoniadis, he adds, “I believe that Walter Lassally never left me, as we developed a true and deep mentorship that I was blessed with for so many beautiful years. He is ‘still here’ discussing with me, always about the film itself.”
Indeed, the list of awards that Antoniadis has racked up to date are impressive. He has earned Best Cinematography for Flickering Souls Set Alight from the Canadian Cinematography Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, European Cinematography Awards, Los Angeles Cinematography Awards, and the Asian Cinematography Awards, Additionally, he has earned Best Cinematography at several festivals, including: at the Paleochora Lost World Short Film Festival for the film Without Milk; at the Athens International Digital Film Festival for the film Heimlich, and also at the Athens International Digital Film Festival for The Spectator. The Spectator also earned Best Short Film at the London Greek Film Festival; and Best Cinematographer at the New York Cinematography Awards.
Additionally, Antoniadis has lensed dozens of international projects from high-profile television adverts (for ASUS: Zenbook Duo 14, and for Madama Butterfly for the Greek National Opera), to premium corporate promos (for luxury hotel Grande Bretagne), along with inventive music videos, like “Kapote” (“Someday”) for Greek singing idol Panos Mouzourakis.
One of his standout TV commercials was for Ecos, an international company and one of the most awarded cleaning companies on the planet. The “ECOS: The Artist” Earth Day commercial, which featured Antoniadis’ lensing, focused on celebrated artist Velia De Iuliis “changing the picture” for a better and cleaner world.
In addition, Antoniadis says of the “pre-viz” work he did on this commercial and which applies to pre-viz on all projects: “Pre-visualization is a skill set that I am constantly developing. I’m a big fan of right prep as I believe this is where a project is really ‘shot’ (with or without pre-viz). The more meticulous and detailed the prep is, the more freedom I feel on set.”
Similarly, he talks of pre-viz work he did on actor/writer Maiara Walsh’s upcoming feature film Bight: “I was honored to be Maiara’s (The Vampire Diaries) choice for lensing the film. But the shooting time was extremely limited and we really had to make sure that Maiara, who was also acting in Bight, and I were precisely on the same page. This was a key reason we decided to ‘shoot’ the film in prep and to pre-visualize every single shot of it, using Cine Tracer, a real time cinematography simulator.”
In fact, apart from doing pre-viz for both commercials and films, he notes other similarities, saying that he is “more than happy and honored to lens both types of projects.” He further explains:
“When it comes to commercials versus film, viewers make a choice to watch a film, which makes them positively predisposed. On the other hand, almost no one chooses to watch a commercial and this ‘fed with force’ makes viewers negatively prejudiced. So, while a film usually has a lot more time to ‘win’ over viewers, commercials have to gain the maximum interest in just the first few seconds. Therefore, the first frames have to be extremely captivating and heavily connected to the mentality of potential consumers. I’m always intrigued by their differences and absolutely adore their similarities: to visually capture and transfer emotions.”
As for his strengths, Antoniadis humbly offers: “I believe that a cinematographer’s best asset is his unique eye, and artistic approach. I trust I have a combination of strong technical knowledge, great organization and communication skills as well as team-spirit and problem-solving mindset in order to successfully execute the vision. These are the strengths that I am doing my best every day to keep on building upon.”
In conclusion, he admits it’s all about storytelling from films, to commercials and videos: “My greatest goal is to make a 24fps contribution to the advancement of new approaches in visual storytelling. In the end, a well-written script and a story that can speak to people from all walks of life will also lead to one of the most memorable moments I will always keep in my heart—the tears that burst from all of us when we call, ‘It’s a WRAP!’”
Drop in on Vimeo where the multi award-winningFlickering Souls Set Alight is now publicly available online. Check out Petros Antoniadis’ website, his Instagram, his IMDb page, and also his awards listed at IMDb.