Interview: Nicola Daley

The Brief

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Nicola Daley is a cinematographer whose recent projects include the documentary Manolo: the Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards and the feature film Pin Cushion, which was nominated for three British Independent Film Awards. She has twice won the World of Women Festival Award for Best Cinematographer, for the short films The Party Shoes and Cockroach, and collaborated on The Saviour, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. Daley has also shot commercials for the FA and Toyota, as well as music videos for artists including Imelda May.

Which visual artwork would you recommend?
Alex Prager’s 3:32 pm, Coldwater Canyon is a cinematic violent yet beautiful still. It’s that perfect captured moment in time that makes you ask what is the story of this frame - what will happen next?

Which high-school film would you recommend?
Pin Cushion, directed by Deborah Haywood, is a dark fairytale about bullying. Brilliantly navigating the line between tragedy and comedy, the film reminds us what it was like to be marginalised at school.

Which fashion photograph would you recommend?
Lillian Bassman’s 1958 photo of Barbara Mullen is a monochromatic feast. A subtle and gorgeous painterly photograph hand-crafted in the darkroom.

Which play would you recommend?
The London National Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America was a breathtaking performance piece for Andrew Garfield (the lead actor). Devastating and so relevant to today’s questions on identity in modern America.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Can colours portray information as effectively as speech?
Absolutely! Colours are also tied to our cultural upbringings and the society we live in. They inform the way we see and interpret the world.

Can we understand a character without seeing their face?
In cinema sometimes the most powerful introduction to a character is the slow track from behind. Body language and a smart camera move says so much.

Rule of Three

The following questions relate to our Rule of Three column, for which each article includes a trio of artworks that share an association with a single word.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Woodlands’ would you recommend?
Each photograph in Gregory Crewdson’s photo series ‘Cathedral of the Pines’ is an elegant depth-of-field window onto a world we are privileged to peek into.

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Belgian painting would you recommend?
‘The Lovers’ by Rene Magritte shows an intimate yet frustrated relationship shrouded in mystery. It’s so powerful and intriguing and always leaves an indelible impression on me long after I have walked away from it.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

For you, is artistic discovery a private or shared experience?
Both. Film is a collaborative art form, yet as a cinematographer you go on a singular journey as an artist. Film is an artistic medium with time constraints, like trying to paint a masterpiece with someone shouting in your ear to hurry up!

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
When do you find your moments of inspiration come the most easily?

More to discover

Nicola Daley: Visit Nicola Daley’s website here and her Vimeo page here. Her Twitter handle is @nicoladaleycine.

Today’s recommendations: 3:32 pm, Coldwater Canyon (image), Pin Cushion (trailer), Lillian Bassman (information), Angels in America (National Theatre trailer), Cathedral of the Pines (article by Tom Seymour for the British Journal of Photography), The Lovers (information).

Also on Silent Frame