Behind the Lens speaks exclusively to Cinematographer Yana Rits. She has worked on feature films and over 100 short films, commercials and music videos throughout her career.
She is currently in preproduction for a a feature film called ‘Black Dollar’.

Can you tell me how you became interested in photography?
It started taking pictures when my parents gave me a nice photo camera for my 15th birthday. The possibility of capturing reality, transforming it and freezing it in time was absolutely mesmerising. The process of hand printing in the dark room added to the magic, so I fell in love with creating images instantly.

You are currently a cinematographer, can you tell me how you started your career?
I actually went to study stills photography at famous Prague Film Academy FAMU. The school has a photography course, but it specialises in film studies. I was curious about filmmaking and started attending film-related classes too, I made friends with a lot of film students and soon enough decided that cinematography will become my profession. I passed the necessary exams and was transferred to cinematography department of the Academy. I had rather good show-reel after graduating, so when I moved to the UK I could apply for small DOP jobs straight away. I also did a lot of freebee jobs to make contacts and after about two years I shot my first feature film, which pushed my career forward.

You have worked on many music videos, commercials and films? Can you tell me more about working on the short film Love Birds?
Yes, I shot quite a lot of music videos and short films. Not so much commercials though. I’d say that my preference is drama in short or long form. Love Birds was created together with a Canadian director Brian Lye. It was our graduation film in Prague, which became very successful, went to multiple big festivals including Sundance and even was sold to a few big TV stations around the world.

Can you tell me about a project that you are currently working on?
At the moment, I’m in preproduction for a feature film called “Black Dollar”. It’s an adventure film about con-artists, which will be shot in Zambia in August-September 2019.

What would be your preferred camera of choice?
We will be shooting on Red with Arri Master Primes.

Can you give any advice to anyone who would like to become a cinematographer?
I would advise young cinematographers to learn to listen to their director and make sure that their cinematographer’s unique vision is accommodated to work for the story and is not enforced upon it regardless of the circumstances.