The Visual Quill of Nicola De Prato
While many of us experience daily anxiety about how to view the world, Nicola De Prato finds comfort in his perception of it. While cinematographer is the moniker most often used when referring to him, De Prato is a true artist who enjoys discovering the world around him and portraying these ideas through the camera’s eye. Myopic is a description he constantly disproves when it comes to the types of productions he works within. Award-winning films, documentaries, music videos, and the ever expanding world of web-based productions are all canvases for him to explore and with which to entertain a widely diverse audience. He’ll tackle issues ranging from internet stalkers to national holidays and much more. There’s never a shortage of intriguing ways for De Prato to create the visual presentation of a story; it’s this passionate trait that has caused so many in the production industry to enlist him and the benefits of his style.
The horror/thriller genre has a long history of great cinematography. From John L. Russell (Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho) to Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and John Alcott (Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining), these great DPs have influenced generations of the art-form. Fans of these films and the industry have welcomed those who wish to expand the visual language of these types of stories. For Dino Sardella’s Killing Adam, Nicola De Prato manifests the atmosphere of a horror/thriller film which slides into dark comedy. This very contemporary tale of a social media influencer who is stalked by a man [Adam] who has gained popularity by eliminating celebrities, is gritty, frightening, and humorously cathartic. De Prato collaborated with Alexander Schwab (colorist at Technicolor) to finalize the look of this film which was recognized with “Best Dark Comedy” at the New York Film Awards and Top Shorts, the Diamond Award for Best Cinematography at the Mindfield Film Festival Albuquerque, and received the “Award of merit for individual achievement in Cinematography” at the Southern Shorts Awards.
A very different type of fixation was presented in Nicola’s work on the aptly titled Obsession. A deeply artistic statement, the film was designed to allow the cinematography to evolve at a pace congruent to that of the character in the film. It’s the story of a painter driven by passion who pours himself into the process, struggling to find the true perfect presentation within it. Obsession received global praise as an official selection at the Roma Cinema DOC, Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Austin Spotlight Film Festival, and Caribbean Film Festival & Market. As DP, editor, and director of this film, Nicola informs, “While the camera movements are barely visible at the start, everything becomes dynamic and full of adrenaline by the end. The color palette of grays and blues of his atelier collide with the rich greens and golds of exterior scenes. What I was really looking for was contrast between the conflicting forces of creation and destruction. While recreating the light in his apartment, I deliberately used the penumbra to underline the darkness of the protagonist's feelings. I studied a lot of Caravaggio's paintings to be as close as possible to the Chiaroscuro technique. Working with old uncoated lenses gave the project a vintage touch. After editing, I turned my attention to color correction, locking in the look of the film.”
For the documentary Con Giuseppe Verdi Da Maniago Allo Zoncolan, Nicola worked with twice Oscar-nominated director Dante Spinotti (for LA Confidential and for The Insider). The film retraces one of the most challenging cycling races in Europe from Maniago to the Zoncolan. Archival images, interviews, and beautiful naturalistic scenes are accompanied by the music of composer Giuseppe Verdi. Con Giuseppe Verdi Da Maniago Allo Zoncolan premiered at the Friuli Venezia Giulia Auditorium in front of Italian political figures and cyclists from all over the world. Bridging the sounds of one of Italy’s greatest composers to these modern day elite athletes is the poetic look and tempo of this film, courtesy of De Prato and his fellow filmmakers.
The power and influence of web-based entertainment is undeniable in present day. While vacillating in positive and negative contributions, the internet has provided a home for many once ailing art forms like music videos. This musical art-form has been resurrected and returned to its former greatness thanks to the world wide web. With recording labels essentially “hands off”, musicians and artists like Nicola have more artistic freedom available than in decades. As director, DP, and editor of the music video “Ferragosto – Doro Gjat feat. Videodreams”, De Prato shot in Friuli (a northeastern region of Italy) and Paris. An Italian tale which celebrates the return of loved ones living abroad, the video is a romance which led to emigration and has received more than 100,000 view to date.
In addition to his work on the award-winning “Herbalife - Shake your day” web commercial, this cinematographer has an eclectic list of upcoming projects. Ranging from the Feature Film Zoe Obsession, about a psychologist whose search for her sister’s killer takes her too far (winner of "Best Micro Film" at the Los Angeles Film Awards), to the web-series The Cross Country Killer which follows an independent documentary filmmaker attempting to solve a cold case of a serial killer truck driver by interviewing family and friends of the victims. Nicola De Prato’s past and future work reveals the path of a modern cinematographer to be wildly eclectic. While others may push themselves to go out of their comfort zone, De Prato has been proving for quite some time that this is his natural inclination. He revels in the challenges that approach him and ask “What if?”
Written by Kelly King