Cinematographer Chris Teague works at the intersection of creativity and logistics, artistry and technical details. He is a Northeastern alumnus who has now worked on several notable television shows, including Netflix’s Russian Doll, HBO’s Mrs. Fletcher, and Comedy Central’s Broad City – where he has the opportunity to feel challenged, push boundaries, and embrace creativity. The work is fast-paced and the days are long, but being able to take risks and experience a piece of art coming together makes it all worthwhile.
“As a cinematographer, the work itself is very creatively rewarding,” Chris described. “Striking a work/life balance can be tough, because you’re either working full-speed for months at a time or looking for your next job, but I love being a collaborator and filmmaking is the most collaborative work there is.”
Chris describes his work as exploring the art of what’s possible, and doing so surrounded by other talented creative-thinkers. His creative process typically begins by reading a new script and immediately starting to think of ways to interpret it visually.
“When I am ready to start working on a new project, it usually all starts with a script,” said Chris. “I’ll get together with the creative lead or director of a movie or show, and start to dive into it. I will know if the project is a good fit when I feel myself responding well to it, getting excited, and feeling like I truly have something I can contribute.”
Once a new project is secured, Chris typically first works with the team to gain an understanding of what excites them, and then starts to create a look for the movie or television show. This is where he works through all of the creative and logistical problem-solving that goes into any movie or television show.
“This job allows me to meet and work with so many different people,” he said. “For me, this is a great highlight because I love meeting new people. It’s also an interesting field because as much as you learn the techniques of lighting and camera work, no two productions are ever the same.”
Due to the ever-changing nature of the work, Chris often finds himself reinventing the way he works, and constantly learning something new; he intentionally embraces projects that are an opportunity to try a different genre or style.
This mindset of being open to learning new things is also what helped him realize his passion for filmmaking while a student at Northeastern. While he majored in English, he grew to love the production world through trying classes and co-op positions in the photo and production realm, and ended up minoring in photography and video studies.
“Northeastern’s co-op program helped me find my way,” said Chris. “I worked as an assistant to Boston-based documentary filmmaker Stephen McCarthy, who took me under his wing, brought me to his shoots, and gave me great real-world work experience.”
Stephen McCarthy has worked on PBS’s American Experience, American Masters, Frontline, Nova, among many others, so having the opportunity to learn from him while in college is truly special. Chris secured this co-op opportunity with the help of one of his Northeastern faculty members at the time, filmmaker Michael Sheridan, who was as an Academic Specialist for the Department of Cinema Studies as well as an adjunct faculty member. The power of networking is especially strong in the entertainment and production fields.
In addition to working with Stephen McCarthy, Chris also spent a semester interning at a newspaper back in his hometown of Syracuse, while working part-time at the local PBS affiliate.
Entering college, he thought he wanted to be a writer, but through his classes and these co-op experiences, he realized visual storytelling was the path for him. Some notable faculty members helped him along the way – from his photography professor Neil Rantoul (now Professor Emeritus), who retired from teaching at Northeastern in December 2012, to Andrea Raynor, who is a Full Teaching Professor in Photography and an Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in CAMD.
Chris received an MFA in Film from Columbia University School of the Arts. We look forward to staying in touch and seeing his future projects!