What’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.
Petros Antoniadis, who sees his role as a cinematographer “to collaborate with the director in order to turn his vision into the visual storytelling,” says he was bred in an artistic family setting. Lenser Antoniadis has earned numerous cinematography awards, including the Golden Eagle Best Film of the Year at the Asian Cinematography Awards, and Best Cinematography at the Canadian Cinematography Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, and New York Cinematography Awards, and all for the brilliant Iakovos Panagopoulos-directed film, Flickering Souls Set Alight.
However, it all started back home in Greece where he experienced art in different forms. He fondly remembers:
“At family gatherings, we’d all gather next to the piano, and work on art, or take dance and music lessons with my aunt, and I was always attracted to everything related to art. My mother, a pharmacist, is an extremely artistic soul, always with her camera and creative moments. She’s always been my best partner creatively from when I was born, to introducing me to my soon-to-be mentor Walter Lassally all the way to today where she’s happy to help in whatever is needed. My dad, an engineer, is the person that needs only his two hands and his ingenious mind to build anything, even the craziest props for my first films.”
Indeed, Antoniadis was later mentored by Oscar-winning cinematographer Walter Lassally (Zorba the Greek) and met cinematographer Haskel Wexler (Oscar winner for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Bound for Glory) through Lassally. But the early influence of his grandfather, Petros Vlachakis, was especially influential in so many ways. Photographer/artist Vlachakis was the witness and painter of the iconic “Battle of Crete” picture that depicts a brave and unarmed Cretan, Antonis Fintikakis, battling a Nazi paratrooper.
Firstly, Antoniadis enthuses: “Grandfather is still a prime example of someone who lived everything to the extreme—from experiencing the atrocities of WWII to marrying the love of his life my grandmother Eirini—and he was always sharp, with a smile. Consequently, he was an amazing storyteller who showed me how to listen, how to learn, how to respect, how to laugh, how to enjoy, how to value, how to sin and how to regret, how to love, and how to live.”
Secondly, Antoniadis, who believes that a cinematographer’s best asset is his unique eye, recalls the time they went to the Historical Archive of Crete, where his grandfather’s iconic painting is on display: “Upon seeing the painting, the whole world came to a halt. I felt like I was living in the moment—that his stories had my imagination before. But now I was actually experiencing the fear, the heroism, the self-denial, the values. I hadn’t felt so inspired before, as it was the first time that I was feeling in my skin how a single picture is indeed a thousand words and more—feelings that had travelled for more than fifty years which now had reached me through the eyes of my grandfather.”
As a result, he became fascinated with everything picture-related but most importantly moving pictures. And, he began taking his mom’s Hi8 camera out on every occasion he could to explore the world around him. His devotion led him to “announce” to his family, one afternoon after school at age 10: “I will become a cameraman.”
Certainly, his grandfather’s inspiration carried into his most memorable project to date. Flickering Souls Set Alight, which has resonated and connected with many people internationally, including film critics and juries of the film festivals that have awarded it with “Best Film” recognition multiple times.
Most importantly, there are so many awesome aspects to the film with Antoniadis stating: “Besides all the cinematography procedure, a lot of directorial techniques made this experience, on set and on screen, very unique.” Some of these techniques included:
Moreover, there appears to be connecting dots that have led Antoniadis to lensing a succession of eye-opening films. He explains:
“One of the key reasons that Iakovos offered me to shoot Flickering Souls Set Alight was my lighting approach for The Spectator. He admired how the light played a significant part in the storytelling while being naturalistic and ‘silent.’ During Flickering’s premiere, writer Colin Rosemont was thrilled watching all my choices in camera and lighting. At the time, he’d been writing Bound which was also a character-driven film and he was looking for a similar visual approach. I was honored to lens it. Then came Allimono, which was Iakovos’ next project. All these projects helped me build a line of work that was seen by Emmy award-winning producer Cindy Cowan (Miracle on 42nd Street, Red Lights), actor/writer Maiara Walsh (The Vampire Diaries) and director Stephen Wayne Mallet, and that brought me to the table for shooting Play Our Song. That then led to my most recent work, Maiara’s feature film Bight. As the shooting time was extremely limited, we really had to make sure that Maiara, who was also acting in the film, and I were on the same page. That’s why we decided to pre-visualize every single shot of it beforehand, using Cine Tracer.”
Antoniadis is comfortable working on films, along with commercials and is “honored to lens both types of projects.” As a result, apart from the growing catalog of movies he’s lensed, he’s also lensed dozens of international commercial projects from high-profile television adverts (for ASUS: Zenbook Duo 14, and for Madama Butterfly for the Greek National Opera), to A-list corporate promos (for luxury hotel Grande Bretagne), along with music videos, like the country-tinged video “Lightsaber” for Greek singing idol Panos Mouzourakis.
Lastly, going back to what is bred in the bone, Antoniadis says that starting his career in Greece, has set him up to continue working in Hollywood: “I’m fortunate to have started my career in my homeland, where the limitations are many, the budgets don’t help and the challenges are an everyday reality. But in this environment, you’re forced to find solutions and make things work in, sometimes, unconventional yet effective ways. A lot of trials and errors create an experience that I find to be useful both in tight situations as well as on bigger sets, where this unconventional thinking can give instant solutions to problems that arise.”
Grandfather Petros Vlachakis is undoubtedly proud.
Drop in on Vimeo where the multi award-winning Flickering Souls Set Alight is now publicly available online. Check out Petros Antoniadis’ website, his Instagram, his IMDb page, and also his many awards listed at IMDb.
Ashley is an award-winning journalist/author/blogger who has written for Playboy, Toronto Star, Movie Entertainment, Sports Illustrated, Maclean's and others. He's interviewed various "leaders" in their fields, including: Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Anthony Hopkins); Grammy winners (Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube, Pete Townshend); MVPs in sports (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Kobe Bryant); and, business leaders (Amazon's Jeff Bezos). He has an upcoming novel, REJEX, coming out on Pulp Hero Press. And he has written several episodic TV shows, appeared on CNN, and blogged for Mademan, Medium, GritDaily and HuffPost.