Cinematographer Evan Ciniello Crosses Borders with European Music Awards

Evan Ciniello - EMAs
Evan Ciniello - EMAs

Evan Ciniello’s first love was skateboarding. When he received his first camera as a gift at the age of 12, he decided to bring it to the skate park and shoot his friends in action. He quickly discovered a new passion for photography, and when he began learning about film in school, he realized that he could combine his innate photography talent with filmmaking and pursue cinematography. 

Now, Ciniello is a master of his craft, an internationally sought-after cinematographer whose work has been adored all over the world. Whether on YouTube watching your favorite artists’ music videos, like Drake and Rick Ross’ hit “Money in the Grave” and Alessia Cara and Ali Gate’s “Welcome Back” or seeing a commercial for major brands including Dove Men’s Care, you’ve likely seen Ciniello’s outstanding work.

“I am extremely grateful to have been involved in so many successful projects this early on in my career. I am forever grateful to be able to say that I make images and tell stories for a living,” said Ciniello.

A stunning example of Ciniello’s raw talent is his work on Tate Macrae’s 2020 European Music Award performance. Often, award show performances can be a bit cookie-cutter, but this was not the case with this performance, which stands out as its own video. Lewis James, the director on the project, had previously done stage design and direction for artists such as Drake and Post Malone. When he needed a cinematographer with a lot of experience and vision, he immediately reached out to Ciniello and gave the cinematographer an opportunity to really take the lead creatively. 

“I liked working on this project because it gave me the opportunity to work with another artist who is a master in his own medium. Being able to collaborate and help him bring his ideas to life in the film format was a fun challenge. Lewis is a movement and stage designer, so he wasn’t as well versed in the technicalities of film. But he came up with some beautiful ideas for the lighting design and stage design and, working together, I felt we came out with something both visually stunning and unique. One of my favorite parts about filmmaking is the collaboration with different artists and this was one of the best,” said Ciniello.

This European Music Awards (EMAs) video was incredibly technical, with a 100-foot stage for Tate McRae and her crew to dance and perform her hit song on. This complex stage design created many challenges for Ciniello and his team, as the camera needed to span such a large space. Ciniello welcomed the challenge and used a variety of cranes and dollies to make sure they were still able to capture captivating imagery. He brought a cinematic and raw eye to a medium that can be almost sterile. 

When watching the video, viewers can see intricate camera movements and angles, created by mixing many different methods such as handheld and Steadicam which created a raw and cinematic look. Ciniello also used different diffusion filters and prisms in front of the lens to give the image character and embraced water hitting the lens when he was shooting on stage.

“You Broke Me First” has over 770 million plays on Spotify, so the audience for the video was going to be very large. The video now lives on YouTube with almost 6.8 million views, and was featured on websites and blogs such as UK MTV,billboard.com, etcanada.com, and more. Ciniello’s work played a large part in such success, and he does not take that lightly.

“It is always a pleasure to see your work viewed on a large scale. Having this project play during the European music awards was special. This was a big job and took a lot of preparation and hard work. A lot of energy went into planning the intricate camera movements and lighting cues. Seeing it play at the awards live and then seeing it on YouTube with millions of views is humbling,” he said.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch Tate Macrae’s EMA performance here to see Ciniello’s extraordinary work.

Photo by Genelle Cruz

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