This is the Way for David Klein: “Mandalorian” Cinematographer Visits Newhouse, Offers Tips to Students 

The lights dimmed, the crowd hushed and “The Mandalorian” appeared.  

A screening of an episode of the hit Disney+ series wasn’t even top billing. 

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever photographed,” David Klein, the cinematographer for the show set in the “Star Wars” universe, said before the screening last week in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium at the Newhouse School. 

A person gives a lighting lesson to students
Klein taught a lighting workshop and a virtual production masterclass to students while at Newhouse. (Photo by Elizabeth Coleman)

The showing wrapped up a two-day visit to Newhouse by Klein as part of a trip sponsored by Canon’s Explorers of Light program. Klein visited classes, gave students technical tips and participated in question-and-answer sessions about working in the industry. 

“Do one great thing and everything else will fall into place,” said Klein, as part of a response to a question about advice on breaking into the field. The audience included students from Newhouse’s television, radio and film and visual communications programs, as well as from the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ film and media arts program. 

Considered a luminary in the world of cinematography, Klein has spent over three decades captivating crowds with his unparalleled visual storytelling.  

A person points as he teaches students how to light a scene
Klein gave students tips, advice and answered their questions. (Photo by Elizabeth Coleman)
A person sits on a stool as he gives a lighting lesson to students
Klein is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and dynamic visual artists. (Photo by Elizabeth Coleman)

His remarkable career includes working on indie classics such as “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” with director Kevin Smith and capturing hit dramas such as HBO’s “True Blood” and Showtime’s award-winning “Homeland.”  

With such a decorated resume, it’s no wonder that students were interested in learning tips of the trade from Klein, along with wise words about working in cinematography.  

There were lots of questions, too, about “The Mandalorian,” especially after the screening of “The Spies,” the second-to-last episode of the recently completed third season. Klein also served as cinematographer on “The Book of Boba Fett,” another “Star Wars” themed series on Disney+. 

a crowd in an auditorium
Audience members listen to introductions before the screening. (Photo by Genaro C. Armas)
A screen showing "The Mandalorian" title
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever photographed,” said Klein of “The Mandalorian.” (Photo by Genaro C. Armas)

“It’s so much better being in the big-budget world, I’m not going to lie,” Klein said. “Shooting big-budget TV for me is like shooting a feature because you have the time.” 

“Chasing Amy” was shot in 20 days, he said. By comparison, the shortest episode from “The Book of Boba Fett,” took 19 days alone.  

Either way, he’s had lots of fun. 

“It’s all fun, it’s all great,” he said. “Even when I was shooting low-budget indie films I had the coolest job in the world.” 

For Klein, part of the cool factor of preparing for the “The Mandalorian” was getting to study “Rogue One,” an acclaimed film from the “Star Wars” universe, as his frame of reference for lighting the Disney show.  

A person gives a lighting lesson while students look on
Klein’s remarkable career includes working on indie classics such as “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” and capturing hit dramas such as HBO’s “True Blood” and Showtime’s award-winning “Homeland.” (Photo by Elizabeth Coleman)

And yes, Klein also answered a question about the process of lighting and filming Grogu, the “Mandalorian” character also known by fans as Baby Yoda for its resemblance to the iconic “Star Wars” character.  

This is the way, Klein said: “Back light, back light, back light.” 

“We spend a lot of time on Baby Yoda … but for the most part, unless he’s jumping and flipping around, it’s all practical. He’s all animatronic,” he added. “He’s the coolest thing ever.”