Molly Manning Walker is a Cinematographer and Writer/Director based in London. She graduated from the National Film and Television School Cinematography course in 2019.

Molly’s first short film as a director Good Thanks, You? was produced by DMC and Try Hard Films. It was included in the Semaine De La Critique program at Cannes. Her feature film debut How To Have Sex,subsequently won the Next Step prize at Cannes Film Festival for writing. The film debuted in the Un Certain Regard strand at the Cannes Film Festival 2023- and won the top award. The film is produced by Wild Swim’s Ivana MacKinnon and Emily Leo, alongside Heretic’s Konstantinos Kontovrakis. Film4 and BFI developed the project and financed it alongside mk2 Films. Since premiering How To Have Sex has gone on to screen at TIFF, MIFF and LFF.

As a cinematographer Molly works across all formats including documentary, fiction and commercials. She recently shot Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winning feature film Scrapper for director Charlotte Regan.

When did you know you wanted to be a director?

It has always felt like a recent realisation but as I’m asked more about it, the more I’ve realised it was probably there from the beginning. I started out making my own documentaries on a handheld camera. I wanted to learn cinematography, in order to make sure I could solo shoot. As I learnt more about cinematography, I began to shoot music videos and adverts. I loved the creativity and collaboration of it all. Then it changed when I realised, I had stories I felt I needed to tell. 

Once you knew you wanted to pursue a career as a director, what where your first steps in achieving this goal?

Directing came to me in a really backwards way. An amazing executive producer called Lauren Dark asked if I was interested in directing. At the time I was quite content shooting as a cinematographer. Then the pandemic happened and I’m bad at sitting still. So, I began to write and it just didn’t stop. I often think about what would have happened if I didn’t stop. If the whole world didn’t stop. We wouldn’t be here today. I guess it’s a good lesson in stepping back and allowing your brain to breathe which, I’m generally bad at. 

What obstacles or set backs did you face in becoming a director?

I think I faced way more setbacks as a cinematographer, and I guess that’s my full path. Only 3% of cinematographers are women and so you must inhabit a lot of space that don’t appreciate you. You have to be a strong HoD without being ‘an angry woman’. It’s pretty exhausting. As a queer masc. presenting woman, I often think am I like this because this is me or have I adapted in order to fit in. Is the football chat a defence mechanism? In order to be able to speak to gaffers, grips, camera teams etc. 

How did you develop your voice and hone your craft?

I think my style was built whilst running around with graffiti writers and punk bands. I grew up shooting my brothers bands from the mosh pit. One hand operating whilst blocking a spin kick from your face. That’s how I learnt how to operate. With lighting I remember asking Stuart Harris how to do a particular lighting set up and he shouted down the phone at me (he’s deaf in one ear) ONE LIGHT MOLLY, ITS ALWAYS ONE LIGHT. And since then, this has been my motto. With directing god knows. I think directing came from looking down the eye piece and watching directors give notes and seeing how that changed the actors’ performances. I think directing is about letting go and also being in control, it’s like some kinda mystic magic.  

How did you get your first break?

I always think of the ASAP Rocky music video as my first break. It was my first lighting job. Where someone gave us all the toys etc. We were twenty-three and before that we had been making music videos on Frank Lebon’s DVCam. It was a crazy step up and in hindsight as we were kids. Frank (director) and I have a very special relationship. He’s obviously an amazing photographer and so sometimes he’d ask to operate the camera. I’d watch him closely. It was a fluid growth together that had no ego involved in it. So, this feeling of collaboration and everyone in the team being involved in the final product has been built into my filmmaking DNA. Sorry to talk about cinematography so much but it’s all of my foundation in filmmaking. 

Film Credits: The Worlds My Oyster (2016), Good Thanks, You? (2020), The Forgotten C (2020), How to Have Sex (2023).