rina yang
3 July 2020

Shooting for the Stars: Rina Yang, BA graduate & DoP on ‘Becoming’

By Rosie Togher | Categorised in News, VIP Guest Speakers, Alumni Interviews, Industry Interviews, Filmmaking Tips, Graduate Stories, Student Interviews

MetFilm School BA Practical Filmmaking graduate and Cinematographer Rina Yang, best known for her work on shows including Top Boy and On The Edge and as Director of Photography on Netflix’s Michelle Obama documentary Becoming, speaks exclusively to our students about her journey while at MetFilm School and her success in the industry.


I joined the course in 2008 knowing very little about filmmaking and graduated from MetFilm School in 2010. Studying the BA Practical Filmmaking was an eye-opening experience, I loved being around fellow filmmakers where you could learn so much from one another.

Whilst studying I started working on short films and small shoots on weekends and during holidays being a runner. I fell into the role of Director of Photography, as at the time the digital landscape was evolving massively, and it was easier for smaller productions to produce high-end quality work.


I began working on music videos instead of short films as the feedback on shorts was slow and I was conscious that I wanted to be progressing professionally. It’s different now as you can launch straight online and get immediate gratification. Music videos are really tough but it’s where you can really experiment. Five music videos shot by Rina Yang…

1. Kamasi Washington – ‘Street Fighter Mas‘ (2018), 35mm
2. DJ Shadow – ‘Rocket Fuel‘ (2019), 35mm, Super 16mm
3. Loyle Carner – ‘Sun of Jean‘ (2017), Super 16mm
4. Vince Staples – ‘Prima Donna‘ (2016), Alexa, RED Dragon, Cooke S4i
5. Young Fathers – ‘In My View‘ (2018), ALEXA, Cooke Panchro


I shot episodes 8,9 and 10 of Top Boy and for this I prepped for around 4 weeks; we shot for just under 60 days. During prep I sat down with Director, Aneil Karia, and we went through each scene. We didn’t shoot each episode chronologically, instead, we shot by location; so often we were jumping between different episodes which can be quite confusing to keep on top of.


Some Directors definitely have their own look and style which they achieve by sticking to the same lenses. Personally, my lens choice is very different each time; as certain projects require sharper higher definition lenses and other projects need to appear visually softer.


At the time I was approached to shoot the Nike Do You Believe In More commercial with FKA Twigs I had been shooting smaller commercials and hadn’t had experience of working on a big campaign before. I had previously worked with FKA Twigs and her Producer previously and they liked my way of working. The campaign went viral and it put me on the map for agents to reach out to me.

Check out more of Rina Yang’s work on her website here.

Ready to launch your career behind the camera? Find out more about our BA Practical Filmmaking and cinematography courses.

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