Peter Pau

Active - 1988 - 2020  |   Genres - Action, Drama, Romance, Comedy, Children's/Family

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Though you may not immediately recognize his name, chances are that if you've seen one of the films that Peter Pau photographed, you likely walked away remembering vibrant, colorfully captured imagery that lingered in your mind long after the film credits had finished rolling. A native of Hong Kong, Pau studied cinematography at the San Francisco Art Institute, graduating in 1983. Making his feature debut with The Legend of Wisely (1985), a sort-of H.K. variation on the Indiana Jones series, Pau cut his teeth shooting celluloid in such exotic locations as Nepal, including areas near the great pyramids and in the Himalayas. While this certainly prepared Pau for a certain feature he would be widely praised for nearly 15 years later, it also provided the young director of photography with experience in shooting under harsh circumstances. Making his mark on H.K. cinema over the next decade, Pau served as DP on such H.K. cinema classics as John Woo's The Killer (1989), The Swordsman (1990), and The Bride With White Hair (1993). Eventually, Pau's gift for rich and texturally complex imagery would lead him to find more work internationally. Accompanying H.K. superstar director Tsui Hark on his maiden voyage in Hollywood filmmaking (Double Team [1997]), Pau continued his stint in the U.S. as DP to former Bride director and collaborator Ronny Yu in his stateside debut (Warriors of Virtue [1997]). Alternating between work in the U.S. (Bride of Chucky [1998], again with Yu) and H.K. (Ban Zhi Yan [1999]), Pau's previous experiences shooting in exotic locations came back into play as he prepared to shoot director Ang Lee's action-packed romantic fantasy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Citing the influences of Chinese watercolor paintings as his inspiration for the color scheme of the film, Pau and Lee's collaboration proved successful and, though he wasn't the first (or second for that matter) pick for the job, he earned international praise for his work, earning the Best Cinematography award at the 2000 Academy Awards.

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