The Irish cinematographer was nominated for an ASC Award, IFTA Award and Royal Television Society Award for his work on the BBC period drama Peaky Blinders.
Growing up in Ireland near Dublin, Cathal Watters, ASC, ISC remembers the smell of photographic chemicals as a constant in his home. His eldest brother worked as a press photographer, and their father built his brother a darkroom for his work. At 12 years old, Watters spent his first paycheck on a Pentax P30 camera and started taking his own black-and-white photographs. “I loved seeing the images come to life!” he says.
Watters attended Trinity College Dublin and earned a degree in drama and theatre studies. Although he was interested in drama, the cinematographer says, he was “very focused on how to tell stories through film.” After graduation and earning a postgraduate degree, Watters was hired to photograph news segments for TG4, the national Irish language public service broadcaster.
The young man then transitioned into shooting documentaries, which took him to locations around the globe. “I always wanted to shoot films, but at that time, I felt I needed to have a camera on my shoulder and learn about framing the world I was seeing,” he says. Following this experience, Watters focused on photographing drama projects, including short films and music videos — “anything I could do that would involve lighting,” he says. “I had grown to realize what was important in telling stories through images.”
Watters shot his first narrative feature in 2014, Dare to be Wild. His work on the feature Viva earned him an IFTA award for best cinematography, and his work on the television series Dominion Creek (aka An Klondike) earned him another nomination. His camerawork on the features A Dark Song and Handsome Devil has also been acknowledged with festival awards and nominations.
For his work on the BBC period crime series Peaky Blinders, Watters was nominated for an ASC Award, IFTA Award and Royal Television Society Award. His television work also includes the TNT drama The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Taken Down and Finding Joy.
His upcoming credits include the BBC thriller Smother.