U of O Alum Returns With Oscar Accolades, Behind-The-Lens Expertise

May 7, 2018

A University of Oregon graduate turned acclaimed cinematographer is back at his alma mater. Jake Swantko – who filmed the Oscar-winning documentary “Icarus” -- is talking about his craft as well as the importance of journalism. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Jake Swantko at work, behind the camera.
Credit JakeSwantko.com

Swantko says this is his first time back on campus since he graduated in 2011. Now a Brooklyn resident, Swantko’s enjoying the acclaim “Icarus” has received. The film looks at the doping scandal that kept Russian athletes out of the Olympics.

A screen shot of the "Icarus" trailer.
Credit YouTube.com / Netflix

[BRIEF CLIP:] “Two people connected with the Russian doping program are already dead.” “There never was anti-doping in Russia, ever.”

Swantko says having a journalism degree prepared him well for cinematography.

“Journalism actually gave me a great toolkit," Swantko tells KLCC. 

Jake Swantko, 2011 U of O alum, back on campus.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

"To really pay attention to the minutiae, the idiosyncrasies of people, and a lot of that has sort of dovetailed into my cinematography, so now I actually can interview people as well, I can carry on conversations and lead scenes.”

Swantko went to seven different countries for “Icarus.” He says he enjoys connecting with his subjects, which helps him score the perfect shot. 

Swantko's talk is scheduled for 2pm Tuesday (5/8) at McKenzie Hall on the U of O campus in Eugene.


Hear an extended interview between KLCC's Brian Bull and U of O alum Jake Swantko, about his cinematography work, including his criteria for a winning shot and his earliest inspiration.

Another clip from the "Icarus" trailer.
Credit YouTube.com / Netflix

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