When Guillermo del Toro needed to capture a 1950s look in his Cold War monster movie romance The Shape of Water, which tells the story between a mute top secret government facility cleaning woman (Sally Hawkins) and a mysterious sea creature (Doug Jones), the filmmaker called up his Mimic and Crimson Peak cinematographer Dan Laustsen, a Danish DP who del Toro considers to be a “genius with light”. Originally del Toro and Laustsen kicked around the idea of shooting in black and white, then opted for a blue and green palette in which red would only appear in small, symbolic moments. Shadows were of the utmost importance. We sat down with Laustsen to discuss his work with del Toro as well as the tricks he used to shoot complex water scenes. After playing the fall film festival circuit, The Shape of Water took home four awards at the Venice Film Festival including the Golden Lion, best soundtrack for Alexandre Desplat’s score, the future film festival digital award and the CICT-UNESCO C. Smithers Foundation Award. Fox Searchlight releases The Shape of Water on Dec. 8.