The Cinematography Podcast Episode 156: Cinematographer Ari Wegner

Ari Wegner, ACS became a fan of director Jane Campion after seeing her short films in high school. Seeing those films opened Ari’s eyes to the possibilities of choosing filmmaking as a career. Several years later, she had an opportunity to work with Campion on a commercial in Sydney, Australia and found they shared a similar working aesthetic. Campion contacted her next about shooting The Power of the Dog, and wanted to work closely with Ari on prepping the film over the course of a year. Most DPs only have a few weeks to meet with the director, location scout, and prep the film. They began with location scouting in New Zealand, Campion’s home country, searching for the right mountains as the backdrop. The Power of the Dog takes place in 1920’s Montana, so finding the right location to build an entire ranch set was also important. Ari and Campion agreed that the colors in the film should reflect the natural environment of cattle, sun, dust, golden grass, and brown leather. The color palette was key to unifying the look of the film, from the costumes to even the color of the cows.

Ari and Campion spent the last month before the shoot storyboarding every scene, in a cabin closer to the set. As the set was being built, they would go to the location and walk through it to figure out if the shots were going to work. The ranch house exterior was built on location, while the interiors were built on a stage. The script also required knowing exactly where the actor’s eyelines would be as the characters stalk and spy on each other, so Ari needed to know the layout of the house very well so that the shots lined up just right. Campion always uses storyboards as plan A, and is open to things changing once the actors physically embody the characters and find their own unique moments and flow. Ari often filmed handheld in order to move in on the actor’s faces to capture the quiet moments, expressions and unsaid private thoughts of each character.

Ari’s work on The Power of the Dog was just nominated for an ASC Award.

Find Ari Wegner
Instagram: @ariwegner

You can see The Power of the Dog on Netflix.

Close Focus: The Sundance Film Festival is currently going on completely virtually again this year. Should film festivals change it up and do hybrid festivals from now on?

Ben’s short end: Guillermo del Toro is making a stop-motion Pinocchio for Netflix.

Illya’s short end: Ozark Season Four is now available on Netflix.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

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Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman Email:
Instagram: @illyafriedman @hotrodcameras

Ben Rock

@neptunesalad twitter

@bejamin_rock instagram

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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