May 15, 2024

True Detective: Night Country cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister, BSC

HBO’s True Detective: Night Country has captivated audiences with its chilling atmosphere and compelling narrative. Cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister, BSC worked with director Issa López to craft the haunting visuals for the supernatural whodunit. “The detective procedural is part of the brand and it’s part of the show, but it should not affect the cinematography,” says Florian. “The cinematography is never motivated just in terms of solving the mystery. We must be sure to show every important fact or clue, to understand the mystery or to build up a bigger mystery. But it’s important to follow the characters and their internal struggles and secrets, the relationships, the darkness, the supernatural as the case unfolds.”

When he first met with Lopez to discuss shooting True Detective: Night Country, Florian liked the feeling of eerie isolation and darkness of the location. The influence of nature adds to the supernatural and to the characters’ fragmentation from each other. Florian found inspirational images by photographer Alexander Gronsky, who took photos of Russian workers in mines near the Arctic Circle. John Carpenter’s The Thing and the movie Sicario were also influences for the look of the series.

True Detective: Night Country takes place in Alaska near the Arctic Circle, with Iceland as the filming location. Most of the show was shot outside during the winter months, although it happened to be the coldest winter in Iceland in a hundred years. They used a soundstage only for the scenes where characters had to be outside in the snow naked or barefoot. Florian enjoys shooting in extreme climates, noting that proper clothing for the temperature is what matters the most. Even with the extreme cold, the ARRI Alexa 35 cameras all functioned just fine. The filming was over a period of 112 days, starting in October on the soundstage. Once winter really hit after Christmas, they began shooting in the snow and darkness. Each day provided about four hours of light, with just about five minutes of sunlight, then a few blue hours of sunrise and sunset.

True Detective: Night Country is available on Max.

Hear our previous interview with Florian Hoffmeister discussing his work on TÁR.

Find Florian Hoffmeister:
Instagram: @florian.hoffmeister

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October 4, 2023

Silo cinematographer Mark Patten, BSC

Cinematographer Mark Patten, BSC’s most recent project, Silo, is a post-apocalyptic science fiction drama that’s been a huge success for AppleTV+. The thousands of people who live in the silo don’t know why the silo exists, who built it, or why the world outside is uninhabitable. Citizens who express a desire to go outside, or are convicted of a crime, are sent outside to “clean” the cameras and never survive. After being recruited as the new silo sheriff, engineer Juliette starts to uncover shocking secrets and the truth about the silo.

Silo was shot in Essex, England in a huge former cold storage facility. The set had to be completely built out, retrofitting the space into a working film stage. Lighting rigs were hung even before the sets were built so that the set building and production design crew could see in such a huge dark space. The production crew built three working levels of the actual silo set, complete with the spiral staircase. Mark found the richness of the set decoration created a lived-in, worn down place that made the silo itself seem like a character. Everything is very analog or “lo-fi sci-fi” in this dystopian world. It was interesting to think about how society would act together, in a closed vessel, and maintain their sanity in a locked in culture, especially after just coming out of the pandemic. Mark thought of the Silo as a slow ship moving through time, and it felt like shooting a submarine film. The central staircase acts as a helix through the society of the silo, and Juliette is climbing her way up through the layers of it to solve a mystery.

Mark worked alongside production designer Gavin Bocquet to visualize the Silo’s society, honing in and letting the visuals sing. He decided to subtly use different color palettes for each level. It was a great way to add texture to the images, with the mechanical level becoming very desaturated, except for some touches of bright yellow and orange glow from the heat of the power generators. Since the silo is a mile down into the ground, there is no natural light at all, and Mark needed to figure out what would motivate the light all the way at the bottom. He decided the lighting in the top of the silo would be strongest, and the light would filter down from there. Practical lights were built in everywhere throughout the set and as characters descend to the lowest level of mechanical, the practical lights are the only source. Since every light source was designed and built in, there was no hard light anywhere to manipulate, so for Mark it was an exercise in restraint manipulating reflective light.

Mark recently finished shooting Season 2 of Andor on Disney+.

Silo is available to stream on AppleTV+.

Find Mark Patten:
Instagram: @kiesh

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Facebook: @cinepod
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Twitter: @ShortEndz