Cinematographer P.J. Dillon knew “The Alienist” “was going to be a production written on a large canvas.” But even though he had read Caleb Carr‘s original novel, he was still surprised by “the scope and the scale of what was being attempted” in the television adaptation. Produced by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“True Detective”), this TNT limited series focuses on a newspaper illustrator (Luke Evans) who teams up with a criminal psychologist (Daniel Brühl) and a headstrong NYPD secretary (Dakota Fanning) to investigate a serial killer in 19th century New York City. Dillon shot 4 out of the 10 episodes, including the first 3. Watch our exclusive video interview with Dillon above.
Having served as director of photography on such shows as “Game of Thrones” and “Vikings,” Dillon is no stranger to gargantuan productions. “It’s a big machine,” he explains, “and you need to find ways to move that machine efficiently. So you need to attempt to do things which have ambition, but … won’t get you bogged down into situations where you don’t make your day.” Ultimately, it’s “a balancing act between trying to have feature-film ambition” while “dealing with the reality that it’s a TV schedule.”
Dillon was nominated by the American Society of Cinematographers for “Vikings” (Best Cinematography in 2015). He also contended at the British Society of Cinematographers for “Ripper Street” in 2013 and “Penny Dreadful” in 2015. He has worked on other shows including “Into the Badlands” and “Primeval,” as well as the films “Earthbound” (2012), “The Rafters” (2012), and “Strangerland” (2015).
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