Dariusz Wolski has been Ridley Scott’s go-to director of photography for the past decade — on films. The duo ventured into TV for the first time with HBO Max’s “Raised by Wolves,” on which Scott serves an executive producer and directed the first two episodes, and Wolski lensed them before handing off the reins to DPs Erik Messerschmidt and Ross Emory.
“The fun thing about it was we could design the whole show and just give it to other talented people to finish!” Wolski tells Gold Derby during our Meet the Experts: TV Cinematography panel (watch above). “Ridley had great ideas. … We had a pretty good prep, considering television requirements. We designed the show and were so fortunate to find Erik Messerschmidt and Ross Emory to finish the show.”
Created by Aaron Guzikowski, the series follows two androids who try to raise humans on a distant planet named Kepler-22b after Earth was wrecked in a war between atheists and believers. Scott is, of course, no stranger to capturing dystopia on celluloid — something of which he was keenly aware when crafting the look of the show.
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“We’ve done so much [science-fiction]. He’s done even more than I did, so it was just trying to be different. It’s really hard, especially for him,” Wolski reveals. “The first radical idea he had, he said, ‘Listen, I’m so tired of spaceships. This ship they’re gonna come on is going to look like my razor.’ So he pulled out the razor, he looked at the shape of it, and we made a model. He said, ‘It’s still too fat. Make it a bit longer.’ No windows, no lights, no nothing. It was a perfectly slick object and that was the spaceship. So that was his first idea.”
In contrast to, say, “The Martian” (2015), which burst at the seams with bright tones, “Raised by Wolves,” is desaturated in muted, monochromatic hues. “The whole thing was to juxtapose the future. Once they settled on the planet, it’s kind of very basic. It’s almost like early settlers, historically very primitive and stuff,” Wolski says. “Everything is based on the one plant they’re growing. It’s their diet. … So that’s how we designed the whole thing. On one hand, you have this super high-tech dome when she’s giving birth to all the children and then you have this very low country kind of primitive environment.”
The series has been renewed for a second season, but Wolski doesn’t expect to return. “I know Ridley’s drawing some stuff and looking for directors. I’m starting another project with Ridley, so I’m sure I will know what’s happening,” he shares. “But for me it was very exciting to do television. I’m finding television way more exciting.”
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