“The look evolved considerably from that of season two,” Armando Salas reveals in his exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch the video above) about being the primary director of photography on the third season of “Ozark.” He continues, “We’re getting to the Navarro cartel in Mexico to the Byrdes’ elevated place in society (and within the Navarro organization, opening a casino), so it was important to not get stuck making the same decisions. As the story evolves and grows, the look of the show should grow with it.”
Salas contends at the Emmys this year for Best One-Hour Cinematography with the episode “Boss Fight,” of which the opening five minutes will play for the nominating panel if it advances from the initial popular vote of the cinematographers’ branch of the Television Academy. Salas explains, “I chose ‘Boss Fight’ mainly because there were so many different looks in that episode.” One such look happens when the character of Marty Byrde as played by Jason Bateman is tortured in a cell beneath the Navarro compound, a major location introduced this season and which Salas helped shape, even going back to the set design. “Fortunately on ‘Ozark,’ we get to prep the show,” he says as a continuing cinematographer. He explains about how he is able to plan for shots that are “particularly difficult or elaborate” with the production designer, “That sometimes means that the set is built to the specs of the shot, particularly very large installs like the exterior casino where we had a couple of events and the concert or something as simple as the cell that Marty is held in Mexico. We want to make sure that the set and the camera integrate.”
Netflix is simultaneously campaigning Salas against himself in the same category for his work on the first season of “Raising Dion.” He employed a different large-format camera than on the the third season of “Ozark,” opting for the Alexa LF over the Sony Venice. Salas says about establishing the look of that show as its original director of photography, “The camera’s always very close to the actors, so that’s very intimate, but there’s a large canvas there, so you still get to feel and experience their surrounding environment and along with those intimate portraitures, we go to extreme wides and big developing masters so that you can get the scale of what’s going on.”
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