Longtime “Fargo” cinematographer Dana Gonzales first heard about creator Noah Hawley’s ideas for Season 4 of the anthology series when the duo was working on the FX show “Legion.” Set primarily in 1950s Chicago, the fourth season of the show needed to not just feel like an American mid-century epic but look like something ripped out of the period as well.
To accomplish that visual style, a number of decisions were made. Season 4 of “Fargo” shot in Illinois, for starters, a shift from the show’s usual Canadian confines. Then there was the visual palette, which Gonzales and Hawley based on old mugshots from the era.
“Any cinematographer who tries to create Kodachrome digitally … it’s pretty challenging,” Gonzales says of the decision to replicate the Kodachrome look of the period during the Gold Derby Meet the BTL Experts: Cinematographers panel. “I had to approach it a different way, I had to do a little bit of reverse engineering. If anybody knows anything about Kodachrome it’s actually black and white film and they use color dyes when they process it. I did a process like that to create the look in post and I did a fair amount [of work].”
Gonzales said creating the visual style of the show’s fourth season — which starred a murderer’s row of actors, including Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, and Jessie Buckley — was a team effort that called for precise collaboration between all the departments.
“We built the wardrobe and production design to make sure they work with the colors. We made sure we weren’t all competing so the wardrobe wasn’t competing with the production design,” he says. “That collaboration creates the entire look — all those things that come together to make it all work.”
“Fargo” Season 4 is available on FX on Hulu. Watch the exclusive video interview with Gonzales above.
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