Cinematography Panel: Martin Ahlgren, Steven Meizler, Dan Stoloff, Dariusz Wolski
While everyone has their own process, our panelists at our Meet the Experts: TV Cinematography panel agree that the most important places to start on a project is on the page and with the director. “I think for me the director’s vision is so important. I try to keep an open mind when I’m reading the script,” Martin Ahlgren (“The Plot Against America”) says during our group discussion with Dan Stoloff (“The Boys”), Steven Meizler (“The Queen’s Gambit”) and Dariusz Wolski (“Raised by Wolves”). Click on each of these names to watch an individual interview with each DP.
“First, I wanna take it in what’s on the page, not necessarily start thinking about a technical approach, but then to me it’s important to speak to the director and get into his or her head to kind of have an idea of where they’re imagining the script and what the take is,” he adds. “So it’s really like a balance between the script and the director’s vision before I dare to go too far into what I want it to be.”
Wolski believes it’s “really great” to do research and read the source material first, but the next step is to meet with the director and eventually other departments. “Even your preconceived ideas, they stay with you, but they evolve while you talk to the director, once you see locations, once you see the rewrites on the scripts,” he says. “If there’s action stuff, once you start seeing stunt rehearsals — all those elements during the prep amount to the vision that’s happening in your mind.”
But one ought not to stick to the script, so to speak, all the time. Sometimes the one perfect shot comes out of nowhere. “I always allow for coincidence to happen. I always allow for stuff that you cannot think of,” Wolski shares. “If you’re open to it, it does happen. You come on set, in the case of Ridley [Scott], the storyboard’s very specific … and you come in and it’s like, ‘OK, let’s just do something completely different.’ Just to be allowed to do that is completely great too.”
Watch our full panel to hear their thoughts on cinematography in TV vs. film and more.