“I’ve been a cinematographer for 20 years, so I started on film and the majority of things I’ve shot have been on film, but when I got Westworld I hadn’t shot film for three years. I was actually terrified, to be honest. (laughs) I was quite nervous, but it ended up being absolutely wonderful to work on film again. I missed it. There is a reverence on set when the camera is spitting film through its gate. That’s the sound of money. Everybody is concentrated on what they’re doing. With digital, sometimes people don’t have the same self-control and they just keep shooting.” – Cinematographer Darran Tiernan
Check out my interview for Filmmaker Magazine with Darran Tiernan, who lensed five of the ten episodes of Westworld’s second season. Shot on 35mm with Arri Zeiss Master Primes and 75mm-400mm Fujinon Premier zooms.
Filmmaker: At this point I’m only through episode 3, which ends in a large scale battle between Delos security forces and a band of hosts holed up at Fort Forlorn Hope. How difficult is that scale to achieve on a TV schedule?
Tiernan: That battle sequence was shot over three days. Most of the real big battle scenes were shot on one massive day where we had seven cameras. We shot one direction in the morning, we shot another direction mid-day and then another direction in the evening. The next day we blew up the field in front of the fort. We had to plan it like a proper battle, deciding where every camera was going to go for each sequence. It was quite a phenomenal thing to be involved in, with so many departments all in sync in order to pull it off in the time that we had.
I also remember it being incredibly hot. Evan Rachel Wood [who plays Dolores] discovered that the electricians had a heat gun, which is this device that you can point at something and it will tell you the temperature rising off it. At one point she came up to me and said, “It’s 115 degrees on the ground.” All those poor Confederados in their wool period suits. (laughs)