BY ADAM CHITWOOD JUNE 13, 2017
The Second Golden Age of Television rightfully gets lauded for incredible stories and characters on shows like The Sopranos or Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but another key aspect of this period is an upswing in visual storytelling on the small screen. As more and more talent has moved to TV for longform stories, the cinematic language of those stories has grown considerably to the point that the cinematography on shows like Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, or Fargo and Legion rivals the work done on the big screen. It’s the latter two shows that are particularly interesting, as they’re both run by showrunner Noah Hawley, who approaches each season like one long feature film.
Hawley doesn’t direct every episode of Fargo and Legion, but his fingerprints are all over these shows, and it’s up to the directors and cinematographers to execute that vision in a manner that’s both faithful and unique. The bulk of these two shows were shot by cinematographers Craig Wrobleski and Dana Gonzales, who are responsible for crafting some of the most exciting shots on the small screen all year.
Recently I got the chance to speak with Wrobleski about his work on both Fargo and Legion, crafting nods to the Coen Brothers and cinematography great Roger Deakins, the specific references in Fargo Season 3, and more. He also extensively broke down his work on the Season 3 episode “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”, including that Big Lebowski shot and a surprising nod to another Deakins film. As for Legion, we discussed how Wrobleski brought Hawley’s insane ideas to reality, crafting the astral plane, and the biggest challenge of the season.
Wrobleski is responsible for shooting eight episodes of Fargo thus far and handled three key episodes of Legion, including the season finale, so he has intimate knowledge and insight into how these shows work. He’s a fascinating and talented director of photography, and if you’re at all a fan of Fargo, Legion, or just great film-making in general I think you’ll find this interview interesting.