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Fargo (The TV Series)

RumRogerz

TRIBE Member
Anyone jump on this series yet? I just ran through the first two episodes and am very impressed. The atmosphere and acting is excellent. From what I understand, it's only one season, 10 episodes. I was completely spellbound by it's dark humour and character progression.
 
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ScottBentley

TRIBE Member
Caught the first 2 eps too and like it, but don't love it. I wish it was an HBO production instead of FX, they would have made it much better. Will be tuning in for ep 3.
 

Musical Rush

TRIBE Member
I was going to start a thread about it too, I've watched the first episode, I still have to watch the 2nd one, I like the 1st one alot, same flavour as the movie, quirky dark humour
 
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ScottBentley

TRIBE Member
I just think an HBO production would have a little better attention to detail.

I really like the performance of the main characters, but some of the bit part actors are kinda weak. Also, I found some of the transition scenes didn't really evoke the kind of suspense that they were intended to.

Just my 2 cents.
 

awwnaw

TRIBE Member
I was a little confused by the trailers. Is the premise that they've taken the movie and rewritten it to 10 eps? Same plot and outcome?
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Who's still watching?

After strong first few eps I was wavering but they really did some excellent TV last few eps!

The snowstorm was cray cray!
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
You betcha I am still watching. There is a particular style to the photography I really like in this show - I am still trying to figure out how they achieve it... At first I thought it was just the way the shot angles are composed...

I think it may also have something to do with the way they are matching colors of the objects and people's clothes in each shot, controlling and limiting the color palette sort of like the way the cinematographer did in Breaking Bad, except that they are using a lot of muted colors and white instead of desert colors. I also figure they might be using one special very expensive Carl Zeiss lens to give them that weird portrait look.

I will ask on the cinematography blog to see if anyone knows how it is done. Reminds me of some of the fashion photography coming out of the Scandinavian countries and Holland in the 90's.

Anyway - I liked that last episode how Lester transformed from loser into top salesman with hot chick wife and trophy too. It was amazing.
 
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alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I found out how cinematographer is getting that look. I was right for the most part, except that they are shooting it digitally and using Cooke lenses:

‘Fargo’ on FX: Returning to the Scene of the Coen Brothers’ Crime(s)
By DEBRA KAUFMAN, DIGITAL VIDEO on April 18, 2014 10:04 am

When Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen’s wry depiction of Midwest manners and a macabre crime caper, hit theaters in 1996, it was an instant hit. Now Fargo is back, this time as a 10-episode limited series on FX Network. It stars Billy Bob Thornton as a malevolent drifter who arrives in Bemidji, one of the small towns in Minnesota that claims to be the birthplace of Paul Bunyan. Also starring are Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, Adam Goldberg and Kate Walsh.

“We are in a Coen Brothers universe,” says executive producer/writer Noah Hawley in a “first look” trailer. “The show is about what happens when a civilized man meets a very uncivilized man. It was our hope that we would create a cast that was a movie cast, not a TV cast. We’re making a 10-hour movie.”

Director Adam Bernstein (Breaking Bad, House of Lies, Bored to Death, Shameless) was brought on to helm the first two episodes; he also got an executive producer credit, which enabled him to get involved in the production at an earlier stage.

“I felt, as a pilot director, that the lion’s share of what I’m supposed to do is get involved in the look of the show so that it’s established when the next directors come in,” Bernstein says. “And for me, the fun is creating the look.”

He notes the similarities and differences between the series and the feature film. “It’s a small town noir crime thriller series, but not just an iteration of the movie,” he says. “There’s a resemblance between the main constellation of characters in the movie in the series, but they’re different people in different phases of their lives. What you’ll find is that the series is less directly inspired from the movie and more a blending, if you will, of the original movie and No Country for Old Men.”

While studying the movie, Bernstein realized that it had a distinctive color palette. “You don’t notice it until you look for it, and I saw that 99 percent of Fargo is beige, blue and red,” he says. “When I watched No Country for Old Men, I saw it was all earth tones, blue, red and yellow—the latter three are the colors of the Texas flag. And both movies are very, very consistent. If there’s a parked car or a knickknack in the back of the shot, it’s one of those colors.”

Bernstein suggested that the TV series maintain the color palette of the movie; Bemidji, which is Brainerd in the movie, gets the beige, blue and red hues of the movie. The series also takes place in Duluth, for which Bernstein picked a green-centric palette.

Fargo shoots in Calgary, Alberta. “The producers wanted Canada because they needed snow for all the exteriors and figured Canada would get snow earlier and longer,” he says. “Plus there is the tax break. Calgary is directly north of Minnesota and has some great forlorn locations.”

Picking a camera was the easy part, says Bernstein. “I don’t think there was much of a discussion,” he says. “Film would have been too expensive and digital cameras are so beautiful [that] I don’t miss film. Right now, the ARRI Alexa is the best digital camera and it was what we wanted to use.” Fargo uses two Alexa Plus cameras with Cooke S4 lenses and Angenieux zooms, all of which were rented from SIM/Bling.

Bernstein’s cinematographer was Matthew Lloyd, CSC, who comes out of the commercial world. “I was very happy to work with Matt,” says Bernstein. “I’d worked with him on Alpha House, a pilot for Amazon. It was a very tight schedule and Matt was remarkable. He was insanely fast and did fantastic lighting with simplicity and efficiency.” (Dana Gonzales is the show’s second cinematographer.)

According to Lloyd, “The primary goal with the lighting of Fargo was to embrace the soft overcast look of the show’s world but also ensure that we preserved all the detail out the windows to sell the cold, wintery look.

“In practice this proved to be quite difficult,” he says. “Alberta is a very bright, sunny place even in the winter, and the show was shot 80 percent on location. This meant quite a substantial lighting package. We often had to completely take out the sun and create our own ‘overcast,’ often by employing a 12×20 Ultrabounce frame with ARRI X lights bouncing in, which I had to ship in from Nova Lighting in Los Angeles.”

“The ARRI X Lights are fantastic tools and unlike any other HMI unit I’ve worked with,” he continues. “They are a super-broad 4K HMI fixture and create beautifully soft light when bounced, filling the frame completely. Most of our kit ended up being HMI. I am also a huge fan of the ARRI M light, which gives a huge output for the wattage.” On the grip side, says Lloyd, the crew often employed precut layers of hard ND gel to control the brightness outside the window and “make sure we could see the world.”

With regard to lenses, the production also followed he choices made by the Coen brothers and their longtime cinematographer, Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. “Prior to Deakins, the Coens had used really wide lenses for a super-stylized look,” says Bernstein. “Once they started working with Deakins, they got into a range of lenses that were 35mm, 40mm … not usually a lot longer than that unless necessary.” Bernstein and Lloyd also chose “a lot of 35mm and 40mm lenses,” similar to those used on No Country for Old Men and Fargo.

These lenses did pose a challenge for the two-camera show. “Two cameras are easy with longer lenses in play because the cameras can get out of each other’s way,” Bernstein says. “Because we were trying to stick fairly religiously to the lens choices of the later Coen brothers’ movies, we couldn’t always utilize the second camera. We did a lot of clever cross-shooting, but perhaps not as much as we would have done had we been relying on longer lenses.” Bernstein praises operators Daryl Hartwell and Tenzin Lhalungpa for their skill in making this work.

SIM/Bling provided digital dailies services in Calgary and also connected Bernstein in Calgary with the edit suite at SIM/Bling, where former Breaking Bad editor Skip MacDonald worked on an Avid. The final DI was performed at Company 3 by Sean Coleman, Lloyd’s longtime colorist. “It was an insanely accelerated post schedule,” says Bernstein. “Initially we were just going to do the pilot, which they would evaluate and then we’d go to series. But they came to the conclusion that they needed to get the pilot plus a first episode shot by Christmas, so I was on a crazy-fast editing schedule.”

- See more at: 'Fargo' on FX: Returning to the Scene of the Coen Brothers' Crime(s) | c2meworld.com
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
It is certainly shot very well - i fully appreciate the extra care and have noticed it. Was very impressed with their effects during the snowstorm too...
 

zildjian

TRIBE Member
Loving it actually and agree the film (as indeed most Coen) should be compulsive vieiwng

Lester in the sporting goods shop opening scene(E4?) my current favourite
 

coleridge

TRIBE Member
Last night's episode was the best hour of TV I've seen this year.

The tension throughout the entire hour was incredible.
 
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Musical Rush

TRIBE Member
I haven't watched this weeks yet, but last weeks was hilarious when he went through the building with a machine gun ( maybe not hilarious for the people who got killed seeing it's a true story) but hilarious for TV
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
Now that I know how they achieve their cinematic 'look' i was watching the set backgrounds of the shots more carefully. Everything is color controlled. It must be a huge amount of work to do that but the effect is so subtle yet amazing.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
That last Fargo episode was one of the best hours of TV i have ever experienced, come to think of it...
 
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kuba

TRIBE Member
alexd, i'm with you - this is a spectacular TV show not getting enough credit IMO

LOVE the character development, the slow pace, the tension, and the camera work.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
The last episode was kind of a letdown after episode 9. Completely anticlimactic IMO. Sad to see this show end though...
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
"Hawley confirmed that, if the series is renewed for a second season, it will be a new story featuring different characters."

..much like True Detective.
 
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