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Podcast – Cinematographer Ari Wegner ACS on The Power of the Dog

Australian cinematographer Ari Wegner ACS discusses the making of The Power of the Dog, from working with Jane Campion to the New Zealand shoot.

Ari Wegner ACS and director Jane Campion on the set of The Power of the Dog

Ari Wegner ACS and director Jane Campion on the set of The Power of the Dog (Photo credit: Netflix)

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Ari Wegner ACS was doing Christmas shopping in Melbourne several years ago when her phone rang. The caller was director Jane Campion.

“I thought it’s probably a wrong number, because my name starts with ‘A’ so people call me accidentally quite a lot,” Wegner says on the Screen Australia Podcast.

It wasn’t a pocket dial though. Campion was calling to say she was adapting a book called The Power of the Dog into a screenplay and whether the cinematographer was interested in coming on board the production.

Wegner had worked with Campion once before, on a commercial a few years previously, where “we really hit it off and we learnt that we really enjoyed working together and shared a common aesthetic. Also that we enjoyed working the same way – we love preparation, but to always be open to a better idea coming up on the day…

“I didn’t have to give it much thought to say, ‘yes please I would love to do this film with you.’”

Campion had a caveat though. She wanted a DoP who would start essentially straight away.

“She said ‘we’re going to shoot in about a year’s time… but I want to start prepping now. I don’t want to be rushed… I want to start scouting… and I want to have someone that’s a real ally and that’s going to be just as much an expert on this film by the time we shoot as I am.’”

That’s exactly what happened. Wegner says it was a ‘dream’ to have a year-long pre-production period, which also allowed her to collaborate with production designer Grant Major on the building of the Burbank mansion – a pivotal location for the story.

“It’s really the work of a fantastic architect… not just to build a house that works as a space but to build a house that’s literally designed to be shot: it’s only purpose is to exist in this film, so when you’re working with someone like Grant at his level, we can talk about what kind of lenses you’re going to use, what’s your aspect ratio, what kind of shots are you planning.”

Ari Wegner on the set of The Power of the DogAri Wegner ACS on the set of The Power of the Dog (Photo credit: Netflix)

Based on the novel by Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog is set in 1920s Montana and centres around the charismatic and domineering rancher Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch). When Phil’s brother brings home a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Australian Kodi Smit-McPhee) to live at their sprawling property, he seems determined to wage a war of intimidation upon them, until a more surprising consequence starts to occur.

Throughout the podcast, Wegner also talks about shooting the South Island of New Zealand as 1920s Montana and what it was like switching to a handheld camera style for some scenes with the always-in-character Benedict Cumberbatch.

“I didn’t meet Benedict until very recently. I spent a lot of time with Phil Burbank and very little with Benedict Cumberbatch,” she says.

Wegner, who was recently honoured with the TIFF Variety Artisan Award at the film festival in Toronto, and whose credits include Zola, True History of the Kelly Gang and The Kettering Incident also talks about starting out in the Australian industry working with the likes of Greig Fraser ACS, Robert Humphreys ACS, Adam Arkapaw ACS, Stefan Duscio ACS, and Germaine McMicking ACS, as well as her hopes for more female DPs to be nominated in the 2022 Oscar race, where The Power of the Dog is getting buzz alongside Claire Mathon’s work in Spencer, Hélène Louvart for The Lost Daughter and Alice Brooks for In the Heights. To date, only one female cinematographer has been nominated in the 93-year history of Academy Awards: Rachel Morrison for 2017’s Mudbound.

“I think there’s been amazing work from female DPs going on for a long time but it’s really nice to see… I think we’re all ready for it to be honest. It’s 2021 and it’s not out of charity or altruism that this conversation is going on. It’s recognition of work.”

The Power of the Dog is out in cinemas now and launches on Netflix on December 1.

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Audio Transcript

[00:00:05] Caris Bizzaca Welcome to the Screen Australia podcast. I'm Caris Bizzaca, a journalist with Screen Australia's online publication Screen News. Before we start, I'd like to acknowledge the countries we meet on. Wherever you might be listening in, we are joining from unceded lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This podcast has been produced on the lands of the Gadigal people who are of the Eora nation, and I as a visitor on this land have such privilege to work on this country. Always was, always will be. On this episode of the podcast, we are joined by Australian cinematographer Ari Wegner ACS whose latest work you can see in Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog, the atmospheric psychodrama that is already gaining Oscar buzz, and which you can watch in cinemas now and on Netflix from the first of December. Based on the novel by Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog is set in 1920s Montana and centres around the charismatic and domineering rancher Phil Burbank, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. When Phil's brother brings home a new wife played by Kirsten Dunst and her son, played by Australian Kodi Smit-McPhee, to live at their sprawling property, he seems determined to wage a war of intimidation upon them until a more surprising consequence starts to occur. Throughout the podcast, Ari talks about the year-long pre-production period with Jane Campion and how she began working with the acclaimed director, as well as shooting the South Island of New Zealand as 1920s Montana, collaborating with production designer Grant Major to build a mansion purely designed to be filmed, and what it was like switching to a handheld camera style for some scenes with the always-in-character Benedict Cumberbatch. Ari, who was recently honoured with the TIFF Variety Artisan Award at the Film Festival in Toronto, has worked across a variety of genres and mediums with other credits including feature film Zola, True History of the Kelly Gang, Lady Macbeth and Ruin, as well as TV series such as The Girlfriend Experience and Tasmanian noir The Kettering Incident. To stay up to date with the Screen Australia podcast, you can subscribe through places like Spotify or iTunes where you can leave a rating and review. Send any questions or feedback to podcast@ screenaustralia.gov.au and remember to subscribe to Screen Australia fortnightly eNewsletter for the latest articles, funding announcements, videos and more. Now here's The Power of the Dog cinematographer Ari Wegner. So first of all, can you tell me a bit about your background in the industry and some of the projects that you've worked across?

[00:02:49] Ari Wegner Background in the industry...I might just go a little bit before that. I grew up in quite an analogue household; a lot of books, art and drawing. My father's a visual artist and my mother's super creative as well, so we always had a lot of creativity, but not necessarily cinema. Then as a teenager, I discovered that cinema was could be an art form just as much as entertainment, and around that same time. I was always into writing and photography, then I found out that there was this thing called a cinematographer, and that is basically putting those two things together; photography and writing to do visual storytelling. By the end of high school, I had decided I really wanted to go to film school so that's what I did. I went to VCA in Melbourne and from there basically started shooting, as you do at film school, you try everything and it became pretty clear to me pretty quickly that I just loved camera. I loved shooting, and I love working with directors to execute their vision photographically, tell stories with images. Then I guess that bunch of people that were at film school [with me], once we graduated, we kept working together, doing little things the same scale as you do at film school, and at the same time, I started being a camera assistant on commercials and being clapper-loader and second AC. I mean, to be honest, I was always a bit of a mediocre second AC because I was just obsessed with watching DP's and what they were up to. That what I loved about being a second AC, you're really in the centre. You get to see everything that's going on. You're always in the room to do the board and you can spy on DP's and what they're up to.

[00:04:48] Caris Bizzaca Good training ground.

[00:04:50] Ari Wegner It's amazing, [a] really great time of learning and excitement, and then I guess at a certain point, it becomes time to make the jump, and that's   what I did.

[00:05:03] Caris Bizzaca Who were some of those early DP's that you were learning off working with?

[00:05:09] Ari Wegner Bob Humphries, he took me under his wing as an attachment. Greig Fraser was a fantastic mentor, we went on the road for the Last Ride with Glendyn Ivin, and I really learnt a huge amount on that with him, being out in the landscape and shooting some second unit stuff. I remember him giving me some beautiful advice once to say, just trying to explain the shot he wanted it and he said, 'You know what, just trust your gut. You know what you're doing'. That was such a huge confidence boost to realise that even if you're young and starting out and you don't have all that technical experience, you can still have good gut instincts. They were the main ones, and then also people from that class, like Adam Arkapaw I was camera assistant for and he would camera assist for me and same with Stefan Duscio, and Germain McMicking. It was a really great time where there was a bunch of young DPs and we would go on little projects and camera assist for each other and [it was] just a wonderful time of helping each other out and being helped out in very no-ego type ways, just wanting to make great stuff. I look back on that time very fondly, actually.

[00:06:30] Caris Bizzaca Also, it's just awesome to see where all of you have gone since then, like all those names. You have always gravitated then towards camera, but what do you see is the role of a cinematographer?

[00:06:44] Ari Wegner Wow, that's a big question, the role of a cinematographer. I think in many ways it's like a translator, because obviously you're translating a script which is a written medium into actual visuals. Sometimes the script describes something, and it makes sense when you read it and then when you actually think about what is the shot, how do we actually do that visually, it actually takes a little bit of work and sometimes it's not a direct translation. Then you're also translating the director's thoughts into shots, into sequences and also translating their needs and how they want to do things to the crew as well, because that's a huge thing to not just decide what the film is going to look like, but how does the director want the shoot to be? That's a really important thing for me for the director's experience, and I think the DP's have a huge role in facilitating and leading, getting to know a director and how they might like to work, and then choosing the right crew that will be compatible with that and shaping the shoot day with the first AD and all those things that are not often described as the actual role of the DP but I think they're the most important things, and for me are the first things to get under way.

[00:08:07] Caris Bizzaca The Power of the Dog is one of your latest works, and the director on that was Jane Campion, of course. But first of all, what is The Power of the Dog actually about?

[00:08:18] Ari Wegner A lot of people have described it as two brothers that are living on a ranch and then one of them gets married and upsets the whole dynamic. It is about that, but it's also about two lonely people who are at war, Phil and Rose, and they've actually got a lot in common and they're both afraid that the other person is going to destroy everything they hold dear. For Phil, what he holds dear is tradition and a certain way of doing things that shouldn't change, and what Rose holds dear is her son. They're both very afraid, and they react in very different ways. I think it's also about this character, Phil, who he really loves the world that he lives in: Montana ranch in 1926, but he also knows that it wouldn't necessarily love him back if it really knew him, so that's a really difficult thing for him to live with, to live in a place and love a place that that doesn't necessarily allow you to be your full self. It's complex.

[00:09:33] Caris Bizzaca In terms of getting involved with this project, how did you actually get involved in the first place?

[00:09:42] Ari Wegner Well, I'd actually done a commercial with Jane [Campion] about three years before we shot this. We have a very close mutual friend, Paola Morabito, who he used to work for Jane as her assistant on many of the films, and then Paola moved on and started directing herself, and I was shooting for her a lot at the time. When this commercial came up for Jane - it was the first time she'd done a commercial - Paola suggested to her that that she thought that Jane and I would be a good match and that she should give this DP called Ari a shot and see if she enjoyed working with me. It was a short little shoot but we really hit it off, actually, and we learnt that we really enjoyed working together and that we shared a common aesthetic and also that we   enjoyed working in the same way. We loved preparation, but also to be flexible, always be open to a better idea coming up on the day than you planned for. Then basically it was during, I don't know if you remember in Melbourne, it was a few years ago, there was one summer, it was insanely hot. It was forty-five degrees for a few almost a week or so. I think everyone will remember that, very like vivid memories, the insanely hot time and I was in the supermarket at IGA Sydney Road, Brunswick, doing my Christmas grocery shopping for Christmas lunch and my phone rang. I looked down, it said Jane Campion and I thought, 'Well, it's probably a wrong number' because my name starts with 'A' so people call me accidentally quite a lot. Anyway, I answered, and it turns out it wasn't a pocket call that she'd read a book that she really loved, and she was adapting into a screenplay and would I be interested in talking about it a little more? She said as a very throwaway comment, if you're interested in reading the book, you can, or you can wait for the first draft of the script. Of course, I instantly went home and ordered the book, and read it twice. I mean, if the prospect of working with Jane wasn't enough, the book is just incredible, and the screenplay was just as just as exciting. I didn't have to give it much thought to say 'Yes, please, I would love to do this film with you.' I guess one of her caveats before I even started talking, she said, 'I should let you know I want a DP who's going to start straightaway, and we're going to shoot in about a year's time, we're scheduled to start shooting, but I want to start prepping now. I don't want to be rushed. I don't want to leave anything too late. I want to start scouting in the time of year that we're going to be shooting and I want to have someone that's a real ally and that is going to be just as much an expert on this film by the time we shoot as I am, and that's pretty much what we did.

[00:12:41] Caris Bizzaca So a year of prep with Jane Campion, have you ever immersed yourself in pre-production like that before?

[00:12:49] Ari Wegner No way, I mean, that would be my dream, I'm such an obsessive. I think anyone that knows me will know that once I get my teeth into something, I get super excited. I mean, it wasn't a year on the payroll, but the year was my choice, I guess. It was a choice, but it was also just my brain had decided that nothing else, I couldn't think about anything else. Once I had this idea coming, once I knew that in a year's time, I was going to be doing this film, I felt like I did need to get started, I did want to get started. I was so excited, there's so much to explore. We started with the scouting, which we knew we needed to do ASAP to see it at the time of year would be shooting.

[00:13:41] Caris Bizzaca In New Zealand? It was decided by then?

[00:13:43] Ari Wegner Yeah, we were going to shoot New Zealand for Montana, it had already been figured out that that could work. What an amazing synchronicity as well that Jane would find this book that she loved, manage to get the rights, write a beautiful script, and it's set in Montana, which is such an incredible match for the South Island of New Zealand, which is her backyard really. She knows that like the back of her hand. It was almost meant to be, to say why not shoot here. Unfortunately, a lot of Montana is maybe too built up, some of the places they saw felt like they were going to have to avoid, or cheat angles. Or maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, I'm sure there's plenty of places that would work, but New Zealand just offered so many benefits, not least of all, is that Jane knows it so well, and the crew and the whole big picture.

[00:14:41] Caris Bizzaca Talking about that bigger picture, cinematography is working with production design, with costume, with music to create the whole and [to make] the director's vision come to life, but can you talk through in particular working with production designer Grant Major, especially in the building of that ranch home? The actual South Island location is a huge part of the story, but so is this ranch, and what [were] some of those discussions when that set was being built?

[00:15:19] Ari Wegner The ranch and the mansion that's on this ranch is such a particular building. It's described really beautifully in the book as an island of civilisation. It's a house that's maybe even too luxurious for the place that it's in, it's already got an awkwardness to it, but it is an epic grand mansion on a very desolate location with these beautiful hills. It's not [quite] a desolate location, it's just very vast, it's expansive, it's big, it can be a bit brutal because they're exposed out there, but then there's an incredible beauty to it as well because you've got these mountains surrounding you. When we found this property, we knew, we felt it really, it's such a beautiful valley with a gorgeous mountain range. We really felt that this was the place. Then I guess what is beautiful about having a year to prep is you can start all of those discussions so early and not have to rush them, but to say, OK, it's January, our deadline to start building is November/October and what are our deadlines throughout the year to make those decisions and be able to have a first draft ideas and then second draft ideas and then get to October and you've all decided on something you want. It's a very holistic way of working because we know the things that are going to take place in the house and then we started designing the space to work for them. I mean, the whole house is really designed to service the story, but that's also quite a skill, too, to build a house that doesn't appear that way, it has to look like a house. Grant did such beautiful work on that house; I really love it. It's really the work of a fantastic architect as well, it's like the work of an architect and not just to build a house that works as a space, but to build a house that is literally designed to be shot like its only purpose to exist is to be existing in this film. When you're working someone like Grant at his level, we can talk about what lenses that you're going to use, what's your aspect ratio? What shots are you planning?

[00:17:31] Caris Bizzaca Do you have storyboards that you could show to be like, 'this is what we're thinking for something like this'?

[00:17:38] Ari Wegner Yeah, he also did some beautiful propositions that had a concept artist offering what some great angles could be based on some initial plans they had. They were really inspiring, as well, just to be able to envisage - neither Jane or I had actually either done such an extensive build. I mean, for Grant, it was a walk in the park because he'd done all the Lord of the Rings films, so he's no stranger to scale. We became comfortable with it, but it started off feeling like an enormous responsibility and so many decisions, but again, when you've got that time, you're chipping away at little things or having an idea and then feeding that to Grant about this number of doors. Also, all the eyelines which are actually really embedded in the script as well, about needing to see, for example, from the kitchen we need to see the corral, from the barn we need to see the house, from Phil's room we need to see down to the alley, and how that all connected. It was all part of a big jigsaw. We had some boards and some frames in mind that we made sure that the architecture would service that. We actually did most of our boarding towards the end of that year, probably in November-ish, we started boarding and we did an intensive four, five weeks, one-on-one just boarding. In a way, we didn't want to start boarding too early because we wanted to be informed by all the knowledge we had, all the research, all the locations. We went down to the South Island to a little place that wasn't too far from the location and we just spent every day all of those days: get up early, make a coffee, sit down, get our pencils out, and we'd talk about a concept of how we thought it might work to shoot it. Then she would draw something, and I would draw something, [we'd] compare, what did you get? What did you get? Compare ideas and then would do that in the mornings, then some point after lunch or towards the end of the day as it was getting late, drive over to the location and check whether our boards were going to work. Then also as the builders were building the house in the barn and the fencing and all the ranch was coming to life, we'd arrive just as the builders were leaving and just in that quiet time, when the building site becomes quiet and wander around, go up on the roof of the house and see if there's a good angle from there and discover things.

[00:20:10] Caris Bizzaca We can see all the light.

[00:20:14] Ari Wegner Exactly. When the landscape's so vast, shadows do such beautiful things, and if you're in a place long enough, you really get to know it: at this time of day, the shadows of these pine trees are going to go all the way up to the mountains, and you'll get that for about seven minutes before it's totally gone. All those little things that [are just] gold - that's information to pass on to AD's or when someone says, 'hey, on Tuesday, we wrap at this time or shall we wrap at that time?' And you can go back and be like, 'well, we want to get this shot where we want the ground to be in shadow, but the mountains to have sun, and so now it needs to be actually this time and we have to get there at that perfect moment or we'll miss it. We were real experts in the place, the light, the scripts, the boards. It's a great feeling to arrive with that knowledge.

[00:21:13] Caris Bizzaca The other thing that I was reading about was how on some of the interiors you would switch to handheld, particularly in scenes with actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, and that camera almost being like a dance. Can you talk about that a little bit more?

[00:21:32] Ari Wegner Yeah, a lot of the film has very controlled camera and very precise moves in a very sober, non-judgmental type photography. We also planned to have some more spontaneous work with Phil when he was unguarded. It was definitely a dance for sure, because Benedict was in character the entire time, and if you've seen the film or maybe you've heard about it, he's not a very pleasant guy to be around. Phil, I'm talking about, not Benedict who is an absolute gentleman, but I didn't meet Benedict until very recently. I spent a lot of time with Phil Burbank and very little time with Benedict Cumberbatch, so that's an intimidating prospect actually to say you're going to do handheld with Phil, not with Benedict. I guess anyone that has worked with handheld, sometimes you get very physically close to actors and we were really dancing together as we went along. The scenes are all quite vulnerable moments, the handheld moments, where it's really Phil alone, so I think I got to see another side of Phil as I was doing that work because we would often do those handheld scenes not quite as closed sets, but with less crew in the room. You don't need a dolly grip or as much gear when you're doing handheld, so just have a couple of people, your absolute core minimum: the grip and have the first AC outside and have the boom swinger and just be me and Jane and Phil in the room. I think Phil, we're still talking [about] Phil, not Benedict, but was able to relax in that environment versus when we had the camera, all of those people around watching him film.

[00:23:33] Caris Bizzaca He's quite a guarded character, so if there's a lot of people on set, he might be the more formidable person to when there's less people, he can be a bit more of the unguarded version of Phil.

[00:23:45] Ari Wegner I think also the camera, the effects of handheld with someone that's unguarded and relaxed is really intimate because the camera can go wherever it wants to go, it's not pre-planned. Even the different style of shooting we did, there were rolling resets rather than cutting in and boarding again, but get to the end of an action and Jane say, 'okay, Phil, take a couple of steps back and we'll do that again, and Ari, let's get a tighter one this time and maybe get a lower angle.' And I'd get down on the ground rather than having to pause and wait, and rebuild something. It works for all of the reasons it does. I try never to do handheld just because it's quicker, but for more of a stylistic reason. This is quicker, but it allowed for a flow and a spontaneity and a relaxing that I think shows through.

[00:24:46] Caris Bizzaca In terms of what cameras and lenses you actually chose to go with, what did you choose in the end?

[00:24:56] Ari Wegner We chose the Alexa LF and the Ultra Panatar from Panavision, which are a one point three times anamorphic, so some of the qualities of spherical, some of the qualities of anamorphic, which I really liked both of those qualities.

[00:25:18] Caris Bizzaca COVID meant shutting down the production for a number of months and then moving to a studio for the latter part of the shoot. I heard that there was some printing of large landscape images and things like that to help from a cinematography point of view, can you explain that a bit more?

[00:25:37] Ari Wegner It's maybe not quite that exact series of events, from the get go we knew that we'd built the exterior down south and then would come back to Auckland for the interiors. It was just really impractical to be shooting in a bathroom set in the middle of Central Otago, so we knew we should come back to Auckland to do the interiors, so that was always the plan.

[00:25:59] Caris Bizzaca There was just a break in the middle.

[00:26:01] Ari Wegner It just so happened that we'd just finished our exteriors and I think we did a few days in studio before the whole country shut down at that point really, wasn't just us. I think we were one of the last film's shooting in the world actually at that point because New Zealand was such a bubble and we shot right up to the point that everyone really felt like they wanted to go home, because airlines was stopping flying and it all got a little bit scary. I think we paused for about three months and we got very lucky, really. We just closed the studio doors, took all the gear back. Everyone flew home and really hoped and prayed that we'd get through and come back, which very luckily, we did, about three months later.

[00:26:50] Caris Bizzaca Can you talk about the studio?

[00:26:56] Ari Wegner That was another big question, I guess for me and Jane. We really wanted the interior of the house to still have a connection with the outside just because you want to feel it's right there.

[00:27:11] Caris Bizzaca [It's] such a character in the story.

[00:27:11] Yeah, it's really present and there is mainly looking out of windows, but there's an inherent connection within the script from inside and outside. Then you think, how do we literally actually do that? [Which is a] terrifying prospect because when the house has these enormous windows, it's a huge mansion in a beautiful place that has windows galore, super high windows. That's the style of architecture as well, there's no way to go. [No option to go] 'oh we have smaller windows or maybe put curtains or something,' that was never going to work for us, so the obvious way to do it would be to replace the background with VFX landscapes. But we were all a bit nervous about how that would work, and to be honest, actually just the sheer amount of work that would create for the VFX budget team to do every shot of the interior, imagine you make every shot of the interior a VFX shot and put all those backdrops in and then actually have to go and shoot those exteriors to put there. Putting a green screen or blue screen doesn't create a shot, it just means you still have to go and shoot that thing at some point. The solution actually, Grant Major was the first one to suggest it, that we print these backdrops and we actually couldn't afford anything fancy like those fresco backdrops or backlit anything, we didn't have the turnaround time, either by that point, so Grant suggested that we just print them like you would print a billboard, get them printed on this vinyl, and so we took photos on the location. Jay Hawkins, who is our visual effects supervisor, also is really involved with that took that under his wing, even though it's not necessarily VFX but he was amazing. I guess it's quite technical as well, because you got to think about the perspective and what lens do you use to shoot the backdrops and how far away will they be in the studio? We had three or four backdrops, but we could only afford to do it for one time of day, so we decided on an overcast day and the idea would be to light them for dusk or light them for night, and so Jay was amazing in collecting all those images and sewing them all together to make that one huge billboard image of the of the hills. Then we printed them out, put them in the studio, and it really was an amazing old-school optical illusion. You stand in the set; you look out and you're back down south. That was awesome. I'm still in awe of those old school movie tricks, that they actually still work. It's just optics and physics, so that's basically what we did. I really enjoyed working with those, but it also means that not just what you see out the window is landscape. Rather than blue or green screen, all the reflections are accurate, you're not getting this blue or green pollution coming in to all the beautiful sheen on all the surfaces. You could bounce light off them to come in, and even I could be more risky in my lighting because I was seeing the entirety of the frame rather than maybe if it was blue screen, I probably might have played it a bit safe knowing not entirely one hundred percent what was going to be out there. But if you know what's out there, then you're shooting an entire frame rather than just part of a frame or shooting a frame with a little asterisk to say 'to be finished later.' That was a huge success, I'd definitely pushed to do that again. Just some good, bold decisions to not rely on the standard way of doing things.

[00:31:02] Caris Bizzaca The Power of the Dog, there's obviously Oscar buzz that's going around. How do you feel about that, but also the fact that there might be another Australian, who you've actually worked with - Greig Fraser - in the race as well?

[00:31:19] Ari Wegner I love Greg so much, he's obviously an amazing DP but [also] a good friend and fellow Aussie. I think for me actually, the more interesting thing that is that in ninety-four years of Oscars, there's only been one nomination for a woman for cinematography, which was Rachel Morrison in 2017.

[00:31:42] Caris Bizzaca There's potentially a few this year, Claire Mathon with Spencer.

[00:31:45] Ari Wegner Hélène Louvart for The Lost Daughter.

[00:31:52] Ari Wegner I think there's been amazing work from female DP's going on for a long time, but it's really nice to see them getting [recognition].

[00:31:58] Caris Bizzaca Alice Brooks [for] In the Heights.

[00:32:01] Ari Wegner She did tick, tick... BOOM! as well. I think we're all ready for it, to be honest. It's 2021 and it's not out of charity or altruism that this conversation is going on. I think its recognition of work, and I think if you really ask any DP who also happens to be a woman, none of us are really that interested in our gender being forefront. I think most of us just think ourselves as DP's and really hope that in not too long a time that the term female DP will disappear and be a relic of the past, like they used to call it lighting cameraman. These Ye Olde terms from the good old days. I think one day we'll look back and think 'oh they used to call it female cinematographer.' For me, I think of myself as a DP, I don't arrive on set get out of my car thinking, 'I'm a woman walking down', I'm not really thinking about that.

[00:33:09] Caris Bizzaca Exciting to see all these names coming through.

[00:33:14] Ari Wegner Yeah, and I love Claire's work, Alice's work and Hélène's work: just really sensitive, beautiful work, really, regardless of what their gender is, so I think it's exciting times, no matter what happens. I'm just really grateful to have people watch the film and be able to experience that year of planning and fifty-day shooting with the months in between, to COVID, and to actually see now, it seems like a long journey from that moment in IGA, Sydney Road Brunswick to now, a long, long time. But it's so nice to have people finally getting to see what we've been up to.

[00:33:55] Caris Bizzaca Fantastic, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. We'll have to leave it there, but really appreciate you talking to us all about your career and The Power of the Dog.

[00:34:06] Ari Wegner Awesome, thanks so much for having me.

[00:34:11] Caris Bizzaca That was The Power of the Dog cinematographer Ari Wegner, and remember, you can catch the film on the big screen now or on Netflix from the first of December. For the latest episodes of the Screen Australia podcast, remember to subscribe through places like Spotify and iTunes, where you can leave a rating and review, and you can also subscribe to the Screen Australia newsletter, where we'll send you the latest funding announcements, videos, articles, and more every fortnight. Thanks for listening.