Director Cary Fukunaga gets a lot of well deserved credit for the look and feel of True Detective. That’s all well and good, but he didn’t do all that work by himself. He had help from cinematographer Adam Arkapaw. Variety did a short interview with Arkapaw and go the gist on the now famous six-minute tracking shot. Arkapaw went into the various limitations of the shot and the series itself:
“The main challenge was always time…In a film, you might be accustomed to shooting two to three minutes of screen time a day. On ‘True Detective,’ we were shooting five to six minutes every day. Basically, your time to devise, prepare and execute your work is cut in half.”
This is added to a list of problems including weather and rehearsal props and time. And then there were the limitations of lighting:
“The challenge of a long take is always to figure out how to light it without making too many compromises on the aesthetic you are going for. For that reason, we were pretty specific about what the camera would and wouldn’t see. There were small lighting units hidden almost everywhere offscreen.”
The shot is so smooth that it’s easy to forget how much work goes into something like that. It’s one of the high-watermarks of the first season, and something that Arkapaw should be very proud of. Arkapaw and director Fukunaga are both nominated for Emmy’s for their work on the series.
You can check out the rest of the details over at Variety.