Behind the Hybrid Cinematography of 'The Homesman'

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto relied on film for the Western’s day shots and digital for its low-light and night shots.
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To shoot Tommy Lee Jones’s period Western The Homesman, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto relied on both film for the movie’s day shots, and digital for its low-light and night shots.

"The result with the Sony F-55 for low light levels was convenient and beautiful to shoot with candles and oil lamps," Prieto tells Indiewire. “But, on the other hand, we preferred the texture of a film negative for the rest of the movie. And a big part of it was the feeling that film negative gave us. Tommy Lee thought digital was too clean and too contemporary for our interpretation of the Western.”

Prieto took inspiration from photographers Josef Koudelka and Ichiro Kojima to depict the landscape’s harsh weather conditions. “[Tommy Lee Jones] had in mind minimalist artist Donald Judd and was keen on the simplicity of composition with land, sky, and the wagon: How we play with flat horizon of Nebraska shot in New Mexico and how much of our widescreen frame, focusing on what the day gave us in terms of weather,” he further explains. “He also liked Josef Albers' theory of color [constantly changing in relation to surrounding colors]. For Tommy Lee, juxtaposing blue sky and golden grass were important."

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