Given the long-standing history of the Western on the big screen, how does a director of photography make the genre his own? You certainly don’t dismiss history, but rather embrace it, which is what cinematographer Paul Cameron did during the pilot episode of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s HBO TV series adaptation of Michael Crichton’s 1973 film Westworld.
Filming in such classic oater locations as the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, CA, Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, CA, and Dead Horse Point in Moab, Utah, Cameron, Nolan and Joy found inspiration in John Ford and Sergio Leone’s canon. But they thought out of the box when it came to a safe heist scene led by black hat host Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro). In addition, Cameron provided the series with a signature landscape camera pan to convey that “The Park is watching you,” says the DP.
A vital shot to establish during the pilot: Exactly where is this park?
Cameron, who worked extensively with the late Tony Scott on Man On Fire and Deja Vu as well as co-lensing Michael Mann’s groundbreaking digital shoot of Los Angeles in Collateral with Dion Beebee, expounds on his process for Westworld and how much Easter Egg planting went on during the production of the first episode.