Cinematographer Ari Wegner and director William Oldroyd detail the making of Lady Macbeth, a period drama produced on a tight budget and shot in 24 days.
Doing a nineteenth century costume drama for less than a half-million dollars requires a true leap of faith. As cinematographer Ari Wegner observes, “Every frame has to be created. You can’t just go out on the street and shoot.” But the Australian native made a smart bet when taking the leap with Lady Macbeth.
As a project of iFeatures, an initiative that supports emerging British filmmakers, the film had to have a regional setting, be digitally shot, and be do-able for £350,000. Lady Macbeth was the fund’s first costume drama. “I suppose it was one of the things that got us selected in the first place, that we were trying to do something audacious,” says director William Oldroyd. With a solid track record in theater (including residencies at the Young Vic and Royal Shakespeare Company), Oldroyd was exactly the type the fund wanted to support: accomplished in his field but new to feature filmmaking. Still, the audacity of his project didn’t stop with its period setting. Oldroyd would be directing a young, mostly untried cast; the lead (Florence Pugh) was just 19 at the time and had done only one prior feature. What’s more, he’d be working with a child, a horse, and an untrained cat borrowed from the art director’s assistant. They’d be filming in Northumberland, one of Britain’s most remote areas. To top it all off, Oldroyd intended to shoot in sequence. [...] Continue reading below.
Published in the July 2017 issue of American Cinematographer.