American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 22
Question of Faith
By Trevor Hogg
Hulu's The Path follows the journey of Eddie Lane (Aaron
Paul), a follower of a mystical movement that many consider a cult,
who begins to question his beliefs. Upon taking part in a retreat in
Peru, Lane experiences a disturbing vision that shakes his faith in the
tenets of "Meyerism" that have been the foundation of his life for
years. His venture into critical inquiry alienates him from his wife,
Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) - a lifelong Meyerist who's ascending
the "ladder" toward a prominent position - and leads him to some
dark realizations about the movement's leadership.
The show begins with the Meyerists taking full advantage of
a recent tornado in New Hampshire, inviting those in the storm's
disastrous aftermath to stay at their compound - thus increasing
their numbers. As Eddie becomes further removed from his family
and community, Meyerism's de facto leader, Cal Roberts (Hugh
Dancy), takes extreme action to further his own thirst for power and
his mission to radically expand the movement.
For the past two seasons, Yaron Orbach has been faithfully
shooting all of the episodes of The Path. AC caught up with the
Israeli-born, New York City-based director of photography to discuss
his philosophies and techniques.
American Cinematographer: What were your initial
visual goals when you began work on The Path?
Yaron Orbach: Before I was interviewed I had watched
Going Clear, which is [a documentary] about Scientology - it was
a good thematic reference. There is a lot of peer pressure once you
get in and it's hard to get out. We wanted to create two worlds. The
headquarters is in this beautiful and idyllic compound that was shot
in Nyack, New York, at a place called Marydell Faith and Life Center.
On the other hand, we wanted to create a world which mimics the
dark undercurrents that this movement uses to lure people in. [For
example,] when Sarah follows Eddie in the car and he goes to a
motel, we go to a dark place; we use these slow zooms to help the
suspense. Then there are more natural scenes where we want to
show the brighter side of this world.
Tell us about the naturalistic look of the show, which
seems to eschew painterly imagery.
Orbach: I find life to be imperfect in a nice way, meaning I
don't like it to be glamorous. We don't do backlights or back edges.
My image is stripped down, natural and toned. It's about what your
eyes see when you go into a room. I don't want the framing to be
too graphic or composed or beautified. It needs to feel like a real
When Eddie has his visions, which display a supernatural quality, there seems to be a departure from both the
'lighter' and 'darker' looks that you've mentioned.
Orbach: For us, it was finding ways to go into the visions, be
more dramatic, take a creative license, not be afraid to get away
from our naturalistic reality, and to go for something that is more
The Path unit photography by Greg Lewis, courtesy of Hulu.
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