American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 52

Crimes of Passion
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.
By Patricia Thomson
*|*

M

aking a 19th-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 she
took the leap with Lady Macbeth.

52

July 2017

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 sister. They'd be filming in
Northumberland, one of Britain's most remote areas. To top it
all off, Oldroyd intended to shoot in sequence.
While not a novice, Wegner didn't have a deep filmography either. She'd shot numerous shorts - including two
that snagged awards from the Australian Cinematographers

American Cinematographer



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