A Conversation With ‘The Power of the Dog’ Cinematographer Ari Wegner

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Wegner calls Campion’s way of working “a huge revelation” that changed how she sees creative endeavors. “Before this film I thought that you find solutions by putting in more work and pushing harder.” She recalls Campion breezily asking, when Wegner was deep in creative frustration, “Have you got your bathers with you?” At first, Wegner balked, she recalls, thinking, “We have so much work to do! How could we possibly go for a swim right now?” She went reluctantly, and “lo and behold, you feel a lot better than you did before swimming, even if you don’t necessarily come up with solutions.” 

She continues: “To have a nap, go for a walk, have a sleep, cook a meal are productive too. Creativity is a fragile thing, and you have to feel good, safe, and relaxed for an idea to come. Just pushing doesn’t guarantee the result.”

Wegner on the set.Photo: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

Wegner is an anomaly in a field that’s still predominantly, stubbornly male—in 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated its very first woman in the cinematography category: Rachel Morrison for Mudbound. “It gets me riled up to think that in 93 years of Oscars there’s only been one woman nominated,” Wegner says, her voice rising. “It’s a real shame that we’re only pulling from half of the talent pool. Think about how many more amazing cinematographers we could know if that was an option for everyone to pursue.” 

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