For “The Homesman,” How Did Rodrigo Prieto Approach the Cinematography?


Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto is known for his aptitude at capturing beautiful, natural shots that help transform a film’s setting into their own characters. Having worked on very different films like 8 Mile (2002) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), his work in the “expansive landscape” genre may be more familiar with audiences through his work on Ang Lee’s Best Picture-nominee Brokeback Mountain (2005).

In an interview with Indiewire, Prieto said, “Period movies are something I really enjoy and this story of “The Homesman”... As soon as I read the script I knew that I had to do it.”

Creating the atmosphere of The Homesman (2014) was a collaborative process between Prieto and Tommy Lee Jones, who both lent their voice.

“In the case of “The Homesman,” from the very beginning, the very day I met Tommy Lee, we started talking about minimalism and I even said, “Why don’t we shoot this on black and white?” and he said “No, for me color is very important.” He even mentioned Josef Albers in terms of theories of color and color combination. From the very beginning he had a pretty clear idea of some of the style of the movie, but then of course when we started actually preparing for the movie and being location in New Mexico, I showed him a lot of reference images, photography in particular. He had his own images as well. And that was what we used as a basis for being more specific about things we wanted.”

Shooting in widescreen was an obvious decision to capture the natural surroundings of the characters.

“Because most of our story happens in Nebraska, although we shot it in New Mexico, the flat landscape lent itself to wide screen simply because of the composition—we were playing with how much sky or ground could fit in the frame. And then the wagon. So it’s a very simple element. The composition is simple.”