"Put all your energy into storytelling and trust your instincts" Ozark Cinematographer Ben Kutchins

Mandy News talks to Cinematographer Ben Kutchins from the hit show Ozark. He shared some valuable advice for people wanting to join the Camera Department and how to become a successful cinematographer

1st March 2019
/ By James Collins

Ben Kutchins IMDB

Please introduce yourself and tell us how you got involved with the camera, and how this took you to work in the film/TV industry?  

I’m a New York based cinematographer whose focus is narrative storytelling. I started out as a still photographer. At around 20 years old I got an internship at Lucasfilm which turned into a full time position. From there I went to NYU where I met other filmmakers and started working in the industry. 

How did you get involved with 'Ozark'?

I shot a movie with Jason Bateman years ago. He was a fan of the way that film looked and when Ozark came up, we had a quick Skype meeting and both jumped at the chance to work together. 

What is the process of working on the show, what is your turn around for an episode, what do you shoot on?

We shoot blocks of two episodes at a time with the same director and AD team. We shoot the show pretty fast... shooting around five pages per day. We shoot on the Panasonic Varicam with Cooke s4 lenses. 

Do you have a preferred set of equipment you like to work with, if so could you tell us what you like about it?

Telling all these diverse stories is the greatest gift of being a filmmaker. The narrative drives everything for me, so there are no favourite pieces of gear. Everything is decided based on what will best tell the story and each story is different, so I never let the gear dictate the narrative...just the opposite. 

What advice do you have for people wanting to become a part of the Camera Department and to become a successful Cinematographer like yourself? 

I think it’s important to put aside the technology aspect of what we do. Once you have a basic understanding of the gear, put all your energy into storytelling. Pay special attention to your instincts, trust your gut, and trust your heart. 

How do you respond to what’s in front of you? How does it feel? 

Trust that. And don’t try to copy other people’s work... that will happen without you even trying.