Ben Kutchins on the set of Ozark (photo: Andrew Hreha / Netflix)
For Ben Kutchins, the newly Emmy-nominated cinematographer of Netflix’s Ozark, his love of film and filmmaking started out the way it did for a lot of kids; finding an old 35mm camera in a parent’s drawer, dusting it off and giving it a go. Looking at life through a lens became a hobby, then a passion and during college he interned, as many people who are interested in film and live in Northern California do, at Lucasfilm. That internship turned into a job but he saw the tides turning from film to digital and that he was on track to a working at a desk, which he didn’t want.
Pushing back, he left a job offer from Lucasfilm and entered NYU’s film program. It was everything he wanted; shooting over 60 short films, learning the language of film and learning from and with Reed Morano (Emmy-winning director of The Handmaid’s Tale) and Rachel Morrison (Mudbound, and the first ever female director of photography nominated for the Cinematography Oscar).
Throughout his career Kutchins has been inspired by cinematographers like Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubezki (“He moves the camera in the most naturalistic way that I’ve seen of any modern cinematographer”), Roger Deakins (“The best lighting cameraman I’ve ever seen), Gordon Willis (“He knows how to give each location its own beating heart”) and more.
For his work on Netflix’s Ozark, Kutchins earned the first Emmy nomination of his career in the category of Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour). But he’ll tell you he didn’t get there alone (“I take every day as a gift, I don’t take that lightly”). He had been the cinematographer on a film starring Jason Bateman (The Longest Week) and that relationship earned him a spot on Bateman’s team for the Emmy-nominated Netflix hit (“We get excited about the same things, we’re real film nerds”). Working with Stephani Lewis (costume designer) and Derek Hill (production designer, who’s also Emmy-nominated) on finding the look of Ozark, Kutchins calls it a “melding of minds” and “gearing towards the same aesthetic.”
Ozark returns to Netflix for its second season on August 31st. You can watch the trailer here.
The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.
The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th (where Kutchin’s category is slotted) and Sunday, September 9th.
The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.
LISTEN – Interview: Ben Kutchins, Emmy-nominated cinematographer of ‘Ozark’