JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL "City Primeval" Episode 1 (Airs Tuesday, July 18) Pictured: Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens. CR: FX
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv “Justified: City Primeval” just became the most visually exciting series on television

“Justified: City Primeval” just became the most visually exciting series on television

JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL "City Primeval" Episode 1 (Airs Tuesday, July 18) Pictured: Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens. CR: FX

Director Michael Dinner has been with FX’s “Justified” since the beginning, directing the series premiere in 2010. In that episode, Dinner established the dichotomy that defined the show when he framed hero Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) in his cowboy hat with a satellite dish over his shoulder. “I said, ‘Well, there’s showbiz style right there,'” Dinner told IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “It’s a postmodern Western.”

The new season of ‘Justified’, ‘Justified: City Primeval’ takes the tension between classic Western iconography and modern life to another level, bringing Givens and his old sense of morality and justice to the streets of Detroit . Dinner returned as director of episodes 1, 2 and 8, and as co-showrunner and executive producer, he is responsible for maintaining the visual style of the series. What’s remarkable is how often Dinner finds new ways to present situations that we’ve seen hundreds of times on television; car chases, raids on suspects’ homes, and even basic interrogation sequences are shot in ways that feel fresh without seeming forced or overly self-conscious in their attempt to be different.

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The first episode has a lot of cinematic prowess, but Dinner saves its best shot for last. Toward the end of the hour, Raylan drives to the crime scene that will supercharge the rest of the series, and Dinner captures his arrival in one elaborate continuous shot: the camera starts in the sky above Givens’ car, follow him as he approaches the bodies, back away from him through a fired-on vehicle as he examines it and the body inside, then follows Givens again and does a 360-degree move while being questioned by his colleagues.

For Dinner, the shot was a way to express the turning point that crime marks in Raylan’s life. Because of this, Dinner wanted the scene to be a visual change from the frantic car chase that preceded it. “As a director, you have to find a rhythm, and if you’ve been in a sequence with heavy coverage with no shots that last longer than a second, it gives you permission to do something different in the next scene. You don’t want to be lulled into a rhythm that’s the same from scene to scene.

Dinner and cinematographer John Lindley decided that they wanted to find a way to cover Raylan’s arrival at the crime scene from multiple perspectives without cutting to draw the viewer into Raylan’s perspective and contrast with the heavy car chase of the montage. Once the decision was made to cover the material in one fell swoop, the task became figuring out how to execute it.

“Justified: Primordial City”fx extension

The first step was to mount the camera on a drone that followed Raylan’s car from above as it approached the location; once Raylan stopped, the drone came down and a cameraman stepped in to grab it. (That operator was dressed as a policeman so he could be on scene while the drone was in use). pass the camera through the back seat of the car. Raylan puts his head on the passenger side of the front seat as the camera is switched to a grip who is sitting in the back seat and able to continue the shot, who switches it to another operator who is waiting outside the door.

The magnets on the car doors allowed for a fluid motion that seems to defy the laws of physics for a moment. “What you don’t see is that the doors are kind of thrown back into play,” Dinner said. “So it looks like we go through the machine magically.” Then came the 360-degree move, which closes the shot and underscores the chaos that is about to engulf Raylan’s life.

“It was amazing to hear what Raylan was feeling in the middle of all of this — which was just a shit show at that point, what happened in history,” Dinner said. While filming a TV show was difficult (“In a feature film, you’d have hours and hours to rehearse it”), Dinner believes the pressure made the scene better. “There’s something about this adrenaline-pumping way of shooting, of telling a story. It makes you go instinctively. Sometimes a short program makes you a better director.

New episodes of “Justified: City Primeval” air on FX every Tuesday.

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