Adam Bernstein directed the initial pair of episodes, shot by Matthew Lloyd, CSC, and transferred the film's beige/blue/red color palette to the town of Bemidji, Minnesota (though the series was shot in Calgary). Cinematographer Dana W. Gonzales shot the last scene of the pilot and then took over as cinematographer with Episode Three.
FARGO'S CINEMATIC DIALECT
Both dramatically and visually, the series leans not only on the Fargo feature, but also on the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men. "Fortunately, one of our on-set creative producers, John Cameron, has done seven films with the Brothers, and served as a reference and authority for all things Coen," says Gonzales. "It turns out that until Roger Deakins started shooting for them and using 35mm to 40mm lenses, they had stayed pretty much on an 18mm. We struck a bit of a balance, deciding we wanted to be sure and stick with wider lenses. When using a 21mm or a 25mm, or even a 40mm, there often isn't room to fit in another camera, but we let the scenes play in our frames. When I came on for Episode Three, I brought a jib arm, which is a tool Roger Deakins uses on nearly everything, so that also helped keep us in the Coen style."
Some of Fargo's visual distinctiveness comes right from the top. "Showrunner Noah Hawley loves to hold on shots for a long while," Gonzales reports. "That's something TV directors have to get their heads around. On most shows, they won't even try using a big camera move or dolly because they know it will get cut to bits. We're making TV, but in a feature film-like fashion."