Most recently, the Swedish cinematographer photographed the acclaimed HBO limited series The Plot Against America, for which he was nominated for a 2020 Emmy.
Coming from a family full of engineers, new Society member Martin Ahlgren was expected to attend KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. But the young man, who was born in Scotland to Swedish parents and grew up in Stockholm, instead chose to attend a 16mm film course. “From a young age I was always working on some creative project: drawing comic books, writing long serial stories [or] editing a role-playing fanzine,” Ahlgren says. “As a teenager, I started making short films on the family’s Hi8 camera, and this soon consumed me.”
During his film course, the young man directed a short film that took him to festivals in Italy and the Czech Republic. Following this, Ahlgren served in the national military and attended Stockholm University for a year before attending School of Visual Arts in New York. It was there that he realized he was most interested in the visual aspect of storytelling and decided to focus on cinematography. He photographed some 25 student films during this time, which led to an ASC Karl Struss Heritage Award honorable mention.
For the next decade, Ahlgren almost exclusively photographed music videos and commercials. “I saw it as an opportunity to hone my craft, and I gave myself the condition that on each project I had to do something I had never done before — making sure to mix endorphins with a healthy dose of anxiety,” he says.
What brought him into episodic filmmaking, he says, was Tim Ives, ASC, who asked Ahlgren to alternate with him on the Starz series Power. Since then, he has photographed Season 3 of House of Cards, for which he received an Emmy nomination, as well as Season 2 of Daredevil and Season 1 of Altered Carbon. His television credits also include the pilots of NBC’s Blindspot, TNT’s Civil, Hulu’s Crash & Burn and AMC’s NOS4A2 (pronounced Nosferatu).
Most recently, Ahlgren photographed the acclaimed HBO limited series The Plot Against America, for which he was nominated for a 2020 Emmy. The cinematographer spoke about his work in the series in a 2020 Clubhouse Conversation.