Clubhouse Conversations — Shōgun

Editors’ note: In-depth coverage of Shōgun first appeared in American Cinematographer's April 2024 issue. Read the full story here — and learn more here about how to subscribe to the industry's leading journal of motion-picture production techniques.

In this episode, director of photography Sam McCurdy, ASC, BSC is joined by interviewer Adam Bricker, ASC to discuss his work on Shōgun — the acclaimed FX series based on the 1975 book by James Clavell.

Set in the 17th century, the story of Shōgun is told from the perspective of British navigator John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) — a sailor who lands in Japan and rises from outsider to samurai, while being used as a pawn in a power struggle with Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) at its center. McCurdy shot five episodes of the series' inaugural season, including the finale, entitled "A Dream of a Dream."

Also Read: AC Gallery — More Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Set of Shōgun

In this interview, McCurdy discusses introducing visual elements to help build the show's unique world; the benefits of extensive prep time and working from a start-to-finish series script; the use of mood reels to develop the show's visual language; his use of lightbulb-based oil lamps to create realistic firelight; and leaning into an "aggressive" storytelling mode through his camera and lens choices.

Sam McCurdy, ASC, BSC is a cinematographer whose credits include Game of Thrones, Peacemaker, Into the Badlands and Carnival Row.

Adam Bricker, ASC is a cinematographer whose credits include American Vandal, The Magicians and Sorry for Your Loss.

You’ll find all episodes in our ASC Clubhouse Conversations discussion series here.