Set Report: BritBox's Crime TV series

KFTV talks to DoP Will Pugh about putting Sony Venice through its paces in the 'gritty realism' of urban Scotland for the Crime TV series

By Andy Fry 20 Jul 2021

Set Report: BritBox's Crime TV series
Will Pugh filming Crime

Will Pugh was brought in as DoP on Crime, an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel for streaming platform BritBox. Co-produced by Buccaneer Media and Off Grid Film & TV, Crime is the first Welsh work to have been adapted for TV. Crime sees Doug Ray Scott play DI Ray Lennox, a detective investigating the disappearance of a schoolgirl while battling his personal demons.

Shot around Glasgow and Edinburgh, the show was billed by director James Strong as “a dark, visceral, shocking ride” which is “grounded in gritty realism”. Picking up the story, Will Pugh says, “we didn’t want any psychedelic sequences but equally James wanted Crime to be quirkier than a standard procedural cop drama. We wanted it to feel organic, real and spontaneous but also to have some striking graphic elements to the storytelling.”

For this reason, Pugh opted for a fluid hand-held approach, off-set by significant track & dolly work. “We liked the idea of shooting a TV show without a single Steadicam, gimbal or drone shot. The raw intimacy of handheld and the graphic objectivity of the dolly gave us two tones to flip between. We approached the location work with a single camera, splintering off the B-camera to look for documentary-style footage; then on the sets we brought in a proper crew and ran two cameras."

Pugh adopted a similarly naturalistic philosophy with lighting on Crime. “I’ve always admired those British DoPs like Barry Ackroyd, Chris Menges and Sean Bobbit who came through documentary and knew how to make the most of what was already available,” he says. “Looking at the schedule and not wanting to make a rod from my own back I aimed to keep it simple and naturalistic – not being afraid to work with available or practical lighting sources - but to keep it bold.” 

The decision to use the Sony Venice came after meticulous research, says Pugh. “It boasts a lot of great functionality, but highlights include its capabilities in low light and its sophisticated colour. It’s ergonomic and well-balanced, which was important given the emphasis on handheld. There was the option of shooting with full frame, but that didn't feel right for the show’s gritty urban landscapes.” Crime was primarily shot on TLS rehoused Canon-K35s, which provided a natural look and feel, says Pugh. This was supported by Angenieux Optimo compact zooms, though he steered clear of anamorphic lenses “which would have felt out of place on a housing estate.”

This interview piece is part of our comprehensive 'Special Report about the latest Cameras and Lenses', which you can read here....

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