‘Ozark’ Creator Explains Why the Show Is So Blue

by Leanne Stahulak

Avid “Ozark” fans might have noticed a peculiar stylistic choice made by the showrunners throughout the last four seasons of the show.

It’s consistent from Season 1 through Season 4 Part 1 (and we’re guessing going into Season 4 Part 2 as well). But the choice in question is the fact that many scenes are tinted blue. Sure, “Ozark” covers some pretty dark and intense topics. And they want the visual effects to mimic that. But why blue?

“I think both Jason Bateman and I wanted to do something that was unique and unique to ‘Ozark’ that created a distinct look,” head cinematographer Ben Kutchins told Decider back in 2018.

Bateman is an executive producer on “Ozark” and he’s also directed several episodes. And, obviously, he stars as Marty Byrde, the main character. Kutchins, per Cosmopolitan, has won two Emmys for his cinematography work on the show so far.

Two films specifically influenced Kutchins’ stylistic choices with the Netflix series. He credits Gordon Willis’ 1971 film “Klute,” as well as David Michod’s 2010 movie “Animal Kingdom.”

‘Ozark’ Cinematographer Speaks on Decision to Go Blue For Show

“From the beginning, we really [tried to make bold choices],” Kutchins told Decider. “And I think it stood out in the way that we tell stories, the way that we color correct the episodes, the way that we move the camera, and the way that the camera relates to the characters.”

To make the blue effect, Kutchins and the crew use an in-camera cyan tilt as well as specific single-source lights, per Cosmopolitan. Post-production also plays a role in correcting the color to the exact shade the showrunners want it to be.

The reason for this shade of blue is not only for visual aesthetic, though. It also sends a message about the story itself.

“We don’t know if the Byrd family is going to make it through this, you know? And at every corner there’s a new adversary and a new puzzle to be solved. There’s a new riddle,” Hutchins said. “For me, the really interesting thing that we lean into in making a show that’s this dark is like what is in the shadows over there? Is there somebody lurking in the shadows? And what’s beneath the surface of the lake? What’s that thing that’s just beneath the surface of the story that’s terrifying the audience?”

“Ozark” fans know that plenty of terrible things have hidden under the surface of the show.

“My hope was that the audience would really lean forward into it and be looking around the frame to see what’s lurking in the shadows. I want the audience to be engaged and to draw them in,” Kutchins said. “There are movies and shows where you really have to shut off your devices and shut off your brain and really have to lean in. I’m happy that Ozark is one of those.”