Remote production went to a whole new level during the pandemic, and “Outer Range” could serve as television’s Exhibit A. Several members of the show’s crafts team sat down with IndieWire’s Jim Hemphill to discuss the making of the visually complex series. The panel consisted of director Lawrence Trilling, production designer Tommaso Ortino, VFX supervisor Jason Piccioni, editor and producer Travis Baker, and composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.
The thing is, some of them hadn’t met until today.
“Some of us are just meeting each other today or at the premiere,” Trilling said. “We missed the collegial warmth you can have while making a show.”
The television Western is currently having quite the renaissance thanks to “Yellowstone” and its massively popular prequel “1883,” but “Outer Range” has little more than setting in common with its fellow Westerns. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that there is nothing quite like “Outer Range” anywhere on TV.
The series follows a Wyoming rancher attempting to hold onto the land his family has owned for generations when he finds a massive black hole in his field.
Here’s just how far-flung its production was: The show is set in Wyoming but filmed in New Mexico, with post-production taking place in both New York and Los Angeles. Season 1 takes place over just a couple of weeks, which created a challenge because it was winter when they began shooting in New Mexico and summer when they wrapped.
“Sometimes you started and it’s 20 below and other times it’s extremely hot,” VFX producer Piccione said. “And there’s no Grand Teton National Park [near where the show is set] in New Mexico.”
And that’s even more challenging when you consider that every last element of the sets had to be built.
“The ranch didn’t exist,” Ortino said. “We built that from scratch. Everything you see did not previously exist.”
But maybe a sprawling production fits a show that exists in such a transitional space: Is it a Western? Is it sci-fi? Those questions permeated the production, down to the composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans deciding to pursue a musical palette for the series that felt like neither genre. “We decided to take a middle road: a crazy Penderecki opera rather than something that sounded too Western or too sci-fi,” Jurriaans said.
Outer Range was created by Brian Watkins and stars Josh Brolin, Imogen Poots, Lili Taylor, Tom Pelphrey, Tamara Podemski, Lewis Pullman, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos, Olive Abercrombie, and Will Patton.