There’s something creepy yet haunting about “The Path,” in which a tornado levels a town and enables a religious cult to expand its power as an extended family. The central conflict revolves around the ambitions of charismatic leader Cal (Hugh Dancy), the crisis of faith for follower Eddie (Aaron Paul) and the precarious impact on his marriage to Sarah (Michelle Monaghan).
With the support of director Mike Cahill, exec producer Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights”) and creator Jessica Goldberg, there was a freedom to be minimalistic and observational. This certainly impacted the cinematography of Yaron Orbach and co-editor Tad Dennis.
“I visually played with two worlds: the facade of it, which is very organic and very natural, and the darker undercurrents you start learning about with these people and how they’re recruited [and treated],” explained Orbach, who shot with the Red Dragon. “I used a lot of natural light and bounce light and I allowed myself to go extremely dark at night.”
In addition, the pilot introduces strange flashbacks during a Peru retreat in which Eddie is confronted by the ghost of his dead brother. These were shot in a more hyper-real fashion. “We’re not sure whether it’s an hallucination or supernatural and I used available firelight to give it a reddish quality,” Orbach added.
For instance, a campfire scene during the retreat reveals how Cal manipulates Eddie’s vulnerability. It’s the catalyst for his emotional descent. Or the uncomfortable moment when a young addict (Emma Greenwell) throws herself sexually at Cal, and the conflict it arouses in him between immediate and delayed gratification.
Both the cinematographer and editor pointed a favorite moment in the pilot when Sarah spies Eddie entering a hotel room to meet with another woman, punctuated by a slow zoom.