Web Series: Netflix's <I>Ozark</I>
Issue: September 1, 2017

Web Series: Netflix's Ozark

Netflix’s Ozark stars Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde, a Chicago financial advisor who’s been laundering money for a drug kingpin. When his partner is caught cheating the business, Marty must uproot his family (Laura Linney plays wife, Wendy) and move the operation to the Ozarks, where he has convinced the kingpin that he can recoup his losses. The series ran for 10 episodes and Netflix recently announced that it has renewed it for a 10-episode, Season 2.

In addition to starring in the show, Bateman is also the executive producer and a director. Chris Mundy is executive producer/writer, and Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams also serve as executive producers. The series is produced by Bateman’s Aggregate Films in association with Media Rights Capital for Netflix, and was created by Dubuque and Williams.

Post recently caught up with Andrew Bernstein, who directed two episodes for Season 1 (Episode 5, “Ruling Days” and Episode 6, “Book of Ruth”). He’s currently in discussions to return for Season 2. 

“Chris Mundy, who is one of the executive producers, is a friend of mine,” says Bernstein. “We’ve known each other for a long time and we’ve worked together on an AMC show called Low Winter Sun a few years ago. I’ve been hearing about this show for a long time and he signed me up.”

Bateman directed the pilot, which takes place in Chicago and later, the Ozarks in Missouri. The show shot some photography in the Ozarks, but primarily shoots on two lakes outside of Atlanta, which double for the region.

“When I come into a show, and someone else has done the pilot, I will talk to that person, in this case it was Jason Bateman,” Bernstein explains. 
“I sat down with Jason and watched the pilot and talked to him about what he had in mind for the show — what he was after and the look that he wanted. I try to follow that, but also add my own sensibility and own ideas within that framework, and expand upon the vision...The hope is that over the course of 10 episodes, you have a style and have episodes that are unique in their own way.”

Bernstein says the series is shot with Panasonic’s VariCam, thanks to its compatibility with vintage lenses, and Arri’s Alexa. His two episodes spanned 22 days of production — 11 days for each episode. Four days were then allotted to cut each episode.

“[Jason’s] episodes took place in Chicago and the Ozarks, whereas my episodes only took place in the Ozarks and didn’t have the grittiness of Chicago or some of the other stuff that he did,” Bernstein explains. 

The show’s post production takes place at Runway in Hollywood, where it’s edited using Avid systems.

“I think the challenging aspect of the show is the performance,” says Bernstein. “It’s not a show that relies on visual effects or gadgets or gimmicks. It’s a performance-based show and as a consequence, editorially, you are spending most of your time making sure the performances are as strong as they can be. And with actors of the caliber they have on this show, it’s an embarrassment of riches. But even with an embarrassment of riches, it has to make sense. If you have three great performances to choose from, you still have to choose the best one, and that takes time.”