“Daisy Jones & the Six” Cinematographer Checco Varese on Evoking 70s Vibe Through a Contemporary Lens
Hugh Hart, THE CREDITS
March 16, 2023
Cinematographer Checco Varese won a 2022 Emmy for his gripping treatment of Appalachia’s opioid epidemic in Dopesick before taking on the relatively innocent place and time dramatized in Daisy Jones & the Six. The 10-episode series (adapted from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel), now streaming on Amazon Prime, follows the rise and fall of a mid-seventies Fleetwood Mac-like L.A. band fueled by drugs, sex, and rock and roll.
Varese, who shot six of the show’s ten episodes, including the pilot, summarizes the clash between mercurial Daisy (Riley Keough) and headstrong band leader Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin). “These human beings are lonely. They come from dysfunctional families, so they’re trying to find a family in the music. The singer becomes the father figure; the audience becomes like siblings they never had. If you look at the story under that optic, you can immerse yourself in this world quite simply.”
Speaking from a hotel room near Vancouver, where he’s reuniting with Keough on the true crime series Under the Bridge, Varese explains how he made classic rock’s golden age palatable to contemporary audiences while incorporating iconic locations like Laurel Canyon, the Sunset Strip, and the hippie-magnet Greek island of Hydra.