That 6-minute steadicam shot on Sunday night's True Detective (AKA: "The best fucking show on television") was 6 minutes of incredible, insanely intense awesomeness. According to Kevin P. Sullivan of MTV.com, this is how they pulled it off:
This is what director Cary Fukunaga has to say about the importance of this "into the heart of darkness" sequence:
Before reaching the halfway point of the series, Fukunaga decided to end the episode with a six-minute oner, or long take, that follows Cohle into a heist inside a housing project, through a number of shootouts, outside to escape from swarming police, through another house, over a fence and finally into Hart's car. It's the kind of incredible shot that's worth watching again and again to catch every detail in it and further blurs the line between television and film.
Reading Nic Pizzolatto's script for "Who Goes There," Fukunaga knew almost immediately that the heist was the scene to make his oner. All he had to do was convince the entire crew that it wasn't impossible to pull off.
To cover as much ground as he wanted to in the sequence, Fukunaga needed to shoot in an actual housing project, and that was the first complication in planning the oner. It took weeks to even get permission to film on-location, but once he received it, Fukunaga went straight into mapping the shot and finding "the most interesting path, but also the most logical path" for Cohle to escape with Ginger. That interesting and logical path eventually takes Cohle and Ginger over a chain-link fence, a maneuver that proved to be the most complicated of the intricate sequence.
Watching just the fences portion of the oner back, the camera floats over the high barrier in a movement that almost looks effortless. Getting the shot, however, was anything but. Because the location was an actual housing project, the "True Detective" crew wasn't allowed to take down any portion of the fence, so they had to improvise. "At one point, we were going to build a ramp, and the operator was going to walk up it," Fukunaga said. "But that wasn't very safe." The solution ended up involving placing the Steadicam operator on an elevated jib, or a weighted crane, which carried him over the fence and back down to earth.
Once the camera movements were figured out, the production carefully choreographed everything that had to happen in front of the lens with the help of a stunt team led by Mark Norby, who personally worked with McConaughey to develop a fighting style for Cohle. The crew even built a replica of the stash house for the stunt team to practice in before the big shoot.
Read more at MTV.com.