From the private clubs and highrises of New York to the sweltering oil fields of West Texas, B.J. Novak’s “Vengeance,” in theaters July 29, dives into a fish-out-of-water story. “The Office” alum Novak, who also wrote and stars in the dark comedy, plays Ben, a writer for The New Yorker and wannabe podcaster who finds himself traveling to a remote Texas town.

Cinematographer Lyn Moncrief wanted audiences to understand the sudden shift in perspective Ben is experiencing. Early in the film, Ben is in New York trying to pitch his new podcast idea. “It’s a darkly lit scene,” Moncrief explains. It’s nighttime when he gets a call from Ty (Boyd Holbrook), the brother of Abilene (Lio Tipton), a former hookup who has died from an apparent overdose. Ben has been asked to come to the funeral, and on a whim, he does.

As Ben arrives at the airport, Moncrief needed to establish the jump into a vastly different — and very hot — world. “We burnt the highlights and pushed the color timing more,” says the DP. “So when he lands, you can’t quite see, because it’s so bright. It’s like coming out of a dark theater.”

Though Ben might be a savvy big-city guy, the enormity of Texas is a new concept for him. “He’s taking on something that he doesn’t quite understand,” says Moncrief. At one point, he jokes that the only thing he knows about Texas is the SXSW Film Festival. To show the vastness of the state, Moncrief used a lot of wide shots, but as Ben spends more time with Abilene’s family, those shots start getting in closer.

When Ben sits down to meet Abilene’s mother, Sharon (J. Smith-Cameron); sisters Kansas City (Dove Cameron) and Paris (Isabella Almara); little brother El Stupido (Eli Bickel); and Granny Carole (Louanne Stephens) and has a conversation about his relationship to Texas, the lighting enables humor. “We wanted to add comedic brevity to the scene,” says Moncrief. “So we went for a softer, flatter tonal light.” The cinematographer notes there were a lot of improvisational moments in the dialogue, so his framing included as many of the characters as possible.

By the end of the film, that framing shifts. “Things become more isolated with the characters,” says Moncrief. Those shots also establish how Ben has gotten deeper into his journey of finding out more about the family, and has eased into his environment while starting to uncover more about Abilene.

Since Ben is looking to get audio for his “Dead White Girl” podcast and conduct interviews, Novak and Moncrief had numerous conversations about his setup.

Novak wanted to show that Ben is an aspiring podcaster with the equipment (digital podcast recorder, iPhone) to match. Moncrief spent time with podcast producers asking about equipment and observing how they interview people. For the New York office, Ben’s podcast editor Eloise (Issa Rae) had the equipment plugged in with headphones. In contrast, with Ben out in the field gathering interviews, Moncrief made sure to reflect what he had seen in his research — and how the interviewers relied on the recorders. “I would look at how they held those things,” he says, “where everything went, and show that.”