Tico Poulakakis (‘Foundation’ cinematographer): Shooting the visionary sci-fi saga was ‘both terrifying and exciting’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“It’s famously unadaptable and unfathomable,” declares cinematographer Tico Poulakakis about the epic Apple TV+ epic space opera “Foundation.” For our recent webchat he adds, “It was a both terrifying and exciting to read. Both the fact that it was such a big thing and that it was both terrifying and exciting is what made me sign on,” he reveals. Watch our exclusive video interview above

“Foundation” is based on the series of short stories and novels by acclaimed author Isaac Asimov, and is created by David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight”) and Josh Friedman (“Avatar 2”). After premiering on the streamer last fall, Apple was so confident about its future that it renewed the show for a second season before the first season concluded. The series stars Emmy nominees Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”) and Jared Harris (“Mad Men” and “Chernobyl”), alongside a huge ensemble cast including Lou LlobellLeah HarveyLaura BirnTerrence MannDaniel MacPherson and Cassian Bilton. It chronicles the thousand year saga of a band of exiles and a Galactic Empire in decline, across an expansive universe of civilizations.

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Poulakakis was one of seven DPs charged with bringing the show to life on screen, lensing the third (“The Mathematician’s Ghost”), fourth (“Barbarians at the Gate”) and fifth (“Upon Awakening”) episodes of the 10-episode freshman season. All three of his episodes were directed by two-time Emmy-winning helmer Alex Graves (“the West Wing”), who Poulakakis loved working with as they shared a similar sensibility about the best way to approach their part of the expansive and ambitious saga.

“With David Goyer and director Alex Graves, we leaned into, as much as we could, a bit of naturalism or tried to keep it somewhat less than ‘spacey’ in a way, to try to ground it in some kind of visual reality,” he explains. “Because it was easy enough to get excited and let it get away from you and suddenly you’ve got all these crazy colors and all these crazy lights doing crazy things. So, part of it was not wanting to be a visual distraction, obviously trying to ground that epic story into a naturalistic approach to some degree.”

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