Continuing our look inside FOX's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, BFTV recently spoke with the production's director of photography - and director of several episodes - Bill Pope, to discuss how he helped make the amazing science event hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson (pictured above in a scene from tonight's installment) come to life.
"I have no scientific background," he laughed. "I went to architecture school. I've taken courses like physics in college and so forth. But other than just being a nerd in general...it would be a stretch."
What Bill brought to Cosmos was award-winning cinematography. He's worked on such movies as the Matrix trilogy, Spider-Man 2 and 3, and Marvel's upcoming Ant-Man. With some pretty great credits on his resume, which one could possibly be his favorite? "Scott Pilgrim [vs. the World]," Bill said. "I want Scott Pilgrim on my grave."
How does working on this television miniseries compare to those big-budget feature films? You might be surprised. "It's almost seamless. There's really no difference [other than] your script is about different things," he told us. "This had a lot of ad-libbing going on in it, because even though it's a scripted documentary, you're still going to places and dealing with weather and reality."
In addition to his work as the director of photography, Bill is also one of the directors of Cosmos, alternating episodes with executive producer Brannon Braga. But while you may only see one name in the credits, he told us that in reality, it was very much a team effort.
"We just simply divided up the credits, to be honest with you," he explained. "The two of us met together for months designing the show and shot-listing the thing and deciding how it works. We were at most of the locations together...The credit that you see is basically a flip of a coin."
As a result, the directorial part of his job didn't really add much more to his workload. "You're always busy. Every job on a set is all-consuming," he commented. "It's fun, though. It's fun to be fully engaged."
At the top of this article is a clip from tonight's episode of Cosmos.
Ultimately all the pieces added up to a project that Bill is as proud of as any major Hollywood blockbuster he's ever done. "There's 800 pages of script. I don't know how many minutes that comes to, but [it's] 13 episodes. It just goes on and on," he reflected. "In every episode, there's something that blows my mind still when I see it.
"The ones that move me most are, I think, the ones that are tightly woven stories. The story of lead [in episode seven, 'The Clean Room'], which is probably the simplest episode, still moves me."
"I'd say it was an amazing project," he continued. "I really want it to go out to a new generation. Not to sound cliche here, but I have a son who was affected by the first one, and I would like to see that same effect on a new generation."
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey continues on FOX tonight at 9 PM ET/PT. The miniseries will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 10.