Director of ‘See’ for Apple TV+ talks development, budget, and more in new interview

Apple TV+

On Friday, November 1, Apple launched its video streaming service, Apple TV+. With it came a handful of shows including one called See, which stars Jason Momoa (AquamanGame of Thrones) and Alfre Woodard (The Lion King), among others.

See is a post-apocalyptic tale about survival and the continuation of a species following a virus that wiped out the majority of the human population. Making survival a bit more difficult than most post-apocalyptic stories is the fact the characters in this sci-fi/fantasy series are all blind. That leads to some interesting set pieces, and for a unique story, one that Apple will be continuing into a second season after the first wraps up.

Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games) is an executive producer and the director of See‘s many episodes. He recently sat down with Business Insider to talk about the show, the budget, development, and much more. There is definitely a lot to go through, and if you’re a fan of hearing about how a show gets developed, and what goes on in the process, it’s definitely worth a read.

To start, developing the series led Lawrence to tap a lot of people for their expertise and experiences. That included blind consultants and even an evolutionary biologist. A survivalist was also included in the process, all in the effort to build a semi-realistic world after it’s all fallen apart:

I’m not sure about spin-offs, but there was definitely a lot of thought about building the world. We had a think tank with blind consultants and an evolutionary biologist and a survivalist, and all these different people come in to brainstorm ideas. How long after civilization had vanished does the story take place and what would things look like and what would remain? We built out a blindness bootcamp with our consultants and [figured out] how that crosses over with our art and props department. What do the huts [in the village] look like? How are people navigating?

Interestingly, when the budget was brought up (because of course it was), Lawrence did admit that the show is expensive, but that earlier rumors suggesting it costs $240 million for two seasons is “blown out of proportion”.

(This is a similar point that Mimi Leder, the director and executive producer of another Apple TV+ series, The Morning Show, said about that show, saying the budget rumors are way off track.)

Some shows (and films) work differently with CGI and practical effects, and sometimes the use of computer generated images can be pretty surprising. For instance, in an effort to reduce potential damage to some actors’ eyes, the effect of appearing blind is, in fact, an effect and not some kind of contact lens:

They’re effects. It’s too many people over too long a time in real environments, and the number of optometrists that would be needed [was too much] … I didn’t want to run the risk of scratching anybody’s cornea and having people complain about wearing them.

Most of the show was also shot “on location”, which means the production avoided a set for as long as possible. That’s pretty obvious in the first few episodes available to watch (episodes 1 through 3 are available now, with subsequent episodes coming on a weekly basis), as the show is not only beautifully shot, but the setting is also inherently epic in scale and scope. And beautiful to look at, too.

I don’t know if I can give you a percentage, but we shot, for the most part, on location for the first five episodes, and episodes seven and eight, as well. We didn’t step on stage until episode six. So we were always in real environments, which would sometimes get augmented with visual effects. Sometimes we would have to make a village a little bigger than we could afford to build, or when we’re shooting inside Queen Kane’s dam, we were inside a huge abandoned paper mill on Vancouver Island. It was so vast we couldn’t age it all appropriately for the time period.

For the most part, everything is real. We’re not doing crowd duplications and things like that, but sometimes we’d have to augment real environments.

The full interview is worth a read, and you can catch it at Business Insider.

I reviewed the first episode of See last week, “Godflame”, and found the show to be both silly, funny (in not necessarily the right ways), but also particularly beautiful to look at and well-acted for what the actors are given to work with. I’ll have reviews of each upcoming episode when they launch, so we’ll get to see how it all comes together through the end.

If you’ve checked out See are you planning on watching the entire season?