NBC’s Found Director of Photography Anthony Harwick on Capturing Intense Moments

What are you willing to do to save someone? What are you willing to sacrifice to make sure someone is found? Who are you willing to work with to get inside of the mind of a kidnapper? For Gabi Mosely she’s willing to do everything to secure the safe return of a missing person, no matter what it costs her or whom she has to work with. For Gabi it’s not just a job, it’s her legacy.

NBC’s Found is a procedural drama that speaks to the disadvantaged. The people who are easily ignored because of their race, gender and sexuality. Over 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. In the series, Gabi Mosely (Shanola Hampton) and her crisis management team aim to find the missing. Unknown to her team, Gabi is carrying a dark secret that could bring down not just her firm but cist her freedom, but the secret weapon is too powerful to ignore and provides an endless resource of insight into the mind of an abductor.

Behind her poised persona and onscreen appearances, the life she crafted is a lie. Dep within the walls of her home lies a complicated unethical secret that both exciting and tense for fans to explore as they watch the madness unfold.

In celebration of Found, The Koalition spoke to Director of Photography, Anthony Hardwick (ShamelessBoratLast Man on Earth) to learn how the show builds the intensity, Hardwick uses natural environment to build its world, bringing the show’s characters to life through light and design and more.

FOUND — “Missing While a Pawn” Episode 104 — Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Sir — (Photo by: Matt Miller/NBC)

“With this series I like to delve into character a lot when we’re breaking down scripts and had the good fortune of my first episode for the series, episode two, was done with the director Domaine Davis who also did the pilot. I thought [that was] really beneficial because she had a really great grasp of what the story was all about. She helped set the whole tone of the series and so I had that wonderful resource and benefit of all of her knowledge. But I really like to get into it with the director and kind of explore the subtext of what characters are going through, the psychological profiles, especially in a show like this that has such complex issues of trauma being dealt with by all the main characters and of course a dark secret for Shinola’s character. I kind of like to think about what they’re going through both on the surface level of what they’re trying to project to the world and what they’re really dealing with underneath and if there is a way to highlight that with lighting and composition. I incorporate those kinds of elements. [The] contrast and light and dark and shadows are a big part of what helps to accentuate what Shinola’s character in particular is going through.”

Filled with twists and turns, Found focuses on people who have been overlooked by the system, largely people of color. The team will stop at nothing to solve these cases because every one of the team has firsthand experienced a personal trauma, including Gabi, who’s hiding a chilling secret — she has her childhood kidnapper locked up in her basement, and she’s using him to help her find the missing.

It’s a deliciously sinister plot twist with themes and tone reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs and The Usual Suspects that makes you wonder, who is outsmarting whom. Working closely with creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll to set the tone of the series, Hardwick helped to build a show where the audience can expect the unexpected. Filming in various locations, Found’s visuals rely heavily on natural light and practical settings.

“I always approach [each location] initially both with having broken down the script and what’s going on in the story. I approach it very much with having the location in mind and what the naturalistic way that something would be lit in a location like that would be that’s the starting point and then you can depart from that quite a bit depending especially in flashbacks or things that become a little more psychological in nature, you can enhance things or go a little bit beyond reality per se but I always like to start with a naturalistic standpoint first.”

FOUND — “Missing While Widowed” Episode 103 — Pictured: (l-r) Ezra Knight as Cliff, Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely — (Photo by: Matt Miller/NBC)

“If we’re talking about an interior, I think about windows and I think about the practicals within the environment. For example, I was thinking earlier about the barn house, where in the flashback she’s held as a 16-year-old young girl and in that environment, the windows were all boarded up. The windows aren’t really heavily available as a source of lighting, even in the daylight scenes we did do some heavy shafts of light which I think was very dramatic with a little bit of atmosphere to show those shafts coming through the slats or the slits between the windows. We couldn’t really use that as a primary source, the way I might if they were normal windows in the house, so you start with what you have and so in an environment like that, largely it was the practicals that motivated the lighting the chandelier over the dining table or light bulbs in various areas to highlight that right.”

“I came on after the pilot had been shot previously so some of the sets had already been designed and there were many changes that we did throughout the season and also because from the pilot to when we began, certain props simply weren’t available any longer that were available when they originally did the pilot, so there are minor changes here and there but we always do dress and try to dress to help in various ways for shooting the location. For example, sometimes just a big blank white wall is something you want to break up and work with the art department and certainly help to make it visually more interesting so you can shoot in all the different angles and not sort of have a really boring or flat kind of background. That’s big part of scouting and tech scouting as well.”

“As far as different skin color and tones and how to light different people together, that’s just something that I think I had the good fortune of from early on having done a lot of different kinds of projects and work with a lot of people of color in front of the camera. I think all the accumulated knowledge that I have both as in my career as a DP but also when I was starting out earlier as an AC and working for other DPS and seeing how they lit things, all that kind of comes into sort of what makes you do what you do. They always say, ‘you take 10 different DPS and give them a scene to light and they’ll light it 10 different ways.'”

The beauty about Found is that the audience doesn’t know who to trust. Gabi’s office is surrounded by glass yet, everything on display, yet her life is a mystery. Sir is the villain and yet he’s helping Gabi save people from people just like him. Sir and Gabi’s relationship is hidden in the basement in secret and yet they’re both honest with each other. Hardwick has to light a scene that both reflects the truth and the lie while bringing out each character’s personality.

FOUND — “Missing While a Pawn” Episode 104 — Pictured: (l-r) Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Sir — (Photo by: Matt Miller/NBC)

“You want to try to have an identity for every character in a way and if you can reflect that with lighting Andor Lens Troy and composition. We always try to find ways to visually highlight the things that are happening [like the] subtext and also on the surface but every character has their own [lighting]. Mark Paul Gossler, for example, in his captivity sequences he’s a pretty dark character and there’s a lot of psychological gamesmanship going on there. So, in his environment, I try to play a lot with the windows for hard side lighting, also the practical lights and working that as dramatically as possible but a lot of contrast between the light and the dark within those frames.”

“When a character is lying or having some subterfuge, if you can convey that with lighting, just lens angle and height for example you can accentuate certain things and I like playing around with that. I like playing with reflections too which sometimes has so many glass surfaces. If you can play around with reflections and have one person within a shot, let’s say of Shanola, one of the other characters reflected in the back background in addition, I think it’s interesting to play with that when there’s a little bit of a cat and mouse thing going on.”

To learn more about Found and how emotional impacts the visuals and lighting in a scene, check out the audio below for the full interview.

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