Interviewer Michael M. Pessah, ASC talks to cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis about how he and series co-creator Aziz Ansari collaborated to take this award-winning Netflix series in a new visual direction.
A departure from previous seasons of the show, the five-episode Season 3 — titled Master of None Presents: Moments in Love — focuses the character Denise (Lena Waithe) and her partner, Alicia (Naomi Ackie) over the course of several years. Ansari (who only briefly appears in the season) directed and co-wrote with Waithe.
Shooting in London, Bakatakis employed 16mm film (Kodak Vision3 7219 500T and 7213 200T, as well as 7203 50D for exteriors) to capture a unique perspective and texture — as suggested by Ansari. The filmmakers largely depicted the story in wide tableaus, often with formal, center-framed compositions. They shot little coverage, reflecting an overall minimalist style, using very limited optics, almost exclusively Arri Ultra 16 primes. He processed normally, at Cinelab London.
Born in Athens, Greece, Bakatakis studied at the Hellenic Cinema and Television School Stavrakos, where he met fellow student Yorgos Lanthimos. The two would build a fruitful collaboration, resulting in the feature films Kinetta, Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
The cinematographer’s other features include Hardcore, Attenberg, Porfirio, L, Keep the Lights On, Blind, Una and The Lodge.
He also works in the theater as a lighting designer
Pessah began his film education as an intern at Curious Pictures, where he served as an assistant and worked with two top commercial cinematographers. He received his B.A. from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and his M.F.A. in cinematography from the American Film Institute (AFI).
Early in his career, Pessah shot a number of shorts before photographing the 2012 black-and-white biographical drama/horror feature Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean. That same year, he was recognized by the Outfest film festival series “Five in Focus,” which highlighted emerging talent behind the camera and on the screen. He was the first cinematographer to be named in the series.
After photographing episodes of several scripted and unscripted/recreation series, Pessah followed with his second black-and-white feature, Guys Reading Poems. His other feature credits include Saving Flora, The Rachels, Only Mine, House of Darkness and Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime, among others.
His scripted television work includes Insecure: Due North (a fictional soap opera within the world of HBO’s Insecure), Evil Things, My Haunted House and Lost Gold.
He became a member of the ASC in 2020.
You'll find all ASC Clubhouse Conversations episodes here.