Station Eleven Cinematographer Steve Cosens Talks the Lush, Natural World of the HBO Max Series

While HBO Max's Station Eleven is largely set in a post-apocalyptic world, one two decades after a devastating flu pandemic wipes out most human population, viewers tuning into the ten-episode series may have been surprised by what that world looked like. Instead of a bleak wasteland, the world of Station Eleven is lush, green, and inviting, a beautiful place where life thrives rather than a depressing and uncertain one. It's a setting that goes a bit against type for post-apocalyptic stories and speaking with, cinematographer Steve Cosens says it was deliberate and that it was important that this world's future be inviting, not ominous.

"From the beginning, that was so important to [series creator] Patrick Somerville that the worlds in the future not be ominous. The world in the future wanted to be inviting," Cosens said. "And we wanted nature to feel like the kind of nature that you want to be surrounded by and connected with. Not this kind of burnt-out desaturated kind of desolation that you see in a lot of post pandemic shows. So, from the beginning, the world building that we talked about was, for the future, was really important to all the keys. And we spent a lot of time just really focusing on the locations that we knew could tell the story, but that were also not so decrepit and worn down that it was depression, but that there was also nature. That nature was in there and nature was going to be lush and even though nature was overtaking things, it didn't have a sense of foreboding."

Cosens, who was the cinematographer for four of the series' episodes, including the series finale which arrived on HBO Max on Thursday, went on to explain how incorporating nature was critical to every aspect of the series, including production design.

"It was something that was always top of mind whenever we went to a new location, or whenever Ruth Ammon, the production designer, would come back with photos of a location that she felt was good for the look of the show, we were always talking about, 'Okay, how does nature fit into this? And how do we make it feel like, Okay, I want to be in this environment. This environment is not scary,'" Cosens said.

He continued, "And I think it was just, thanks to Patrick, I think just a great way to subvert your expectations about what a post pandemic show could be. It's just more interesting, too. And for one, I grew up in a lot of nature. I spent my early years really running around in nature so, for me, and for a lot of people, being in nature is healing. And I think that's something we want to just carry through the show."

Station Eleven is described by HBO Max as "A post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, this limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what's been lost." The 10-episode series stars Mackenzie Davis as Kirsten, Himesh Patel as Jeevan, David Wilmot as Clark, Nabhaan Rizwan as Frank Chaudhary, Philippine Velge as Alexandra, Daniel Zovatto as The Prophet, Lori Petty as The Conductor, Gael Garcia Bernal as Arthur, Caitlin FitzGerald as Elizabeth, and Danielle Deadwyler as Miranda.

 All ten episodes of Station Eleven are now streaming on HBO Max. You can check out our review of the series here.