Category Archives: Design LOVE

PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Wes Anderson

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Wes Anderson is one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation. With storybook-like imagery, and highly stylized production design and cinematography he is the definition of an auteur and certainly one of my favourite filmmakers working today. His stories are as fun and interesting as his visual flair so it isn’t hard to see why he is nominated for an Academy Award this year alongside his Moonrise Kingdom co-writer, Roman Coppola for Best Original Screenplay.

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The Master: Below the Line Interview

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The Master- Paul Thomas Anderson

THE INTERVIEW

black line

Check out this below the line interview for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master with Production Designers, Jack Fisk & David Crank; Costume Designer, Mark Bridges and Editor, Leslie Jones.

Source: The Hot Button DP30 Series

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An In-Depth Look at the Design of the ‘Prometheus’ Rovers

Prometheus Poster Art Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

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The production design for Prometheus surprised a lot of people when the first set stills leaked. Instead of the grungy, mechanical aesthetic of Alien, which it predates, Prometheus’ sets are clean, brightly lit, and very colourful. It’s texturing is much less heavy than Alien, and the reflective surfaces and bold, graphic palette seem a world away from the 1979 film’s muted golds, browns and creams. Ridley Scott’s influences for the look of Prometheus can be tracked back to the 1965 film Planet Of The Vampires - in fact the space suits for the Prometheus crew are taken almost verbatim from that film. Broadly speaking though, pulp sci-fi appears to be the major influence for the film’s look, mixing it’s tone and colour with updated version of the bulkheads and corridors of the original Nostromo setsPrometheus’ prop vehicles, the RT Rovers, continue this theme.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Art DepartMENTAL’s Top 10 Best Production Design of 2011

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Art DepartMENTAL'S 2011 Top 10 Best Production Design

After some long and hard deliberations I have pared down what are, in my opinion, the top 10 best production designed/art directed films of 2011. In the end, given the subjectivity of film in general,  all this means is these were my favourite designs. Going through the many films I had on my list I was awestruck at the diversity, styles and overall quality of so many of the films. 2011 was really a banner year for production design the way I see it. Last year, I found it easy to just do a top 5 but this year I found it impossible not to do a top 10 and I easily could have made it a top 20.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese at work on the set of The Departed


“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.”

-Martin Scorsese

From the mean streets of New York City to the days of Christ in desolate landscapes to the vast beauty of Paris in the 1930′s, let there be no question that Martin Scorsese is a master of visual storytelling. Great filmmakers don’t stop telling the story on the page, in the camera or in the cut, they continue to use the tool of environment and space: production design. Often times in Scorsese’s films the environment is another character. New York City is his most prominent character no matter which decade he sets his story.

The quote above is an important one for me and one I use very often when designing a film. What you have in the frame is as important as what you leave out. Everything you have in the frame is part of telling the story. It’s the details of the graphics in Travis Bickle’s apartment which were written into the script to the branded poker chips which you may have not noticed in Casino to the tiny tools dressed on the desk in Hugo’s living space, that make Scorsese’s worlds all-encompassing and believable. In a Scorsese film the one thing you can always count on is that every detail is accounted for.

Now obviously Scorsese himself does not implement these details but he demands the very best from his crew. Luckily, success has awarded him the opportunities to work with the very best in Production Design. His work with Production Designer Dante Ferretti is particularly epic and their collaborations together always leave me breathless. Hiring the right people, as they say, is half the battle.

So here now are those worlds. I warn you there are spoilers and violence ahead. Enjoy!

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Mean Streets (1973)

Art Department Unknown

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

Production Designer: Toby Carr Rafelson

Taxi Driver (1976)

Art Director: Charles Rosen | Set Decorator: Herbert F. Mulligan

New York, New York (1977)

Production Designer: Boris Leven | Art Director: Harry Kemm | Set Decorator: Robert De Vestel & Ruby R. Levitt

Raging Bull (1980)

Production Designer: Gene Rudolf | Art Director:  Alan Manser (L.A) & Kirk Axtell (L.A) | Set Decorator: Phil Abramson & Frederic C. Weiler

The King of Comedy (1983)

Production Designer: Boris Leven | Art Director: Lawrence Miller & Edward Pisoni | Set Decorator: George DeTitta Sr. & Daniel Robert

After Hours (1985)

Production Designer: Jeffrey Townsend | Art Director: Stephen J. Lineweaver | Set Decorator: Leslie A. Pope

The Color of Money (1986)

Production Designer: Boris Leven | Set Decorator: Karen O’Hara

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Production Designer: John Beard | Art Director: Andrew Sanders | Set Decorator: Giorgio Desideri

Goodfellas (1990)

Production Designer: Kristi Zea | Art Director: Maher Ahmad | Set Decorator: Leslie Bloom

Cape Fear (1991)

Production Designer: Henry Bumstead | Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr. | Set Decorator: Alan Hicks

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Speed Hopkins | Set Decorator: Robert J. Franco & Amy Marshall

Casino (1995)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr. | Set Decorator: Rick Simpson

Kundun (1997)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Alan Tomkins | Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Robert Guerra | Set Decorator: William F. Reynolds

Gangs of New York (2002)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Stefano Maria Ortolani | Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

The Aviator (2004)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Robert Guerra & Claude Paré | Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

The Departed (2006)

Production Designer: Kristi Zea | Art Director: Teresa Carriker-Thayer | Set Decorator: Leslie E. Rollins

Shutter Island (2010)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Director: Robert Guerra | Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Hugo (2011)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

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What is your favourite Scorsese film? Why does it resonate with you?

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Rose XO.

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NOTE: Our apologies to subscribers who may have received an email of this post last week while it was in progress. We value your time and are working to make sure that never happens again. Thanks for your patience.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Black and White

The Artist is nominated for an Art Directors Guild Award for Best Production Design in a Period Film this year, and it got me thinking about other black and white films with great production design. Here are a few of my favourite films/scenes that are beautiful without Technicolour.

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The Birth, Life, and Death of Christ (1906)

Art Direction: Alice Guy

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

Art Direction: Otis Turner

Metropolis (1927)

Art Directors: Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht

Citizen Kane (1941)

Art Director: Van Nest Polglase | Set Decorator: Darrell Silvera

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Art Directors: Hans DreierJohn Meehan | Set Decorators: Sam Comer, Ray Moyer

Persona (1966)

Production Designer: Bibi Lindström

Mahattan (1979)

Production Designer: Mel Bourne | Set Decorator: Robert Drumheller

The Artist (2011)

Production Designer: Laurence Bennett | Art Director: Gregory S. Hooper | Set Decorator: Austin Buchinsky, Robert Gould

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What is your favourite black and white film?

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Alison

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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Terrence Malick, Jack Fisk and the Art of Minimalism

Filmmaker, Terrence Malick

Production Designer, Jack Fisk

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Definition of Minimalism: A design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect. A technique that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.

I’ve been a big fan of Terrence Malick and Jack Fisk since I saw The Thin Red Line. Imagine my shock and awe when I saw the rest of their work. I often think of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World when I think of Days of Heaven and that is a tribute to the way they painted their story with simple landscape and light during magic hour. Terrence clearly has a highly attuned eye for painterly composition and Fisk is not only able to realize Terry’s vision but catapult it to new heights in such a way that makes them the power team that they are. The Tree of Life this year has been a testament to the magic they share with their audience. The Tree of Life is a delightfully visual poem which enables the audience to ponder the nature of existence through the use of visual imagery and story minimalism. With this film I do believe Terrence and Jack have reached new heights in the search for beauty in cinema. Through their work I believe we can all learn that less really is more.

Jack Fisk Discusses his Work with Terrence and his Aesthetic:

“Terry and I have developed a relationship where we just go and look at locations together, for weeks, and that way we kind of get in sync on a picture. And then he says, “Whatever you do will be fine.” He’s so trusting, but I’ve worked so hard to fall in line with what he’s after. I think also over the years we’ve kind of developed similar tastes. Some of it came about because we never had any money, so we always had minimal set dressing and props, and we found out that we really like the way that looked. Even today, I spend most of my time taking stuff away rather than putting stuff onto a set. Just try to keep it simple, because if people aren’t confused by the background, they pay attention to what’s happening with the characters, I think. I try to create backgrounds that are easy to understand so they tell you in shorthand what you need to know about the place or the character and don’t distract you by giving you too much to look at. [The balance between simplicity and authenticity] is a hard one.

I’ve developed a real love of Edward Hopper. His paintings have a simplicity and an essence of location, so he’s probably who I reference the most – I think of him almost like an art director. You really feel the humans in those environments because there’s not a lot of distraction; he paints just what you need. The other artist I like is completely different and that’s Francis Bacon. The thing I really like about Francis Bacon is his passion. I look at his paintings and they’re like falling apart. He’ll put water-base paint on oils – whatever he does, he doesn’t worry about preserving it, but he worries about the moment. If he needs a dash of purple up there, he’ll put whatever purple he has. I appreciate that passion.”

~ Jack Fisk, from Filmmaker Magazine | Spring 2010

Terrence Malick and Jack Fisk’s Collaborations

Badlands (1973)

Badlands (1973)

Days of Heaven (1978)

Days of Heaven (1978)

Days of Heaven (1978)

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The New World (2005)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Tree of Life (2011)

Jack Fisk’s Other Collaborations

Here is more smouldering examples of Jack Fisk’s production designs, this time with other lauded filmmakers. You’ll see below that his love for minimalism follows him on each project but his designs remain classic, beautiful and appropriate to the characters, time period, story and genre. He has a knack for choosing projects that suit his unique visual aesthetic. He also seems to love anything with fire.

Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1976)

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

The Straight Story (1999)

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

The Invasion (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Water For Elephants (2011)

Water For Elephants (2011)

Water For Elephants (2011)

Water For Elephants (2011)

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Are you a fan of Terrence Malick or Jack Fisk? What is your favourite film designed by Jack Fisk and why?

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Rose XO.

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The 2011 Gemini Awards Nominations for Best Production Design are…

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The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced their nominations for the 26th Annual Gemini Awards, celebrating the best in Canadian English language television and digital media this past Wednesday.

Celebrations for the 26th Annual Gemini Awards will take place over three nights in Toronto beginning Tuesday Aug. 30 and continuing Wednesday Aug. 31 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, culminating September 7 at the CBC with a live broadcast on CBC Television.

Listed below are the two sets of nominations for Best Production Design or Art Direction. For the complete list of nominations, please visit: www.GeminiAwards.ca

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Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Fiction Program or Series

Republic of Doyle – Don’t Gamble With City Hall
CBC (CBC)
Gordon Barnes
Flashpoint – Acceptable Risk
CTV (Bell Media)
John Dondertman, Elizabeth Calderhead
The Kennedys
History Canada (Shaw Media)
Rocco Matteo
Sanctuary – Normandy
Space (Bell Media)
Bridget McGuire
The Borgias – The Poisoned Chalice/The Assassin
Bravo! CTV (Shaw Media)
François Séguin

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Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Non-Fiction Program or Series

Breakout – Pittsburgh Six
Discovery Canada (Bell Media)
Andrew Berry
The 2011 Juno Awards
CTV (Bell Media)
Peter Faragher
Season of Song: The Canadian Tenors and Friends
CBC (CBC)
Callum MacLachlan
2010 MuchMusic Video Awards
CTV-MuchMusic (Bell Media)
Michael “Spike” Parks
Storming Juno
History Television (Shaw Media)
Brian Rice, Lyle Jobe
Everyday Exotic – Peking Duck
Food Network Canada (Shaw Media)
Elisa Sauve

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Which shows are you rooting for? Are you pleased with the nominations?

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Rose XO.

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TRAILER: Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011)

Martin Scorsese with Dante Ferretti

The trailer for Martin Scorsese’s first 3D film, Hugo, based on the children’s graphic novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, was finally released and as per Scorsese’s usual it is BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL. Production Designer, Dante Ferretti has outdone himself once more and luckily the trailer captures Ferretti’s masterful work. I can not wait to see this film when it is released later this year and become mesmerized by that particular brand of Dante Ferretti/Martin Scorsese magic.

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What did you think? What other films are you looking forward to this year?

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Rose XO.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Bernardo Bertolucci

Italian director and screenwriter Bernardo Bertolucci was born in March 1941. He started writing at the age of 15 and originally wanted to be a poet. However, after assisting Pier Paolo Pasolini  with his film Accattone in 1961, Bertolucci dropped out of his literature studies at the University of Rome and directed his first film, The Grim Reaper, at the tender age of 22. Bertolucci’s films are known for their vibrant visuals as well as controversial political themes. He won two Oscars in 1988 (Best Director and Screenplay) for The Last Emperor.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Production Designer: Carlo Simi | Set Decorators: Rafael Ferri, Carlo Leva

The Conformist (1970)

Production Designer: Ferdinando Scarfiotti  | Set Decorator: Osvaldo Desideri

Strategia del ragno (1970)

Production Designer: Maria Paola Maino

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Production Designer & Set Decorator: Philippe Turlure

1900 (1976)

Art Director: Ezio Frigerio | Maria Paola Maino

The Last Emperor (1987)

Production Designer: Ferdinando Scarfiotti | Art Director: Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Gianni Giovagnoni, Gianni Silvestri | Set Decorator: Chunpu Wang

Stealing Beauty (1996)

Production Designer: Gianni Silvestri | Art Director: Domenico Sica | Set Decorator: Cynthia Sleiter

The Dreamers  (2003)

Production Designer: Jean Rabasse | Art Director: Pierre Duboisberranger

What is your favourite Bertolucci set or film?

- Alison

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