Category Archives: Film HAPPINESS



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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Filed under Design LOVE, Film HAPPINESS, Production DESIGN, Production Design Porn

Art DepartMENTAL’s Top 10 Favourite Films of 2011

Art DepartMENTAL's 2011 Top 10 Favourite Films- Tree of Life


If there is anything I love more than production design it is film in and of itself. I see roughly 250-300 films a year so while I definitely have a bit of catching up to do I did engulf quite a few films last year. However, I’m still kicking myself that I have yet to see A Separation which I’ve been told is phenomenal. Perhaps once I see it this list will change but as of right now, on Oscar Sunday, here are my Top 10 Favourites of 2011! Don’t judge. Oh, okay, you can judge.

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Filed under Film HAPPINESS, Film REVIEWS, Recommendations, Top 10

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


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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Filed under ART DEPARTMENT, Art Direction, Awards, Design LOVE, Film HAPPINESS, Production DESIGN, Production Design Porn, Top 10

How to Feel Miserable as an Artist

Source: Canadian Illustrator, Keri Smith


Don’t do this to yourself. This may have been written for fine artists but I believe it translates to anyone in a creative field. A list like this will help keep you in check.

Thoughts? Which one of these do you find yourself doing the most?


Rose XO.



Filed under Advice, ART DEPARTMENT, Art Direction, Film HAPPINESS, How-to, Production DESIGN

Art DepartMENTAL @ TIFF ’11

Tomorrow the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival officially starts its 36th year fully settled in its new home, the TIFF Bell Lightbox. This year it is 11 days from Sept 8-18 and will showcase 339 films- 258 features and 81 shorts. It is the largest public festival in the world and I would say second in popularity only to Cannes. Even the Guardian thinks Venice is scared of Toronto’s new found prowess.

I have been attending the festival for the past 8 years and every year I look forward to it more and more. This is the first year I will be going to TIFF as an Industry member and this has me more excited (and nervous) than ever before. I’m looking forward to networking and continuing my journey to learn this business inside and out. I know a lot of you out there have never been to TIFF or any film festival like it and do not understand all of the hype and hoopla associated with the festival. It’s hard to describe it but it’s sort of like an amusement park run in celebration of the beauty and transcendence of the moving image. To those who love cinema it’s Christmas in September. One film after another of the very best this World has to offer not to mention the electric vibe the city of Toronto has when it’s glowing in the TIFF spotlight.

Like last year I will be live tweeting again (@artdepartmental) from the festival and be sure to follow the TIFF hashtag #TIFF11 to get the inside scoop on what’s hot, what’s not and what’s being bought.

Programme, schedules & hooch during my 16 hour wait for TIFF tickets.

New this year, I will be posting a daily TIFF Diary for the 11 days of the festival letting you know what’s happening at the festival and my general experience as I attend approximately 40 movies in addition to panels, seminars, and parties. To stay updated you can bookmark Art DepartMENTAL, like us on Facebook, or you can subscibe via email or our RSS feed. As always I will try my best to cover the very best of the fest in production design glory. I hope you will come along for the ride!


Are you attending TIFF ’11? If you are too far to attend, which films playing at TIFF’11 are you anxious to see or hear more about?

Rose XO.

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Filed under Awards, Behind the SCENES, EXCLUSIVE, Film HAPPINESS, Film INDUSTRY, Toronto International Film Festival

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.



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


Rose XO.


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Filed under Art Direction, Design LOVE, Film HAPPINESS, Period, Production DESIGN, Trailer


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


Filed under ART DEPARTMENT, Art Direction, Design LOVE, Film HAPPINESS, Production DESIGN, Production Design Porn


Welcome to our 5th miscellaneous production design porn post. I hope these screencaps will inspire you to watch these films (and in turn be even more inspired)!

Interiors (1978)

Production Designer: Mel Bourne  | Set Decorator: Mario Mazola, Daniel Robert

Marie Antoinette (2006) 

Production Designer: K.K. Barrett | Art Directors: Pierre Duboisberranger, Anne Siebel | Set Decorator: Véronique Melery

Amadeus (1984)

Production Designer: Patrizia von Brandenstein | Art Director: Karel Cerný

Knerten (2009)

Production Designer: Harald Egede-Nissen

Star Trek (2009)

Production Designer: Scott Chambliss | Art Directors: Curt Beech, Dennis Bradford, Keith P. Cunningham, Luke Freeborn, Beat Frutiger, Gary Kosko | Set Decorator: Karen Manthey

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Production Designer: Dean Tavoularis | Art Director: Angelo P. Graham | Set Decoration: George R. Nelson

Almost Famous (2000)

Art Directors: Clay A. Griffith, Clayton Hartley, Virginia L. Randolph | Set Decorator:Robert Greenfield

Synechdoche, New York (2008)

Production Designer: Mark Friedberg | Art Director: Adam Stockhausen | Set Decorator: Lydia Marks

The MachinistThe Machinist (2004)

Production Designer: Alain Bainée | Art Director: Iñigo Navarro | Set Decorator: Héctor Gil

Help! (1965)

Art Director: Ray Simm

Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Production Design Porn!





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Actor, writer, director, animator, producer… former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam has done it all, even production design for the Python film Life of Brian! He started out as a cartoonist and animator in the States but soon moved to England where he worked on Do Not Adjust Your Set and the legendary Monty Python’s Flying Circus. After Monty Python dissolved, he focused on writing and directing his own films. Gilliam plays with themes of imagination and rising against the establishment. His films lend themselves to fantastical production design very well – take a look for yourself.

Storytime (1968)

Directed and animated by Terry Gilliam

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Production Designer: Roy Forge Smith

Life of Brian

Director: Terry Jones | Production Designer: Terry Gilliam | Art Director: Roger Christian


Brazil (1985)

Production Designer: Norman Garwood | Art Directors: John Beard, Keith Pain

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti | Art Directors: Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Giorgio Giovanni, Nazzareno Piana, Massimo Razzi | Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Shiavo


The Fisher King (1991)

Production Designer: Mel Bourne | Art Director: P. Michael Johnston | Set Decorator: Cindy Carr


Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Production Designer: Jeffrey Beecroft | Art Director: William Ladd Skinner | Set Decorator: Crispian Sallis


Fear and Loathing in las Vegas (1998)

Production Designer: Alex McDowell | Art Director: Chris Gorak | Set Decorator: Nancy Haigh


The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Production Designer: Guy Hendrix Dyas | Art Directors: Keith Pain, Jirí Sternwald, Andy Thomson, Frank Walsh | Set Decorator: Judy Farr, Guy Hendrix Dyas


Tideland (2005)

Production Designer: Jasna Stefanovic | Art Director: Anastasia Masaro | Set Decorator: Sara McCudden


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Production Designer: Anastasia Masaro | Set Decorator: Caroline Smith


Gilliam’s animations have always been one of my favourite things about Monty Python. I especially love the “Killer Cars” sketch. What’s your favourite Gilliam film or animation?



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HOT DOCS 2011 REVIEWS: The Shorts Edition


My Hot Docs marathon continues this week and I just wanted to make sure that short films got their fair shake as well so I made sure to catch a bunch. Here are some of my thoughts on six of the short films playing at Hot Docs this year.


Rating: *****

Directed By: Jim and Tom Isler | Country: USA

Runtime: 19min 41sec

Synopsis: The key to Allen and Collette’s midlife marriage has been keeping separate apartments, 20 blocks from each other, in New York City. But when financial pressures force Allen to move in with Collette, issues of privacy, independence and bathroom usage call into question the viability of relationships in the modern age. A docu-comedy about romance and rent control.

Review: Two’s a Crowd is the type of film so funny and lovable you wish it were a feature. We meet two people, Allen, 56 and a Libra, he let’s us know, and Collette, 55 with a strong sense of independence, who have seemingly walked out of a Woody Allen film onto the screen.  The film catches this couple who have been married for four years but have never lived together just as they are about to make the move. As the economy came crashing down they realised they would have to move in together for financial reasons and reluctantly brace to live together- in the same space- until death do them part. The most interesting thing for me was how much their individual spaces define them and they just can’t let go of that need for separate togetherness. I don’t want to spoil the film so I’ll just finish by saying that this is honestly one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen at the festival largely due to the unique, quirky and comic couple at the heart of the film. It’s a shame it’s only 20 minutes but worth the price of admission.




Rating: *****

Directed By: Zaheed Mawani | Country: Canada

Runtime: 26 min

Synopsis: Three Walls traces the development of the office cubicle since its inception in the late 1960s to its current status as the dominant form of office furniture in North America. More than a bit of social history, this documentary captures the melancholic absurdity of the modern day office and examines the larger issues surrounding the shifting nature of white-collar work.

Review: Three Walls allows us to understand the nature of the office cubicle and its entrapment of the every day office working individual. The film quotes the inventor of the office cubicle, Bob Propst, “One of the dumbest things you can do is sit in one space and let the world pass you by,” which plays as a thesis statement to the impending film. Every thing after this proves that exact point. The film goes on to interview many people who work in office cubicles as they discuss their spaces intertwined with footage of office cubicles being made and an interview with a representative of Herman Miller which first put cubicles or ‘systems furniture’ on the market and their intentions by doing so (120 degree angled separators- not cubes). While all of this sounds pretty boring the cinematography and the hints at visual humor along with some quirky office workers propel the film to a level you wouldn’t think a doc about office cubicles could go. A must-see for anyone who works in an office.

Playing with: MAIDS & BOSSES



Rating: ****

Directed By: Sara Nesson | Country: USA

Runtime: 38min

Synopsis: Sara Nesson’s Oscar-nominated debut follows Iraq War veteran Robynn Murray’s harrowing battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A one-time poster girl for young women in combat, Murray’s raw emotion devastates and inspires in this impassioned journey towards healing and self-discovery.

Review: Poster Girl follows Robynn Murray’s journey to reclaim her youth while dealing with the pounding after effects of war. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a direct result of the horrors she witnessed in Iraq as she vividly describes her time there spliced on screen with photos of the war. We see Robynn on her good days and on her bad. Some days she struggles to contain her rage and others she can barely contain her sadness. On a good day the best she can do is be hopeful that her future will not be as bad as her past. I am glad the film also shows the lack of social assistance she receives due to illness and the struggle to even receive a dime from the military two years after they were done using her as a weapon. I had slight problems with the end being a bit cliche but overall it was a very well told eye opening documentary.

Playing with: MELISSA- MOM AND ME



Rating: ****

Directed By: Benjamin Wigley | Country: UK

Runtime: 9 min

Synopsis: Sir Paul Smith Jr., the English fashion retailer known for creating classically tailored menswear with a characteristic twist, has an anonymous benefactor. For 20 years he’s received a series of highly imaginative gifts in the mail: unsigned, unwrapped, uncanny yet perfectly charming. Who is responsible?

Review: P.S. Your Mystery Sender focuses on creativity in a most unusual form. Paul Smith has been receiving random objects from a total stranger unknown to him since the early eighties. These gifts range from a volleyball to a wagon to a traffic cone, to an E.T doll. I agree with Paul Smith in that there is something very beautiful about this act of randomness. Each object is sent not in a box but with the stamps thoughtfully placed and the address written directly on the object. Even the colour and placement of the stamps are well thought out. What Paul has ended up with over the years is now a diverse, interesting and oddly beautiful museum of random objects. I have mixed feelings about the pace of the film due to some poetic narration that breaks into scenes and some reenactments of the story but overall some of that works in its favour. This part of the narrator’s hypothesis particularly intrigued me, “Objects live too… they travel like hard souls…” This mystery sender has brought new life to seemingly banal objects and changed the nature of which these objects were originally intended.




Rating: ***

Directed By: Andrew Moir | Country: Canada

Runtime: 6 min

Synopsis: Tobacco farmer Joe Vanden Elzen was happily tending the land, just like the five generations of farmers who’d come before him. But in 2005, in an effort to curtail the tobacco industry, the Canadian government requested that hundreds of farmers relinquish their crops and say goodbye to their livelihoods forever. Joe was among those who signed the deal and lived to regret it.

Review: Uprooted delves into a family’s regret over taking a government buyout and relinquishing their farm and their livelihood. While I think this documentary is too short and doesn’t give quite enough detail or history on both Joe’s ancestry in farming and why the government was buying out tobacco farms in the first place I think the cinematography saves the day. Almost every shot could be screencapped and hung up on the wall as a beautiful piece of photography showcasing farming life in Canada. The shot inside the tobacco farm is particularly stunning. An astoundingly beautiful film but ultimately lacks depth in some areas.




Rating: ***1/2

Directed By: Tim Travers Hawkins | Country: UK

Runtime: 9 min

Synopsis: Welcome to Surprise, Arizona, a study in irony. Make yourself at home in a master-planned, gated community of strict standards and rigorously maintained bylaws. Finally, a community for people who think the grass is greener on their side of the fence and the rest of the world should keep out.

Review: Surpriseville is a quiet doc that lets you make your own opinions but also (in my opinion) visually mocks a gated community in Arizona. Surpriseville, Arizona is a cultivated community founded on the idea of community safety. The community is a mish mash of people from all over basically escaping the realities of the real world. Their goals are to keep the community protected, safe, garbage-free, regulated, ‘beautiful’, and ‘enjoyable’. “I’m very happy to sometimes never leave here. We just don’t think about it,” one woman says. These people believe themselves to be among the happiest in the world  but I see them as the saddest people in the world. It’s surprisingly (pun intended) comic actually when one father says that kids get snatched up in vans “quite often” in the real world and his wife ironically states, “Fear is what keeps people from being productive. I mean it’s stifling.” It begs the question who is the one living in fear? Me or her in her gated community. Also just wanted to mention- who created these houses in ‘Paradise’ because they are particularly drab and ugly if I do say so myself. Just sayin’.

Playing with: THE GOOD LIFE

What will you be seeing at Hot Docs this year?
Rose XO.

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