Category Archives: Production Design

The 2014 Art Directors Guild Award Winners

The complete list of winners:



HER (WINNER) – Production Designer: K.K. Barrett
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY – Production Designer: David Gropman
BLUE JASMINE – Production Designer: Santo Loquasto
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS – Production Designer: Paul Kirby
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET – Production Designer: Bob Shaw

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[UPDATED WITH WINNERS] OSCARS 2014 COMPLETE LIST: The 86th Academy Award Nominations are…



At 8:30am EST on January 16th, the Academy Award nominees were announced. This year’s ceremony will take place on March 2nd in Hollywood, hosted by the lovely and talented Ellen DeGeneres.

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The Ten Commandments of Production Design

Ten Commandments Of Production Design


1)    All the camera sees is the last coat of paint.

2)    Don’t cheat (unless you have to).

3)    Signs of protest are best done by amateurs.

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HUMP DAY QUOTE DAY: Alex McDowell on Technology


Alex McDowell at 5D Berlinale Presentation


“We’re in 100 percent digital film space now. I think the industry has to accept that this is like the transition to talkies — it’s massive and it’s game-changing and it’s happening.  Continue reading


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The Master: Below the Line Interview


The Master- Paul Thomas Anderson


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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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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What’s in a Meme?


A meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices in this case being the “What People Think I Do” meme. I found it particularly interesting when I started seeing the art department taking part as I do believe people really don’t know what we do. Even major producers don’t know what we do. So I compiled 5 of the memes I felt most related to the art department below:



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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!


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


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


Rose XO.


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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LINKS & STUFF: Art=Drugs, Midnight in Paris & Brad Bird Gets Reamed


It’s been a busy January but here is the best of what I’ve found for you the last couple weeks in the social media universe. This is the best time of year to find great information on art direction so please take a look and I think you’ll absolutely be inspired. Feel free to peruse our TwitterFacebookTumblr or our Google + Fan Page for more art department and film related goodies! Circle us on Google + and we’ll be sure to circle you back.

I think my parents made this.

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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.


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


What is your favourite black and white film?





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