LINKS & STUFF: ASC Awards, SOPA and Film Production Bingo

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Here are a few of our favourite links from this week. Feel free to peruse Art DepartMENTAL’s TwitterFacebook, Tumblr 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.

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  • Version 2.0 of Fontbook‘s iPad app is available and contains samples of over 620, 000 typefaces!
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How was your week? Did you find any great links or posts?

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Alison

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INSPIRATION: The Elegance of Christian Dior

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Today’s inspiration post is all about the gorgeous and elegant design of Christian Dior.

“Christian Dior (21 January 1905 – 23 October 1957) was a French fashion designer, best known as the founder of one of the world’s top fashion houses, also called Christian Dior.

On 16 December 1946 Dior founded his fashion house, backed by Marcel Boussac, a cotton-fabric magnate. The actual name of the line of his first collection, presented in early 1947, was Corolle (literally the botanical term corolla or circlet of flower petals in English), but the phrase New Look was coined for it by Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Dior’s designs were more voluptuous than the boxy, fabric-conserving shapes of the recent World War II styles, influenced by the rations on fabric. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; Dior is quoted as saying “I have designed flower women.” His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form.

Initially, women protested because his designs covered up their legs, which they had been unused to because of the previous limitations on fabric. There was also some backlash to Dior’s designs due to the amount of fabrics used in a single dress or suit. During one photo shoot in a Paris market, the models were attacked by female vendors over this profligacy, but opposition ceased as the wartime shortages ended. The “New Look” (a name given it by American fashion-magazine editor Carmel Snow) revolutionized women’s dress and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world after World War II.”

Source: wikipedia.org

Some of Dior's sketches

Dior's "New Look", 1947

"Junon" dress, fall/winter 1949-50

"Eventail" dress, Fall-Winter 1956-57

From Christian Dior's autumn/winter haute couture 2011 show

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“Zest is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest.”

- Christian Dior

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Do you have a favourite design by Christian Dior? Who’s your favourite fashion designer or fashion house?

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Alison

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LINKS & STUFF: ADG Nominees, Arts = Happiness and Title Design

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Here are a few of our favourite links from this week. Feel free to peruse Art DepartMENTAL’s TwitterFacebook, Tumblr or our brand new Google + Fan Page for more art department and film related goodies! Circle us on Google + and we’ll be sure to circle you back.

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  • A new study shows that 4 of 6 of the happiest activities are arts-related.
  • Check out this video featuring the best in title design:
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How was your week? Did you find any great links or posts?

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Alison

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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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LINKS & STUFF: The Designer’s Toolkit, Pantone and the Holstee Manifesto

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Here are a few of our favourite links from this week. Feel free to peruse Art DepartMENTAL’s TwitterFacebook, Tumblr or our brand new Google + Fan Page for more art department and film related goodies! Circle us on Google + and we’ll be sure to circle you back.

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Designers were asked around the world which apps they most used for their various design needs. Click the graphic above for the full infographic with all the results.

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  • Production Designer, Clay Griffith talks about his past art department work and gives some insight into the design of We Bought A Zoo including a few drawings which illustrate how they built the zoo in the film.

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How was your week? Did you find any great links or stuff online this week?

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- Alison

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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Christmas Edition!

Merry Christmas, Art DepartMENTAL readers! It’s that time of year again: garland on mantels, tinsel on trees, and of course – Christmas movies on television. There are too many Christmas films to mention but here are a few classics I think have noteworthy production design elements in them.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Art Director: Jack Okey | Set Decorator: Emile Kuri

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Art Directors: Richard Irvine, Richard Day | Set Decorators: Ernest Lansing, Thomas Little

A Christmas Story (1983)

Production Designer: Reuben Freed | Art Director: Gavin Mitchell | Set Decorator: Mark S. Freeborn

Scrooged (1988)

Production Designer: J. Michael Riva | Art Director: Virginia L. Randolph | Set Decorator: Linda DeScenna

Christmas Vacation (1989)

Production Designer: Stephen Marsh | Art Director: Beala Neal | Set Decorator: Lisa Fischer

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

Production Designer: Sandy Veneziano | Art Director: Gary A. Lee | Set Decorator: Marvin March

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Art Director: Deane Taylor

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Production Designer: Michael Corenblith | Art Directors: Lauren E. Polizzi, Dan Webster | Set Decorator: Merideth Boswell

What’s your favourite Christmas movie and why?

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- Alison

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Happy Holidays from Art DepartMENTAL

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Christmas day is here again and we here at Art DepartMENTAL just want to send you our sincerest holiday wishes on this beautiful December morning. It brings us great joy to bring you this website and so today we also just wanted to give thanks.

  • Thanks to our friends and family who have supported not only this blog but also our art department endeavors. We could not do it without you.
  • Thanks to each and every person who has ever visited this website, even if just for a second. We truly, madly and deeply appreciate you.
  • Thanks to those who keep coming back. You make us tick. We wouldn’t do this if it weren’t for you.
  • Thanks to the many people working long, hard hours away from family and friends in art departments around the world. We salute you.
  • Thanks to everyone who tells stories, visually or otherwise. For some people it may be the only thing that gets them through the day. Avenues of escape are important. We may not save lives but we are contributors to beauty, exploration and education.

So today- enjoy your time off work, hug your family & friends, take time to remember who and what matters most to you and enjoy every minute of your life. It’s too short to sweat the small stuff.

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Thank you and happy holidays!

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Rose & Alison @ Art DepartMENTAL

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The Art of Reality Television Production Design

This year, Orange County’s Saddleback College invited guest speaker Production Designer, John Janavs, to speak about the art of reality television production design to a group of students. They were kind enough to post it online for all to see. John Janavs speaks eloquently about how he entered the field of production design, what he looks for when designing a set, how he chooses materials underlying budget limitations and more. This is the single most informative and insightful set of videos I’ve seen all year concerning production design so I suggest you watch carefully and take notes. Enjoy!

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PART ONE

PART TWO

PART THREE

PART FOUR

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Which tip helped you the most? Do you have a better understanding of television production design now?

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Rose XO.

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Filed under Art Department Tips, Art Direction, Production Design, TV Sets

How to Feel Miserable as an Artist

Source: Canadian Illustrator, Keri Smith

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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?

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Rose XO.

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Filed under Advice, Art Department, Art Direction, How To, Production Design

TIFF 2011 EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Take This Waltz Production Designer, Matthew Davies

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While enjoying the Toronto International Film Festival I had the incredible luck to speak with the very talented Production Designer Matthew Davies, of Take This Waltz which had its red carpet World premiere here in Toronto this past week. Sarah Polley herself spoke on high about her Production Designer at the screenings and as you can see below she had good reason to champion her designer. Below Matthew speaks about his move from architecture to production design, the UK to Canada, and his production design process from conception to completion.

How did you get into production design?

I originally studied architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University of London (UK). My profs would always accuse me of being too derivative, of being obsessed with cosmetics; finally one day my tutor told me I might as well go and design film sets if I had no personal statement to make. He intended it as a criticism, but for me, it was like a light going on inside my head…

How is the art department and film industry in the UK much different than here in Canada?

A few too many subtle differences to name.

Notably, however, Set Dec supplies everything to Props in the UK, rather than having two very separate departments. There is always a standby art director on set to represent the designer’s interests, as well as a ‘swing crew’ to shift dressing. By comparison in North America, there’s usually just an ‘on-set dresser’ which is way too much responsibility for a single person. Additionally, shooting crews in the UK usually include a standby painter and carpenter. Essentially, the Brits put a lot more care and attention into what the camera sees. On the plus side for Canada, Graphics is a much bigger component and I love the potential of graphics…

When did you make the move to Canada? What made you decide the Canadian film industry would be a better fit for you?

I was born in Canada and have 4 or 5 generations of Canadians in my family tree so it really felt like I was returning to my ancestral roots. London – after a decade of living there – was also getting a little much to deal with and when I came to compare the quality of life in both cities, Toronto won hands-down…

What do you love most about the nature of your job as a production designer? Adversely, what do you least like about the nature of production design?

I love the fact that only production designers get to work in almost any period and every genre of design. We also get to design for character which is so more interesting than conceptualizing an empty-box space. As for my greatest dislike, well, I wish there was more understanding of a designer’s job description; assumptions about the ‘glory’ of building in studio, of always prioritizing the technical over the creative agenda, and the general belief that imagination ‘costs’ – all these issues make my skin crawl.

Who or what inspires your design aesthetic most?

I have amassed a couple of thousand reference books over the years, so these always come in handy. Websites like flickr and google maps get pretty addictive too.

You have had the great opportunity of working with many celebrated directors such as Guy Maddin (The Saddest Music in the World), Fernando Meirelles (Blindness), and now of course, Sarah Polley. What do you look for in a director when deciding to take on a project?

I’ve been very fortunate in the past (and unluckier than you might imagine with regard to all the jobs I didn’t get…) Sadly, I don’t think there will ever come a time when the designer ‘chooses’ the director. Certainly, the collaboration of the DOP is fundamental to me, so this is usually the first question from my lips when I’m interviewing…

You’re absolutely right, you don’t get to choose but I think what I’m wondering is, as a production designer, what you look for in a director that makes the collaboration between filmmaker and designer enjoyable and fruitful?

I’d say a good director is one who champions his or her creative team, and remains open to the unexpected influences of a great location, a happy accident or a random co-incidence. In other words, shooting a movie feels to me as much about ‘documenting the moment’ as insisting on a singular outcome. Some of the most intriguing directors I’ve worked with spend more time watching and listening than actually directing…

How did you get involved on Take This Waltz?

I had originally been attached to “Away from Her” but in the end, scheduling made it impossible for me to come on board. The Canadian industry is (lamentably) rather ‘compact’, so Sarah was obviously on my radar pretty much from the day I arrived in Canada.

From your perspective what is Take This Waltz about and how did you go about expressing this?

The film is really about so many things, though at its centre is the indecision of Margot, torn between two different types of love. Toronto was itself also a major character and strangely, I felt more apprehensive about expressing my home town than anything else.

Can you speak a bit more about the practical side of your design process. Once you and Sarah discussed the design concepts for the film how did you go about expressing and executing that plan?

Sarah was adamant that it should be a location-based shoot (though we did build a couple of interior sets in studio for purely practical reasons like access and lighting). The art department was sharing space with Sarah during Prep so every day she would have to dig her way through all our detritus to get to her desk. We pretty much made it impossible for her to ignore us. That and the fact she’s a human sponge.

When the key locations were secured, we prepared boards of every paint colour, wallpaper, finish and texture and brought them to each space for the DOP to photograph. Dressing ‘boards’ were prepared of every idea and object in consideration and again divided out according to location. Later, we allowed plenty of time on-site to create all the prescribed layers of human history (which also required stills-shoots with our actors for all the incidental graphics). Sarah had a specific interest in the work of Canadian artist Balint Zsako, so we made an approach and asked him to generously donate a good part of his time to the art department cause. Finally, we introduced the actors to their respective spaces during the rehearsal window, allowing them to make their own tweaks and refinements.

What was Sarah’s approach in regards to the design of the film? Did she give you much freedom to explore your own visual concepts or was she very specific with her vision of the film?

Sarah had prepared her own initial look-board for the film as well as a concise yet meaningful visual synopsis. Her own off-hand reference to a ‘bowl of fruit’ was perhaps most helpful in defining the project’s aesthetic parameters. Yes, she invited experimentation; and yet she always had a very strong sense as to what would either work or not work in context. Her contribution was ongoing, always respectful and ensured that all departments kept a close communication throughout.

What was your favourite thing about designing Take This Waltz?

I loved the chemistry of the crew, the unbelievable commitment of my art director, set decorator, in fact, the entire department! Right up the line to the producers, it felt like finally, this was as good as my working experience could ever be… Sounds corny, but it’s true.

Lastly, given your many experiences in both film and television, what advice would you give to young people embarking on a career in the art department?

In the wake of the ‘digital revolution’, the internet and our obsession with ‘docu-drama’, the film and television business is still very much alive and thriving. Budgets may be lower, but with the proliferation of new media, there are more and more films being made and more ways to apply our creative energies.

In short, now is as good a time as any to jump into it. You’re pretty much guaranteed to have some unique experiences to look back on…

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You can see more from Production Designer, Matthew Davies on his Vimeo account: http://vimeo.com/10711987 and on IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0203850/

Take This Waltz had its World Premiere  here in Toronto this past week and will continue its festival run at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Friday, September 30th.

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The Teaser Trailers for Take This Waltz

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Are you familiar with Matthew Davies or Sarah Polley’s work? Did anything Matthew said resonate with you? As always, I’d love to know your thoughts?

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Rose XO.
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Sources: Matthew Davies, Joe’s Daughter Inc. Used here with permission.

All photos, video, and content are copyrighted 2011.

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Filed under Art Department, Art Direction, Exclusive, Film Industry, Production Design, Toronto International Film Festival