Tag Archives: Art Director

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

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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Filed under Costume Design, Design Love, Film Industry, Production Design

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 Season, Design Love, Production Design, Production Design Porn, Top 10


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?





Filed under Design Love, Production Design, Production Design Porn


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?


– Alison



Filed under Period, Production Design, Production Design Porn

The 2011 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Art Direction are…

This morning the Emmy nominations were announced and luckily there was some truly stunning television work this past year. Just because it’s on the small screen doesn’t mean it can’t be visually splendorous. The following nominations prove this very point:


Outstanding Art Direction For A Multi-Camera Series

The Big Bang Theory • The Love Car Displacement • The 21-Second Excitation • The Agreement Dissection • CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

John S. Shaffner, Production Designer

Francoise Cherry-Cohen, Art Director

Ann Shea, Set Decorator

Hot In Cleveland • Sisterhood Of The Traveling SPANX© • I Love Lucci: Part Two • LeBron Is Le Gone • TV Land • Hudson Street Productions

Michael Andrew Hynes, Production Designer

Maralee Zediker, Set Decorator

How I Met Your Mother • Subway Wars • Natural History • CBS • Twentieth Century Fox Television

Stephan G. Olson, Production Designer

Susan Eschelbach, Set Decorator

Mike & Molly • Pilot • CBS • Bonanza Productions, Inc. in association with Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. and Warner Bros. Television

John S. Shaffner, Production Designer

Ann Shea, Set Decorator

Rules Of Engagement • Last Of The Red Hat Lovers • Singing And Dancing • The Set Up • CBS • Happy Madison Productions and CBS Television Studios in association with Sony Pictures Television

Bernard Vyzga, Production Designer

Jerie Kelter, Set Decorator


Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-Camera Series


Boardwalk Empire • Boardwalk Empire (Pilot) • HBO • Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Bob Shaw, Production Designer

Douglas Huszti, Art Director

Debra Schutt, Set Decorator

The Borgias • Lucrezia’s Wedding • Showtime • Showtime Presents in

association with Take 5 Productions and Octagon Films

Francois Seguin, Production Designer

Jonathan McKinstry, Art Director

Judit Varga, Set Decorator

Mad Men • Public Relations • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Dan Bishop, Production Designer

Christopher L. Brown, Art Director

Claudette Didul, Set Decorator

Modern Family • Halloween • ABC • Twentieth Century Fox Television

Richard Berg, Production Designer

Amber Haley, S.D.S.A., Set Decorator

True Blood • Beautifully Broken • It Hurts Me Too • Trouble • HBO • Your Face Goes Here Entertainment in association with HBO Entertainment

Suzuki Ingerslev, Production Designer

Cat Smith, Art Director

Laura Richarz, S.D.S.A., Set Decorator


Outstanding Art Direction For A Miniseries Or Movie


Downton Abbey (Masterpiece) • PBS • A co-production of Carnival and Masterpiece

Donal Woods, Production Designer

Charmian Adams, Art Director

Gina Cromwell, Set Decorator

The Kennedys • ReelzChannel • A Muse Entertainment Production in association with Asylum Entertainment

Rocco Matteo, Production Designer

Mun Ying Kwun, Art Director

Enrico Campana, Set Decorator


For a list of all the nominations click here.


Which television show or mini-series are you happy to see nominated?


Rose XO.



Filed under Art Department, Art Direction, Awards Season, Film Industry, Period, Production Design


Ken Adam

BAFTA’s tribute to Ken Adam took place this past Monday night on the occasion of Ken Adam’s 90th birthday. As one of the most creative and imaginative production designers to ever live, not many people are more deserving of a gala celebrating their work than Sir Ken Adam. Born in Germany in 1921, he relocated with his family to England in 1934, where he studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He started his prolific film career in 1948 as a draftsman and eventually went on to production design a whopping 44 movies, some of his most memorable being the seven James Bond films he designed. Every film Ken Adam has designed has not only been gorgeous but also incredibly expansive, giving the directors and cinematographers more to play with in terms of shots, light and composition which is no small feat. For his efforts and contributions to the cinematic landscape the Art Director’s Guild awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 and he’s been awarded with 2 BAFTAs (Dr. Strangelove and The Ipcress File) and 2 Academy Awards (Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George). In 2003, he was knighted by the Queen, the only Production Designer to ever receive this high honour. Take a look at some of Sir Ken Adam’s breathtaking creations.


Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)

Director: Michael Anderson | Art Director: James W. Sullivan | Set Decorator: Ross Dowd

Dr. No (1962)

Director: Terence Young | Art Director: Syd Cain

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Art Director: Peter Murton

Goldfinger (1964)

Director: Guy Hamilton | Art Director: Peter Murton

The Ipcress File (1965)

Director: Sidney J. Furie | Art Director: Peter Murton

Thunderball (1965)

Director: Terence Young | Art Director: Peter Murton | Set Decorator: Peter Lamont

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Director: Lewis Gilbert | Art Director: Harry Pottle

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Director: Ken Hughes | Art Director: Harry Pottle

Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Director: Guy Hamilton | Art Directors: Bill Kenney, Jack Maxsted | Set Decorator: John P. Austin, Peter Lamont

Sleuth (1972)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Art Director: Peter Lamont | Set Decorator: John Jarvis

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Art Director: Roy Walker

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Director: Lewis Gilbert | Art Director: Peter Lamont | Set Decorator: Hugh Scaife

Moonraker (1979)

Director: Lewis Gilbert | Art Directors: Charles Bishop, Max Douy | Set Decorator: Peter Howitt

Addams Family Values (1994)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld | Art Director: William J.Durrell Jr. | Set Decorator: Marvin March

The Madness of King George (1994)

Director: Nicholas Hytner | Art Directors: Martin Childs, John Fenner | Set Decorator: Carolyn Scott

Taking Sides (2001)

Director: István Szabó | Art Director: Anja Müller | Set Decorator: Bernhard Henrich


My favourite Ken Adam set is the War Room from Dr. Strangelove. What’s your favourite set Ken Adam has designed?


Alison Hickey



Filed under Production Design Porn

INSPIRATION: Production Design Panel


Over the weekend while updating Art DepartMENTAL’s Youtube Channel I decided to watch these videos below. I’ve seen them around for a while but because of their poor titling I wasn’t sure they’d interest me but boy was I wrong. This panel from 2008’s Comic Con ADG sponsored panel is full of insightful art department and design knowledge from some of the top Production Designers working today. J.Michael Riva and Alex McDowell provide many highlights. I particularly love the conversation about directors frequently having trouble visualizing what the sets will look like and how that is actually okay. It’s the designer’s responsibility to visualize NOT the director’s. I sometimes forget that. It’s really great if a director can easily visualize a film but if not it doesn’t mean in the slightest that they aren’t a great storyteller. The responses were very refreshing and inspiring. Enjoy!







Rose XO.

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Filed under Art Department, Art Direction, Film Industry, Inspiration, Production Design, Question & Answer




What makes a Quentin Tarantino movie so great? The soundtracks full of 70s tunes, the stylized gore, and of course the David Wasco production design. Sets like the warehouse in Reservoir Dogs and the the Cinema Le Gamaar in Inglourious Basterds make the films just that much more memorable. Take a look.


Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Production Designer: David Wasco |  Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Production Designer: David Wasco | Art Director: Charles Collum | Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Jackie Brown (1997)

Production Designer: David Wasco |  Art Director: Daniel Bradford | Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Production Designer: Yohei Taneda, David Wasco | Art Directors: Daniel Bradford, Hidefumi Hanatani, Minoru Nishida | Set Decorators: Yoshihito Akatsuka, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

Production Designer: David Wasco |  Art Director: Daniel Bradford | Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Death Proof (2007)

Production Designer: Steve Joyner | Art Director: Caylah Eddleblute | Set Decorator: Jeanette Scott

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Production Designer: David Wasco | Art Director: Marco Bittner Rosser, Stephan O. Gessler, Sebastian T. Krawinkel, David Scheunemann | Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco


Are you a Tarantino lover? Which of his films do you think have the best production design?




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PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: The Gold Standard, Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick in his younger years

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) is one of the most beloved filmmakers of all time, with a whopping 6 titles on IMDb’s Top 250  Movies list despite only winning one Oscar for Best Visual Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey. This quote from a 1968 Playboy interview with Kubrick accurately captures his World view but also the themes that made his films so interesting:

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

In addition to phenomenal themes and stories, the cinematography and production design always complimented each other beautifully in every one of his films and truly encapsulate the spirit of “Production Design Porn”. Sets and mise-en-scène that create a world inside the film that is so beautiful you just want to hit the rewind button and analyze the moving pictures again and again.

The Killing (1956)

Art Director: Ruth Sobotka | Set Decorator: Herry Reif

Paths of Glory (1957)

Art Director: Ludwig Reiber

Spartacus (1960)

Production Designer: Alexander Golitzen | Art Director: Eric Orbom | Set Decorators: Russell A. Gausman, Julia Heron

Lolita (1962)

Art Director: William C. Andrews

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Production Designer: Ken Adam | Art Director: Peter Murton

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Production Designers: Ernest Archer, Harry Lange, Anthony Masters | Art Director: John Hoesli | Set Decorator: Robert Cartwright

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Production Designer: John Barry | Art Director: Russell Hagg, Peter Sheilds

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Production Designer:  Ken Adam | Art Director: Roy Walker

The Shining (1980)

Production Designer: Roy Walker | Art Director: Leslie Tomkins

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Production Designer: Anton Furst | Art Director: Keith Pain, Rod Stratfold, Leslie Tomkins | Set Decorator: Barbara Drake

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Production Designer: Leslie Tomkins, Roy Walker | Art Director: John Fenner, Kevin Phipps | Set Decorator:  Lisa Leone, Terry Wells


Are you a big Stanley Kubrick fan? What movie of his do you think has the best production design?





Filed under Art Direction, Production Design