Tag Archives: Dante Ferretti

Dante Ferretti’s Best Art Direction Oscar Speech


Tom Hanks hands husband and wife team, Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo their Oscars for Best Art Direction.


Dante Ferretti was the only winner to thank his crew, let alone any below-the-line crew. Films get made on the backs of their crew and I was so pleased to see that Dante respects his crew enough to thank them. It was lovely to see him win his 3rd Oscar for his staggering work on Hugowhich topped my list for best production design this past year. For once the Academy had it right.

For a list of all the nominees and winners of the 84th Academy Awards, click here.

Below is Dante Ferretti’s acceptance speech: Continue reading


Filed under Art Direction, Awards Season, Film Industry


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.


Filed under Art Direction, Design Love, Production Design, Production Design Porn

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, Period, Production Design, Trailer


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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Filed under Production Design

Best Production Design of 2010


Awards season this year is well under way and I wanted to update you readers as to the results thus far on the Best Production Design of 2010. It’s been a pretty interesting year with nominees spanning the gamut of genres. If they were all period or sci-fi films I think I’d lose it. It’s time to reward great design in collaboration with great research and not just great research in the absence of all else.



The Awards Go To…




  • “Alice in Wonderland” – Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara
  • “Black Swan” – Therese DePrez and Tora Peterson
  • “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” – Marie-Hélène Sulmoni and Philippe Cord’homme
  • “I Am Love” – Francesca Balestra Di Mottola and Monica Sironi
  • “Inception” – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Larry Dias & Doug Mowat
  • “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” – Marcus Rowland, Nigel Churcher and Odetta Stoddard
  • “Shutter Island” – Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo




  • “Alice in Wonderland” – Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara
  • “Black Swan” – Therese DePrez and Tora Peterson
  • “Inception” – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Larry Dias & Doug Mowat
  • “The King’s Speech” – Eve Stewart and Judy Farr
  • “True Grit” – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh




“Inception” – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Larry Dias & Doug Mowat

Runner Up: “The King’s Speech” – Eve Stewart and Judy Farr




“Shutter Island” – Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo


“Shutter Island”


So what do you think of the nominations and wins so far? Do you agree with the mad “Inception” love?


Rose XO.


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



Tim Burton is known for his playful gothic style. The characters in his films live in worlds of contrast between eerie atmospheres and  whimsical fantasy.  His most recent film, Alice in Wonderland, is nominated in the Fantasy Film category in this year’s Art Director’s Guild awards.


Frankenweenie (1984)

Art Director: John B. Mansbridge | Set Decorator: Roger M. Shook

Beetle Juice (1988)

Production Designer: Bo Welch | Art Director: Tom Duffield | Set Decorator: Catherine Mann

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Production Designer: Bo Welch | Art Director: Tom Duffield| Set Decorator: Cheryl Carasik

Ed Wood (1994)

Production Designer: Tom Duffield | Art Director: Okotiwa | Set Decorator: Cricket Rowland

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Production Designer: Wynn Thomas | Art Directors: John Dexter & James Hegedus | Set Decorator: Nancy Haigh

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Production Designer: Rick Heinrichs | Art Directors:Ken Court, John Dexter, Andy Nicholson | Set Decorator: Peter Young

Big Fish (2003)

Production Designer: Dennis Gassner | Art Directors: Roy Barnes, Jean-Michel Ducourty, Robert Fechtman, Jack Johnson, Richard L. Johnson | Set Decorator: Nancy Haigh

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Production Designer: Alex McDowell | Art Directors: David Allday, François Audouy, Matthew Gray, Sean Haworth, James Lewis, Andy Nicholson, Kevin Phipps, Stuart Rose, Leslie Tomkins | Set Decoration: Peter Young

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Production Design: Dante Ferretti | Art Directors: Gary Freeman, David Warren | Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Production Design: Robert Stromberg | Art Directors: Todd Cherniawsky, Sefan Dechant, Andrew L. Jones, Mike Stassi, Christina Ann Wilson | Set Decorator: Karen O’Hara


What is your favourite Tim Burton set?


Alison Hickey



Filed under Production Design Porn



The Best in Production Design

Production design stills that inspire me to do better everyday:



2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Production Designers: Ernest Archer, Harry Lange, and Anthony Masters

Art Director: John Hoesli | Set Decorator: Robert Cartwright


catch me if you can

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Production Designer: Jeannine Oppewall | Art Director: Sarah Knowles

Set Decorators: Claudette Didul and Leslie A. Pope


clockwork orange

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Production Designer: John Barry

Art Directors: Russell Hagg and Peter Shields



The Conformist (1970)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Production Designer: Ferdinando Scarfiotti



Closer (2004)

Director: Mike Nichols

Production Designer: Tim Hatley

Art Directors: Grant Armstrong, Hannah Moseley, and Mark Raggett

Set Decorator: John Bush


life aquatic

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Director: Wes Anderson

Production Designer: Mark Friedberg

Art Directors: Stefano Maria Ortolani, Marco Trentini, and Eugenio Ulissi

Set Decorator: Gretchen Rau


pd- barry lyndon

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Production Designer: Ken Adam | Art Director: Roy Walker



Playtime (1967)

Director: Jacques Tati

Production Designer: Eugène Roman



Hook (1991)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Production Designer: Norman Garwood

Art Directors: Andrew Precht and Thomas E. Sanders

Set Decorator: Garrett Lewis



Dune (1984)

Director: David Lynch

Production Designer: Anthony Masters

Art Director: Benjamín Fernández

Set Decorator: Giorgio Desideri


logan's run

Logan’s Run (1976)

Director: Michael Anderson

Production Designer: Dale Hennesy

Art Director: Dale Hennesy

Set Decorator: Robert De Vestel


pd- dogville

Dogville (2003)

Director: Lars von Trier

Production Designer: Peter Grant

Set Decorator: Simone Grau



Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Production Designer: William Arnold

Art Director: Sue Chan

Set Decorators: Jay Hart & Lori A. Noyes


star wars

Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Director: Irvin Kirshner

Production Designer: Norman Reynolds

Art Directors: Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, and Alan Tomkins

Set Decorator: Michael Ford


Do you agree? Which one is your favourite? Who and what inspires you?


Rose XO.


Filed under Production Design