By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers

By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers

By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers

By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers


Twenty prominent feature film designers talk about their careers, their relationships with Hollywood directors, and how they formulated and executed the technical and aesthetic designs of their film projects. The interviews explore production design techniques and the total process of establishing the visual "look" of many highly acclaimed feature films, including North by Northwest, Chinatown, Barry Lyndon, Reds, Amadeus, Brazil, Blade Runner, and The Last Emperor.


The purpose of this book is to let production designers speak in their own voices about the art and craft of feature film production design.

Although the results of their efforts are visible on the screen, a mysterious veil hangs over the magnitude of the production designer's role in the filmmaking process.

A production designer is responsible for the visual look of the film. In its fullest definition, this extends to translating the script into visual metaphors, creating a color palette, establishing architectural and period details, selecting locations, designing and decorating sets, coordinating the costumes, make-up, and hair styles into a pictorial scheme, and collaborating with the director and director of photography to define how the film should be conceived and photographed.

The production designer researches the world in which the film takes place to capture a sense of authenticity and render the director's vision to celluloid reality.

Production designers use sketches, illustrations, models, and complex production storyboards to plan every shot from microscopic to macroscopic detail. They have tremendous financial accountability and are expected to produce a complete environment for a film within a restricted budget.

The significance of the production designer has changed dramatically over the course of film history. During the Hollywood studio era, supervising art directors ran the art departments. They created a house style in art direction that gave each studio's product a distinctive image. The supervising art director assigned each film to an art director who was responsible for designing and building the scenery and sets.

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