Production designer

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In film and television, the production designer is the individual responsible for the overall aesthetic of the story. The production design gives the viewers a sense of the time period, the plot location, and character actions and feelings. Working directly with the director, cinematographer, and producer, production designers have a key creative role in the creation of motion pictures and television. The term production designer was coined by William Cameron Menzies while he was working on the film Gone with the Wind . [1] Production designers are commonly confused with art directors [2] as the roles have similar responsibilities. Production designers decide the visual concept and deal with the many and varied logistics of filmmaking including, schedules, budgets, and staffing. Art directors manage the process of making the visuals, which is done by concept artists, graphic designers, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, etc. [3] The production designer and the art director lead a team of individuals to assist with the visual component of the film. Depending on the size of the production the rest of the team can include set decorators, buyers, dressers, runners, graphic designers, drafts people, props makers, and set builders. [4]

Contents

Process

  1. The production designer will read the script and allocate categories based on the required visual components such as interior, exterior, location, graphic, vehicles, etc. Discussion with the director is essential in the beginning of the production design process. In this discussion, the production designer will clarify the approach and focus required for the visual design of each scene.
  2. The production designer will move to researching which is important in every design process. They will use mood board which consists of images, sketches, inspiration, color swatches, photos, textiles, etc. that help with the ideation. Learning about the time period, the place and the culture also assists with coming up with an idea. Moreover, the PD has to plan to create a convincing space within a budget, therefore, it is important that the space can speak about the character or enhance the flow of the story, rather than being filled with unnecessary decoration. Additionally, it also affects the location of filming, whether it is in a studio or at a specific location.
  3. The production designer will ensure that all visual components of the film are complete in all stages of the production process.[ clarify ]

The importance of production design

Production design plays an essential role in storytelling, for instance, in the movie Titanic , when the characters Jack and Rose are in the cold water after the ship sank, we know that they are cold because of the setting: it is nighttime and there is ice on their hair. A more specific example is The Wizard of Oz , in which we know the story takes place on a farm because of the bale of hay Dorothy leans on and the animals around, as well as the typical wooden fence. In the scene in which Dorothy’s dog is taken away, we know that it happens in her aunt and uncle’s house, which adds more tension because her beloved friend, Toto is not killed, lost or kidnapped on the street, but is forced to leave by an outsider, Ms. Gulch, who enters Dorothy’s private and safe zone (her home). Jane Barnwell states that the place the characters exist in gives information about them and enhances the fluency of the narrative (175). [5] Imagine Dorothy’s home was dirty and everyone in her house were dressed untidily, the viewer would have supported the outsider instead, perhaps thinking that the outsider in a way, rescued the dog from an unhealthy environment. Additionally, the characters’ clothing, especially that of Ms. Gulch, makes the description “own half the county” more reliable in portraying Ms. Gulch, and also supports the reason why Dorothy cannot rebel against Ms. Gulch by making the dog stay. However, this does not mean that the setting or costume should be extremely detailed and cluttered with information. The goal is to not let the viewer notice these elements, which, however, is how production design works. Jon Boorstin states in his book, Making Movies Work Thinking Like a Filmmaker, that the background, the camera motion or even the sound effect is considered well-done if the viewer does not notice their appearance. [6]

Societies and trade organizations

In the United States and British Columbia, production designers are represented by several local unions of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Local 800, the Art Directors Guild, represents production designers in the U.S., with the exception of New York City and its vicinity. [7] Those members are represented by Local 829, the United Scenic Artists. In the rest of Canada, production designers are represented by the Director's Guild of Canada. In the United Kingdom, members of the art department are represented by the non-union British Film Designers Guild.

The production design credit must be requested by a film's producer, prior to completion of photography, and submitted to the Art Directors Guild Board of Directors for the credit approval.

See also

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Art director is the title for a variety of similar job functions in theater, advertising, marketing, publishing, fashion, film and television, the Internet, and video games.

United Scenic Artists

United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, formerly known as United Scenic Artists of America (USAA), is an American labor union. It is a nationwide autonomous Local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. It organizes designers, artists, and craftspeople in the entertainment and decorative arts industries. The organization was part of International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, however it reaffiliated with IATSE in 1999. United Scenic Artists was organized to protect craft standards, working conditions and wages for the entertainment and decorative arts industries. The members of Local USA 829 are Artists and Designers working in film, theatre, opera, ballet, television, industrial shows, commercials and exhibitions. The current membership totals nearly 3,800. Local USA 829 establishes wages for designers and artists, and negotiates with employers the best possible terms and conditions of employment, as well as Health Insurance and Retirement benefits through employer contributions of Pension, Welfare, 401(k) and Annuity plans.

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The Costume Designers Guild, Local 892, is a union of professional costume designers, assistant costume designers, and illustrators working in film, television, commercials and other media. The CDG is not an employment agency, it is a labor union. As a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the CDG protects member’s wages and working conditions through collective bargaining. There are many additional benefits to being a member, among them health insurance and a pension, as well as being a part of a vibrant community of over 1200 members, as of July 2021, who shape future policy through participation, share ideas, and support each other.

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Art Directors Guild Labor Union

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Guy Hendrix Dyas

Guy Hendrix Dyas is a British production designer. He collaborated with Christopher Nolan on his science fiction thriller Inception which earned him an Academy Award nomination as well as a BAFTA Award for Best Production Design. In 2017, Dyas was nominated for another Academy Award, this time for his work on Passengers. In 2010, Dyas became the first British designer to win a Goya Award for Best Production Design for his work on Alejandro Amenábar's historical epic Agora which premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Dyas previously received three consecutive Art Directors Guild Award nominations for his production design work on Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Superman Returns for Bryan Singer. He won an ADG award in 2011 for Inception. He also earned a BAFTA Award nomination in 2007 for Best Production Design for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and for four years in a row Dyas has been named by The Sunday Times as one of the top ten Brits working behind the camera in Hollywood.

Costume designer

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(Also known as Designer's Guild or B.F.D.G. and can be seen after a member's name as a professional certification abbreviation)

Harold Michelson was an American production designer and art director. In addition, he worked as an illustrator and/or storyboard artist on numerous films from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Richard Sylbert was an American production designer and art director, primarily for feature films.

Alan Heim American film editor (born 1936)

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the Cinemagundi Club was formed in 1924 by 63 top Hollywood Art Directors including William Cameron Menzies and Anton Grot. It was named after New York City’s club for artists, the Salmagundi Club.

References

Footnotes

  1. Cairns, David (2011). "The Dreams of a Creative Begetter". The Believer. No. 79. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  2. Preston, Ward (1994). What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press. p. 150. ISBN   978-1-879505-18-6.
  3. Barnwell, Jane (2017). Production Design for Screen: Visual Storytelling in Film and Television. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts. pp. 23–25. ISBN   9781474223409.
  4. Salom, Leon (17 March 2014). "Explainer: what is production design?". The Conversation.
  5. Barnwell, Jane (2017). Production Design for Screen: Visual Storytelling in Film and Television. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts. p. 175. ISBN   9781474223409.
  6. Boorstin, Jon (1995). Making Movies Work Thinking Like a Filmmaker. Silman-James Press.
  7. Rizzo, Michael (2014). The Art Direction Handbook for Film & Television. Routledge. p. 394. ISBN   978-0415842792.

Bibliography

  • Preston, Ward (1994). What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press. ISBN   978-1-879505-18-6.
  • Rizzo, Michael (2015). The Art Direction Handbook for Film & Television (2nd ed.). New York: Focal Press. ISBN   978-1-315-77087-1.

Further reading