ADG Perspective

January-February 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 69 of 123

by Eggert Ketilsson, Supervising Art Director DUNKIRK ART DIRECTION ON LAND, AT SEA AND IN THE AIR The film Dunkirk is based on events that occurred during the Second World War, in 1940, when the British troops were desperately trying to get out of France and cross the English Channel to safety. The film takes place on land, at sea and in the air. beginning, but reached one hundred and twenty at the peak of construction in France. The French team also helped manufacture sets that were transported for filming in Holland and England. The city of Dunkirk was extremely helpful in providing workshops, contacts and offices. There was also a very supportive Los Angeles Art Department office, and Joe Ondrejko, our U.S. construction coordinator, kept his firm hand on the construction budget. DUNKIRK INNER STREETS AND THE OPENING TO THE BEACH Looking at the reference materials from the 1940s, it was amazing how modern and industrial the city of Dunkirk looked, and that became the guideline for the look of the sets and locations. Early on, Production Designer Nathan Crowley and director Chris Nolan scouted streets that were suitable for the story and the period, but modern architecture and PVC had of course, invaded some parts, so about five hundred different elements had to be built and changed for the opening of the film, the escape toward the beach. Also on that path would be the French military resistance in the only sandbag barricade seen in the film, provided by supervising set decorator Gary Fettis and his team. A. Truck pier and cut-out destroyer on low tide. B. Flattened image of Dunkirk inner streets. C. Café verandas used to narrow the exit to the beach. D. Actor Fionn Whitehead as Tommy on the inner streets of Dunkirk, making his escape to the beach. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon E. The beachfront and the café verandas. Photoshop elevation by graphic designer Amanda Riffo. The decision to film on the actual location where the events took place in Dunkirk, was both challenging and very helpful. In addition to filming in France, the film was also shot in Urk, UJsselmeer in Holland, and in Weymouth and Swanage, both in South England. The vast majority of filming was done on location, with a very brief shoot utilizing a soundstage in Los Angeles. As the Art Department started scouting Dunkirk, and then working in Paris late January 2016, we realised the size of the task and that we needed large strokes for our canvas. The budget and time frame were quite limited, and we needed to keep all hands on deck to manage. The French Art Department and construction team, lead by Art Director Stéphane Cressend, Art Department coordinator Loïc Chavanon and local construction manager Ludovic Erbelding, along with Guy Belegaud, the US construction foreman, were of utter importance, and the starting date for the construction was mid-February, with a deadline of the twenty-third of May, the first day of filming. The size of the Art Department, including construction crew, was approximately fifty personnel in the

Articles in this issue

view archives of ADG Perspective - January-February 2018