ADG Perspective

November-December 2022

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When someone asks me: "What's the hardest thing about being a Production Designer?" I always say: "Trying to become an expert on a subject in twelve weeks!" It's like getting hired to create a visual world I know very little about. For example, a period Western like True Grit or high- end fashion world, The Devil Wears Prada—what did I know about old Western towns or Vogue magazine? Not much, that's for sure. But, I do now because every time I do a show, I get a crash course in the subject. I've only had two movies that I felt comfortable tackling right from the start—A Serious Man, about a bar mitzvah and Moneyball, a sports film. So when I got a call from Noah Baumbach about a 1980s film set in a small college town and during an isolation lockdown, I jumped at the opportunity. I had personally lived through both of these scenarios! I wanted to shoot the movie in Upstate New York where I went to school, but it turned out New York State was too expensive. So, after searching four other states, the production found that Ohio had the best locations to offer and also the best tax credits. Even better was the opportunity I had to collaborate with some familiar crew members. (And it goes without saying that they are just amazing!) Supervising Art Director Chris Farmer, Art Director Zack Gonchor, Senior Set Designer Adam Mull, Illustrator Greg Hill, Lead Graphic Artist Carly Sertic, Graphic Artist Skyler Pinkerton and Assistant Art Director Adam Gascho. I was lucky enough to meet some very talented new people, Assistant Art Director Michael Manne, Set Designers Colin Sieburgh and Stephen Manka, Graphic Designer Camellia Cox and Art Director Stephen Dudro. My favorite moment while working on the movie was when costume designer Ann Roth called me up and said, "Can you please give me three visual references for the movie that tell me what you think the first, second and third acts look like? I just need three pictures from you to let me know what you were thinking." I loved that way of thinking and it hadn't ever been asked of me…I think it's a brilliant way of getting on the same page. Also, the one big reference the creative team kept in mind while making this movie was the film Paris, Texas with its use of light and bold colors and the way it mixes primary colors to make secondary colors. This ended up being a key element to the whole look of our film. A. EXTERIOR ROADWAY MOTEL SET SKETCH BY GREGORY HILL. B. EXT. ROADWAY MOTEL FOAM CORE MODEL IN FRONT OF LOCATION PHOTO. THIS IS LIKE PUTTING A TRANS LIGHT BEHIND A SET. C. VISUAL REFERENCE FOR THE FIRST ACT, TINA BARNEY. D. VISUAL REFERENCE FOR THE SECOND ACT, PARIS, TEXAS. E. VISUAL REFERENCE FOR THE THIRD ACT, ANDREAS GURSKY PHOTO. C D E

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