dystopian film and designers

Production Design: The concept or visual

Concept drawings are impressions of the set, often starting out as simple pencil drawings and becoming full colour renders that encapsulate the look of the film (LoBRUTTO, V., 2002). These can take on many forms from rough sketches to paintings with many being produced using computer software like Sketch Up or Vectorworks. The concept or visual is also used as a tool to show the set or character with possible colour schemes and overall mood of the scene ( BARNWELL, J., 2004). I have always had a fascination with the concept and while researching my project I have come across so many different styles. The following images are taken from various dystopian/post apocalyptic films and TV shows. Here they show how the concept creates the atmosphere and gives an overall impression of setting, props, lighting and colour.

road3

road2

Above: A visual concept from The Road found at  http://liveforfilms.wordpress.com/tag/concept-art/page/3/[sourced on 5/3/14]

TWD_prison_concept_1

Walking Dead 9.jpg-large

Walking Dead 8.jpg-large

Visuals from The Walking Dead found at http://www.thewrap.com/tv/column-post/walking-dead-showrunner-unloads-stash-concept-art-exit-photos-75131 [sourced on 5/3/14]

largecom

largecom3

Visuals from The Children of Men by Peter Popken found at http://abduzeedo.com/astonishing-movie-art-concepts-peter-popken [sourced on 5/3/14]

References:-

Visuals:- http://liveforfilms.wordpress.com/tag/concept-art/page/3/ [sourced on 5/3/14]

http://www.thewrap.com/tv/column-post/walking-dead-showrunner-unloads-stash-concept-art-exit-photos-75131 [sourced on 5/3/14]

http://abduzeedo.com/astonishing-movie-art-concepts-peter-popken [sourced on 5/3/14]

 

Books:- LoBRUTTO, V., 2002. The Filmmakers Guide to Production Design. New York: Allworth press

BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production Design: Architects of the Screen. New York: Wallflower

 

 

Advertisement
Categories: dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Page To Screen: Visualising Literature 1

There are two strands of research that will be my main focus for the practical side of the MA project. One is the role of the production designer in the science fiction genre, the other is the realisation of film designs from a novel. Many films are adapted from literature and recently  there has been an increase within the teenage/young adult category– The Hunger Games being a good example of a book  developed for the screen. The Hunger Games is the most popular Young Adult dystopian novel to date, still dominating the lists on Goodreads.  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12408.Best_Young_Adult_Dystopian_Novels [sourced on 31/01/13]

This is a selection of some of the films that use source material from dystopian books.

pd james  Hunger-Games

Pictures are PD James: The Children of Men  http://www.librarything.com/work/14944#  The Hunger Games http://www.carriesaba.com/blog/the-hunger-games-trilogy-3-books-that-get-you-thinking/

[sourced on 29/01/2014]

I thought I’d look at a few of these books in terms of designing for film before choosing my own source novel, taking on board some of the thoughts and approaches of the Production designers when dealing with literature.  Each film adaption can be different for a number of reasons.

Realism and the director/screenwriter approach

The Children of Men

This film was always going to have a strong guiding force as the director was also the screenwriter. Alfonso Cuaron had definite ideas about where scenes would take place and what details should be included. It was the job of the designers to allow Cuaron’s visions to materialise, solve problems and make sure there was continuity for when the scenes were finally put together.

Production Designer Jim Clay discusses dealing with the screenplay version of the book

Production designer Clay says, “We had to find locations that served all the actions, which are always very clearly in Alfonso’s head from his writing of the screenplay. One of my greatest challenges has been to join all of the pieces together in a convincing way.” http://www.visualhollywood.com/movies/children-of-men/about6.php

Cuaron was also hands on with his approach to the overall vision often adding props to the scene before filming. Actor Michael Caine recalls such a time when the director added  postcards to various areas around the back of the actors ” …It didn’t mean anything to us, but it’s important to him and for the look of his film.”  (www.visualhollywood.com/movies/children-of-men/about6.php)

Detail was also important to the look of the film, particularly when you’re dealing with a near-future England. Here, the director/production designer relationship comes into play as Clay recalls the importance of other creative inputs from Cuaron.

“The job of production designers Kirkland and Clay was to create and provide an expansive, reality-based world full of texture, one with sufficient space to allow for the action of the story. Clay says, “It was very exciting and very challenging for the whole crew, because we were charged with knitting together a series of shots that should hopefully become seamless as one timeless piece of action. Alfonso has a brilliant eye for detail and sometimes, when you’re designing the bigger picture, you forget to put in those detailed elements. He’s constantly reminding us what makes it real.”

There is so much visual information in a novel that it is quite easy to forget important little additions in set dressing. The audience has to be submerged visually from the outset. They have to be told a story through imagery rather than suggested text. Usually in a novel there are descriptions that allow the reader to form elements of scene or props in their imaginations.  Of course each reader will then interpret it in a slightly different way. Readers often flesh out what isn’t always there. (This is often dependent on the wording used in each book as some are more descriptive than others) That’s probably why many readers are often disappointed by the film versions of their beloved stories as they don’t match the images that they have created in their own minds.

Maybe films are and should be treated as  different experiences altogether and it’s the job of the filmmakers and designers to make the story as real as possible. Visually it should speak to an audience on many levels and not just through pure spectacle. Props, visual metaphors and colour palettes help to create a mood and therefore allow the audience to enter the characters heads in a way that might be similar to a book, or as close as possible, through detail and realism.

References:-

Current Young Adult popularity list to date https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12408.Best_Young_Adult_Dystopian_Novels [sourced 31/01/14]

Images from  http://www.librarything.com/work/14944# [sourced on 29/01/14]

http://www.carriesaba.com/blog/the-hunger-games-trilogy-3-books-that-get-you-thinking/ [sourced on 29/01/14]

Article  information  from   http://www.visualhollywood.com/movies/children-of-men/about6.php [sourced on 29/01/14]

Categories: dystopian film and designers, Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Production Designer: Views and roles in an everchanging industry

I have come across various points of view on the changing role of the Production designer.

Essentially film and T.V. is all about story and the act of telling/visualising it and portraying it to an audience. It’s the Director’s point of view and the audience’s experience, blending old design techniques with new.

While this is the case, experiences can vary from film to film for the Production Designer with a few designers feeling that the post-production stage of the film process takes away the control of the designer. However, others embrace it or re-invent the role.

I recently read a chapter in which Production Designer Alex McDowell went on to explain how he sees the role of the Production Designer in the modern world. I was interested to see how he saw his role as a more holistic part of the team; the production designer role having no real boundaries physically or digitally.

McDowell also has the un-popular view that a Production Designer doesn’t always need the set of skills that are taught at art college/film schools including drafting, modelling, drawing abilities etc.

“I think the primary quality is not entirely different from what makes a good director it has a lot to do with the ability to visualise and tell stories, to hold a vision of a world and help your team attain it” says Alex McDowell. (HALLIGAN,F., 2012. p138-141)

While I think that my own development of these skills is important at this stage of my career, I do think there is a lot to be taken from McDowell’s views and experience. I like to see a project as a ‘bigger picture’ and I also like to have an understanding of all the processes even if I don’t have all the skills. I work holistically, a ‘Jack of all trades’ so naturally I see where he is coming from in terms of the overall film process and design.

With this in mind I narrowed down some of his comments and thoughts to help with my research and development below:-

1. The acceptance of the digital age.

2. The ability to visualise and tell stories over the ability to draw or draft.

3. Ability to pitch ideas as both physical and digital. That the design exists in all spaces, both physical and virtual.

4. The role of Production Designer is much bigger now, gone are the days of pre-production/production/post production. The designer is there to see that the overall design follows through.

5. Education in the film industry needs to incorporate these changes.

References:- HALLIGAN, F., 2012. Production Design. Lewes: ILEX Press

Categories: dystopian film and designers, General research, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Film Focus:The Hunger Games (Catching Fire)

After watching Catching Fire at the cinema a couple of weeks ago I made some notes on the overall visual impression that the film gave me.

The beginning of the film focuses on district 12 as the location and straight away the audience is immersed into a cold, poverty-stricken world of mining in a dystopian world. Visually I noticed how dark it was. It was winter of course and the weather certainly reflected the state of mind of the characters and of the district itself. Without reading into the hows and whys of the decision-making between the Director, Production Designer and Director of Photography I can only assume, as an audience member that this is deliberate–a metaphor of character and situation, influenced by the original novel.  A visual representation of the old poorer world.

district 12 2

Still from Catching Fire from www.IMDb.com  picture courtesy of Lionsgate (2013)

The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion

District 12 (The Hunger Games) http://thehungergames2012.wordpress.com/

Later on in the film, The Capitol shows the stark contrast. The Capitol is the governing city for all the districts of future America and  is shown as brightly coloured, modern, clean and almost surreal in its portrayal of the people who live there. A depiction of the new improved world that is more technologically advanced.

the-hunger-games-catching-fire-trailer-screenshot-the-capitol-2

A screenshot from the film trailer of The Capitol from turntherightcorner.com  picture courtesy of Lionsgate (2013)

catching fire 1

Scene from Catching Fire from www.IMDb.com  courtesy of Lionsgate (2013)

To the main character Katniss Everdeen it’s an alien world. Flamboyant and unnecessary given the poverty of her own district and others, but she is forced to conform; to save her family, her own life and that of her friends.

Dystopian film and fiction seems to exaggerate opposites. The ruling classes are often shown as rich, while the masses are poorer much like society of today only taken to extremes. Like survivors of post apocalyptic stories, the poorer dystopian communities are forced to return to a simpler way of life in regards to occupations, technology and the housing that is available to them.

Production Designer:- Philip Messina

Director:- Francis Lawrence

Approx budget:- $130 Million

References:-

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2518473984/tt1951264?ref_=ttmi_mi_typ_sf_41 [sourced on 23/12/2013]

http://thehungergames2012.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/photos-district-12seam-digital-rendering/ [sourced on 23/12/2013]

http://turntherightcorner.com/2013/07/21/the-hunger-games-catching-fire-trailer-reveals-the-quarter-quell-102-screenshots/the-hunger-games-catching-fire-trailer-screenshot-the-capitol-2/ [sourced on 23/12/2013]

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2827670272/tt1951264?ref_=ttmd_md_pv [sourced on 23/12/2013]

Categories: Dystopian and post-apocalyptic philosophy, dystopian film and designers, Film and TV focus | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Designing the future: Clarifying dystopian and post apocalyptic

Designs of the future can be divided into utopian or dystopian in their  underpinning conception. The surface design tends to fall into a limited set of styles, defined as futurism, retro futurism, realism, gothic and post apocalyptic” (BARNWELL, J., 2004: pg 100)

I have already looked at some futurism art references so I will now turn my attentions to post apocalyptic futures and what dystopian actually means in terms of society, film and literature.

When dealing with film and fiction, dystopia and post apocalyptic are usually categorised as separate types of film although some stories encompass both situations.

Dystopian:- The antithesis of utopian: figuring a nightmarish world in which rational impulses to engineer society back-fire dangerously. (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000)

dys·to·pi·a

noun

a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.(online. available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dystopian?s=t  [sourced on 21/12/2013]
So looking at recent films I can start to clarify what films are classed as dystopian:-
min rep
Minority Report (2002) Picture and budget courtesy of IMDb.com  :-
In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/
Production Designer:- Alex McDowell
Director:- Steven Spielberg

Budget:

$102,000,000               (estimated)

Utopian:- An imaginary state of ideal harmony and perfection derived from Thomas More’s Utopia (1516).  (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000) For the purposes of comparison.

Post apocalyptic:-

a·poc·a·lyp·tic

adjective

1.

of or like an apocalypse; affording a revelation or prophecy.
2.

pertaining to the Apocalypse or biblical book of Revelation.
3.

predicting or presaging imminent disaster and total or universal destruction: the apocalyptic vision of some contemporary writers.
(online. available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/post-apocalyptic?s=t [sourced on 21/12/2013]
So anything set after  apocalyptic events such as large-scale environmental disasters, widespread viruses, biblical events, wars etc. Living in the after times is termed as post apocalyptic.
the road
The Road (2009) picture and information  courtesy of IMDb.com
A post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Production Designer:- Chris Kennedy
Director:- John Hillcoat

Budget:

$25,000,000               (estimated)

The films and books are often categorised together as there is often a cross over of ideas, situations or causes. The same audiences or readers are drawn to both kind of stories as seen in on-line book groups such as Apocalypse Whenever found at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/967-apocalypse-whenever. Both types of story are generally about forms of survival.
What I will be looking at as part of my research is the audience/social context  through engaging with fans of the genre but also as a designer thinking about such questions as:- Are there differences between the two strands of dystopian and post apocalyptic stories in terms of design? Do they present the same problems in terms of budget and approach?
At first glance at the two example films above, there does seem to be quite a difference between the size of budgets. I will look at this in more detail in future research.
References:- BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production design: Architects of the Screen. London, New York: Wallflower
                        KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. Science Fiction cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. London:
                        Wallflower
                        Online sources :- https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/967-apocalypse-whenever
                                                        www.IMDb.com
                                                        http://dictionary.reference.com [All sourced on 21/12/2013]
Categories: Dystopian and post-apocalyptic philosophy, dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Case studies and films: Starting points

I’m compiling a list of potential films and television programmes with their Production Designers that will feature in my research over the next few weeks. Which ones that will become full case studies will depend on the amount of information I can gather and whether I can have contact with them in order to ask the relevant questions. This list is work in progress, so will be added to.

Post-Apocalyptic

Gae S. Buckley:- The Book of Eli

Dom Clasby :- Derren Brown’s Apocalypse (TV)

Chris Kennedy:- The Road

Greg Melton:- The Walking Dead (TV)

Mark Tildesley:- 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later

Grace Walker:- The Walking Dead (TV)

Dystopian

Jim Clay:- Children of Men

Andy Nicholson:- Divergent

Philip Messina:- The Hunger Games/Catching Fire

Other sci-fi

Alex McDowell:- Minority Report

Categories: dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Case Studies: Thoughts and practicalities

I now have to consider the next phase of my project which includes the gathering of research, information, skills etc that will inform my final project. My project is mainly about the role of the Production Designer in a technically advancing world, particularly focusing on the pre-production stage. It may well be that this progresses to include the changing role of the PD in regards to how much they are involved in all three stages–right through to post production, and possibly overseeing elements of the CGI process.  I may want to consider whether PD’s want to, or feel it necessary to do this? Whether budget would permit it? Whether what the PD does at pre-production is enough to visually guide the film later on?

Over the next month I will gather a selection of designers to study, focusing on my chosen genre of Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian film/TV. I will also look at the films/programmes that have been produced in the genre that will inform the case studies, my own design processes and see how they relate to the current contexts and trends in the genre.

After having a look for details of a handful of Production Designers it seems clear that contacting them may present some problems, particularly if I want specific designers that worked on my chosen productions. Some are on Linked-In, some are represented by agents and some don’t seem to exist on the internet or social networks.

With this in mind, I see the case studies/research films being split into primary and secondary sources. The first group being those that fit the criteria in terms of genre and that include contact with the designers through some kind of question and answer session. The second group will mainly rely on research sources such as films/behind the scenes documentaries, on-line articles and Q & A sessions initiated by others. I would like to have at least 3 case studies that include email contact with my chosen designers and possibly a further 3 that will give me other forms of information which contain less detail but will still be relevant for my practical work.

Categories: dystopian film and designers, General research, post-apocalyptic film and design | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.