Production Design in Cinema & Theatre


In the “Matrix”, the production designer relied on Japanese comic books to help visualize the sets for the movie. The influence of the Japanese comic books can easily be seen in the action sequences of this film particularly in the fighting scenes. I thought the Wachowski Brothers went to great lengths in their set designs. I was in Oakland, Ca when they built the freeway set for the car chase scene in the second installment of the series.

fb_share_kaThey actually built a small freeway, a few miles long, just for that scene alone down by the old army base. Other movies that come to mind are “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Harry Potter Films”, and “The Pirates of the Caribbean movies”. “Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams” set designs consisted mostly of outside shots of the countryside, which I thought were beautifully done. A few shots appeared to be done on a sound stage, such as the scene in the winter blizzard storm. I also loved the costumes in this movie. Many of the scenes were influenced by paintings. As a side note, I just got back from Las Vegas last month working on a project and while we were down there we saw Cirque Du Soleil’s “KA'” at the MGM. WOW!!!

Talk about sets, although it was not a film, this set has the worlds largest moving stage. It was absolutely extraordinary!!! There were huge fireworks and the sound was loud and powerful. The acrobatics and martial arts was icing on the cake. I highly recommend this show. The cinematography was excellent in “Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams”. Akira_Kurosawa_Dreams_000
I, as an audience member, viewed these short stories from my own point of view from that of the director’s but it was positively received. As discussed earlier, it’s impossible for the director, the cinematographer, and the production designer, to all be on the exact same page as to express the vision that was intended by the director. At the same time, it’s impossible for all audience members to perceive a film in the director’s vision. These perceptions can vary a great degree from person to person. The writer pens a story which the director interprets visually. The director then employs the services of the cinematographer and production designer, which are the next two most important positions in the production, who help the director realize his vision through what the camera sees.

It’s possible and does happen from time to time where the director and the cinematographer are the same person but I believe in most cases something is lost when that happens. The director is not focused 100% on the development of the story. This brings us back to the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus influence on American cinema was one of the greatest contributions to world cinema. I find it interesting that many directors today are former script supervisors and that assistant directors are least likely or least desired for these directing positions.

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