Congratulations to all of the nominees for the
92nd Academy Awards Oscar(R) for Production Design!
Special kudos to SDSA members for their nominations:
Set Decorator Regina Graves SDSA along with Production Designer Bob Shaw for THE IRISHMAN
Set Decorator Nora Sopková SDSA and Production Designer Ra Vincent SDSA for JOJO RABBIT
See below for a glimpse of their films!
For full list of Oscar® nominees click here.
Set Decorator Regina Graves SDSA
Production Designer Bob Shaw
“I didn’t want the film to look like anything, I wanted everything to be ‘real’,” says Director Martin Scorsese.
Production Designer Bob Shaw and Set Decorator Regina Graves SDSA made that happen, whether on stage or location, sometimes even in the exact location where actual events took place. Although, the events occurred in decades past, thus still involving much work to re-create!
In fact, there were 295 sets for this film, re-creating eras from the 1950s to the 1990s. And not just quick two-shots. There was such depth to the sets to ensure that reality, that one would forget that the film had captured us for more than three hours! Part of that was grounded in their own realities, including family backgrounds and previous period specific projects which garnered each of them awards. Shaw for THE SOPRANOS, Graves for THE KNICK. Shaw’s mother’s family was from South Philadelphia, the key setting/home base for the film.
Graves smiles, “This time period and style is very easy for me to digest and get right, as I know it very well having grown up in an Italian American household with my Italian grandmother living just below us. I call it ‘Italian Provincial’...Plastic slipcovered furniture, Italian landscapes, religious art and statuary, lamps that usually come in pairs, man/woman figures, lots of greens, golds, reds, oranges. Smalls, like saints and rosaries, Palm Sunday palms saved and in the form of a cross, family photos, bronzed baby shoes, saved Mass cards, doilies, cut-embroidered tablecloths…That bottle of Galliano or Sambuca in the china closet...”*
Bob would tell Regina stories and describe elements from his childhood, and Regina delighted in working with her team to find some of the vintage pieces he described, and surprise him with their discoveries.
She credits her assistant set decorators and entire team with not just pulling off that number of sets, but with period correct and specific details. Not only the exact ‘70s Corning ware, or different era recliners, or hundreds of ashtrays, but also 20 matching period prison tables or all the elements for a 1950s bowling alley or furnishing Jimmy Hoffa’s contemporary office in Washington DC and so many other offices, some of which changed subtly or radically over the eras depicted. Senate hearing and courtrooms and huge union events. The homes, and how they transformed over time and changes in family. Myriad hotel lobbies and rooms, casinos and clubs to small family-owned restaurants and diners...including the classic setting, neighborhood restaurant Villa di Roma, a mob boss’s de facto office...and an equally impressive number of exteriors, from period gas stations to fully-dressed town & city streets, garages, neighborhoods...and cemeteries.
After all, it is a film about the evolving and devolving life of a hitman.
Villa di Roma...
Robert De Niro. Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Joe Pesci.
Photo by Niko Tavernise ©2019 Netflix
Andrea Doria Social Club...Go to Film Décor for the delightful insider story about this window with THE statue of San Gennaro!
Courtesy Netflix ©2019
*For much, much more, a great conversation with Bob & Regina, go to Film Decor!
Set Decorator Nora Sopková SDSA
Production Designer Ra Vincent SDSA
If you’re going to tell a seemingly impossible story, it’s best to find artistic souls who will equally embrace that experience. Director Taika Waititi reached out early on to his friend Production Designer Ra Vincent SDSA, who in turn brought on Set Decorator Nora Sopková SDSA.
Vincent says, “Nora has a really beautiful way of describing mood, color and furnishings in a bit more of a theatrical approach.”* He and Sopková embraced Waititi’s improvisational style by offering inspirational settings and being completely open to collaboration.
Waititi wanted a look for the film that was unexpected and filled with the spirit of childhood. Because the audience is seeing through the eyes of a 10-year-old, instead of the usual grayed-out colors of war-time films, Vincent chose to have the film’s palette begin in rich, vibrant tones. “At Jojo’s age things are a little more rosy-tinted and the world seems bigger and more amazing. So, we set out to try to re-create this feeling, but within 1940s Germany.”
As the events in the film grow darker, the colors change. “For the happier, more playful moments in the film, we used a diverse palette of oversaturated colors. Then, we taper those off as more drama comes into play.”
For the Betzler’s home, Vincent and Sopková looked to the artistic movements that had flourished in that period. “The building itself is a typically baroque, terraced, stone house but we decided that in furnishing and decorating it, the Betzlers would be very switched on and with the times. That era between 1930 and 1945 was actually a revolutionary one for style in Europe, despite the war. And Rosie is a very stylish woman, so her house has a lot of flair, with very modern, Art Deco designs.”
Although the exteriors and some interiors were shot in two small towns in the Czech Republic, considering the importance of the set to the film, Vincent built the Betzler house onstage at Barrandov Studios in Prague, using handcraft techniques for the “papering” plaster/stone walls. There they could have more control over space and rolling walls, with rooms opening one into another, the two stories built together, to give flexibility for Waititi and Director of Photography Mihai Malamaire to improvise and move. “The interior of the house was incredible for us,” says the DP. “Ra’s sets were so rich that we could shoot in every direction and it was pure joy.”
While the downstairs and her bedroom reflected Rosie’s vivaciousness and risk-taking style...her wall-sized parquet & marquetry headboard was designed from the inspiration of a unique art deco piece Nora had found...Jojo’s bedroom was a shocking combination of little boy and Nazi-zealot. With an absent father during the war, he had embraced an imaginary friend, a boy’s vision of Hitler! Softened tones and fabrics imbued a sad, wistful othertime in his sister’s bedroom. We know it locked secrets of the past, but it also leads to a hidden attic space where her friend, a Jewish girl is concealed.
Ra imparts, “All those intimate spaces acted like individual story moments or emotional beats.” There were also battle scenes and terrible events in the town plaza, beautiful moments and tragic happenings, but in the end, as Taika says, the essence of the film is the need for tolerance. “Less hate, more love.”
*For much, much more, check Film Decor this weekend for a great conversation with Ra about the making of this incredible film!
Betzler Dining Room... Jojo, dining with an imaginary friend and an amazing mother!
Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson.
Courtesy Searchlight Pictures©2019
Betzler Living Room...Art Deco wonder!
Courtesy Searchlight Pictures ©2019