Set Decorator Paul Hotte SDSA
Production Designer Patrice Vermette
Communication is the essence of our art, of storytelling—verbally, visually and beyond. So there is an almost visceral connection to the intensive push to communicate with an alien species who has not only entered our atmosphere, but hovers a few not-quite touchable feet above the ground. Twelve of them, in seemingly random, odd locations...
But the story begins and ends with “The Story of Your Life,” a mother’s remembrance of the future and past of her daughter’s life on earth and how it interconnects with the flow of time.
From this quiet reflective state, events suddenly escalate to a frenzied pace as the world reacts to strangers not quite among us, but very much there – and a desperate need to communicate, to find out why they have come. Is it a peaceful mission or the harbinger of war?
Fear dominates many of the reactions around the world, but small, dedicated groups in each touchdown place diligently try to find a key, a way to connect, to converse, before the more radical elements of our society go automatically into war mode.
Set Decorator Nancy Haigh SDSA
Production Designer Jess Gonchor
Reflecting the glitter of the star machine during Hollywood’s heyday, with the studio system solidly in place, we spend 24 hours with Eddie Mannix [Josh Brolin], the world- weary, overstressed but brilliant studio fixer, in the year 1951.
Mannix spends his days putting out fires, from sexual peccadilloes and potential newspaper scandals to coaxing religious leaders’ approval of the latest Biblical spectacle, Hail, Caesar, with superstar Baird Whitlock [George Clooney] in the title role.
Unfortunately, the man’s philandering and carousing is unparalleled, which causes Mannix daily headaches among a kaleidoscope of problems he juggles:
...Aquatic beauty DeAnna Moran [Scarlett Johansson] currently shooting her latest underwater extravaganza informs him of her unexpected pregnancy...
...the studio’s singing cowboy Hobie Doyle [Alden Ehrenreich] is being forced into an elegant leading man role in a drawing room drama with the persnickety, sophisticated director Laurence Laurentz [Ralph Fiennes]...
...the tap dancing musical star Burt Gurney’s [Channing Tatum] secrets are about to be revealed by gossip columnists...
...Baird is kidnapped and held for ransom by a mysterious group known as The Future – screenwriters who are demanding their due!
LA LA LAND
Set Decorator Sandy Reynolds-Wasco SDSA
Production Designer David Wasco
The then-yet-now-ness of LA LA LAND bursts onto the screen from the opening moments when we joyfully leap into the heartbeat of LA, all sunshine, high energy and traffic. From that very large nugget, golden dreams are spun, Hollywood and music entwined, and we experience the highs and lows and places between, underscored and expressed through a magic we once held close and have found again, the Hollywood musical.
Justifiably nominated for Best of just about everything, it certainly earns the nod for Production Design. The team of Production Designer David Wasco and Set Decorator Sandy Reynolds-Wasco SDSA are known for cutting edge and highly stylized design. Here their métier shines.
The Wascos referenced films cinephiles will recognize, and paid homage to the visual artistry of the musical genre, especially in the climatic number Epilogue. “Director Damien Chazelle wanted to go into this extremely heightened fantasy world of LA and Paris on a studio backlot, which we created with painted backdrops so that the look is very, very theatrical.” They also cite the influences of such painters as Ed Ruscha and David Hockney, who explored the mythologies of Los Angeles, and the French Fauvist painter, Raoul Dufy, known for his ecstatic washes of color.
Set Decorator Gene Serdena SDSA
Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas
One doesn’t use the words gorgeous, dazzling, alluring, stunning about a spaceship—perhaps impressive, sleek, dynamic—but all apply to the exquisite look of the Avalon, the most fashion-forward, glamorous ship we’ve seen, and being fans of sci-fi, we’ve seen many.
The teaming of Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas and Set Decorator Gene Serdena was otherworldly in its perfection. Since childhood, Dyas had dreamed of building a spaceship inside and out, and PASSENGERS made that dream a reality. Serdena has always been on the cutting edge of design and decor. The result was a series of enormous, hugely memorable sets that brought the Avalon to life.
Looking to the future, they created a spaceship with an intricate design that uses the centrifugal force from spinning blades to create gravity, and contains the robots, holograms and other technology that the future has in store, as well as incorporating a “nostalgic design” inspired by Art Deco and classic Hollywood.
“The past is with us, the past inspires us...and I wanted to have the past to be very present in this film about the future,” says Tyldum. However, the director did not want to rely on visual effects and green screens.