90th Academy Awards for 2017 Films

February 20th, 2018 by Karen Burg

Congratulations to all of the nominees for the 90th Academy Awards Oscar(R)
for Outstanding Production Design!

Special congrats to SDSA members...
Alessandra Querzola SDSA and Katie Spencer SDSA   

See below for a glimpse of each of their films!
For full list of Oscar® nominees click here.


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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Set Decorator Katie Spencer SDSA Production Designer Sarah Greenwood Walt Disney The exquisite live-action film has a timeless feel in the tradition of the great Hollywood romances. However, as opposed to an undated alternate fairy tale universe, the story is set in a specific time and place: mid-18th century France, the village Villeneuve named after the author of the original tale La Belle et la Bête [1740]. Keying off of that, every detail and line is embraced and enhanced. The distant castle, designed in the French Rococo style of that period, evolves with the story, changing from desolation to exuberance. The castle’s ballroom is a massive set, the floor made from 12,000 square feet of faux marble. Production Designer Sarah Greenwood based the design on a pattern found on the ceiling of the Benedictine Abbey in Braunau, Czech Republic. Set Decorator Katie Spencer SDSA brought in ten crystal chandeliers, each measuring 14 x 7 feet, based on chandeliers from Versailles. Belle’s bedroom, like the ballroom, is located in the benevolent enchantment area of the castle and is designed to appeal to every child as the ideal fairy tale bedroom.

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The West Wing, where the Beast often retreats, is the epicenter of the enchantment and is designed in Italian baroque, which is more sinister and dark in appearance. The castle’s library is a key setting, relevant to an important theme in the story: the thirst for knowledge and the vital role books play in feeding the imagination. The floor is made from approximately 2,000 square feet of faux marble and features thousands of books which were created especially for the production. The team had the additional challenge of creating sets and furnishings that could withstand the dance numbers...and the choreography...pieces could not be moved once set in place! Beyond the massive castle, sets were highly layered, especially those such as Maurice’s workshop where the level of set dressing is even more detailed and dense. The beautiful music boxes Maurice creates, complete with incredible gilded castings, were all made by hand and depicted different cities and countries from around the world. Because they exist in an enchanted and magical environment, these are not just music boxes, but portals to other worlds...a fitting microcosm of the entire film. Photos: The Beast [Dan Stevens] and Belle [Emma Watson] have something in common...a love of books... The Rocco-style bedroom, reminiscent of Versailles, is infinitely fairy-tale-esque! Photos ©2016 Disney Enterprises *Check Film Decor for a detailed article re: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

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BLADE RUNNER 2049 Set Decorator Alessandra Querzola SDSA Production Designer Dennis Gassner Warner Bros. “On set, as we are shooting, very often there are very strong poetic moments that will not happen in front of a green screen...I strongly believe in real environments,” Director Denis Villeneuve purports re: BLADE RUNNER 2049, the stand-alone sequel tribute to Ridley Scott’s seminal dystopian science fiction epic. Production Designer Dennis Gassner and Set Decorator Alessandra Querzola SDSA provided exactly that: deeply atmospheric fully realized, slightly futuristic noir sets that not only conveyed the solitude and loneliness at the heart of the film, but offered the director, cinematographer and actors distinctive worlds within a world. Gassner created what he refers to as “a pattern language” based on the redesign of the air car, the spinner, Blade Runner K’s, vehicle of choice. Querzola implemented it throughout the film, providing design and décor details, including the technological features, from video monitors and scanners to myriad innovative devices, while collaborating intensely with art directors and other key production teams. The lighting she and her team provided was critical for DP Roger Deakins [also nominated for an Academy Award], as he created the equivalent of photographic paintings for the screen...

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...images flowing and holding...streams of light adding an other-worldliness, at times a muted glow...the harsh lighting of the police compound...or darkened pathways only punctuated with light. Sets ranged from the almost barren minimalism of K’s apartment and Wallace’s compound, to the huge penthouse and defunct casino in the ruins of Las Vegas or the Dickensian massive computer salvage sweatshop...an orphanage, or rather dumping house of orphans, with seemingly endless tables and vats of parts, wires, keyboards, motherboards and metal plates being sorted by hundreds of small children. Villeneuve says his “favorite set of all time” was the derelict erotic sculpture garden barely discernible through the rusty fog, eerily silent silhouettes fading in and out of the background behind a grouping of active beehives that stood like teeming pawns in a chess game of the gods of long ago. Utilizing contemporary graphics and advertising techniques pushed into the future, gigantic holographic billboards and 3-D images brought a colorful interactive surrealism to the dystopian grey city, while an old-fashioned pot cooking on a vintage stove in a worn farmhouse and a faded photograph hidden in an ancient piano showed the “human” side of an aged-out replicant. Somehow, beauty was everywhere, even in the bleakest of settings and seemingly limitless despair. Soulfulness is visually defined, but the question of who truly has it, whether it is measurable, remains... Photos: Blade runner K’s apartment [Ryan Gosling] K tracks down former blade runner Rick Deckhard [Harrison Ford]... Photos by Stephen Vaughan ©2017 Warner Bros. Pictures *Check Film Decor next week for a gallery of photos from the film! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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DARKEST HOUR Set Decorator Katie Spencer SDSA Production Designer Sarah Greenwood Focus Features No it’s not a misprint! Spencer and Greenwood moved from the gorgeous 1740s fairy tale to the harsh reality of World War II and literally the darkest hour for newly elected Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his nation, momentarily the only holdouts against the extreme of Nazi fascism. This is the eve of Dunkirk and the brink of Great Britain’s sovereignty. Churchill was well aware that decisions made now would affect the destiny of not only the British people, but of the free world. And the tides of war and politics were crashing against the cliffs of time and all around him. Keen to not revisit locations that are used time and time again, Greenwood and Spencer re-created 1940 Downing Street in a derelict Georgian house in Yorkshire. A complete transformation, the set offered the actors and director freedom and flexibility to move about from room to room. Buckingham Palace was captured in another revamp, a fabled country estate fallen into dishabille transformed into the stately elegance of its bygone origins.

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Two other major sets were built at Shepperton Studios: the House of Commons and the massive maze of The War Rooms. Building the parliament house allowed for accuracy—the actual House of Commons had been struck by a bomb in 1941 and the subsequent rebuild used a lighter wood—the set offered the darker, richer look of the day. Director Joe Wright points out, “The whole script builds towards what happens there...Winston’s unforgettable speech on the 4th of June, 1940.” In the film, the speech is delivered by Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Oldman, who inhabited all of the sets, impressed by each, the labyrinthine War Rooms in particular. “Even the pins were in the right places. It was eerily like the actual War Rooms, certainly among the best-designed sets I’ve ever been on. The detail was staggeringly good. I opened up a couple of books that were ‘lying around’ and they were remarkable re-creations of logs and journals.” Actress Lily James confirms, “It was amazing. I opened up a drawer, and there were sugar rations as well as pencils ground down from use.” A complete build over 2 stages, Spencer describes the sets as a microcosm of life above ground. Greenwood adds, “There was a guiding sense of ‘make do and mend’. The War Rooms are like an evolving mess, from which came Churchill’s foresight of what to do.” Photos: Buckingham Palace: King George [Ben Mendelsohn] formally invites Winston Churchill [Gary Oldman] to become Prime Minister of Great Britain... A sliver of the labyrinthine maze of the War Rooms... Photos by Jack English ©2017 Focus Features *Check Director's Chair for an interview with Director Joe Wright about the set for the film, and his long term collaboration with Spencer and Greenwood ! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~