Patrice Vermette

Patrice Vermette

AS: So as he’s reaching down to the ground—
PV: In the shot you see a fox.

AS: Nice.

That’s my approach in every film. I like the subliminal symbolism in films. In the movie C.R.A.Z.Y., we hung a specific painting in Zach, the main character’s bedroom when he’s a teenager. Zach turns out to be gay. The painting is one he made of the Pink Floyd album cover from Dark Side of the Moon. The prism, the triangle. I picked that album because the prism projects the rainbow, the colors of the rainbow. So it’s like seeing into the future.

AS: In terms of creating the symbolism is that easier to do when you’re building on stages? On location was it just a matter of bringing set dressing?
PV: Bringing set dressing or finding the rooms that suited the vision. It’s not just finding any room that looks great. It’s about finding a room that looks great but also follows the vision.

AS: Tells the story.
PV: Yes, tells the story. We shot the Duchess of Kent’s drawing room at a castle where there was a great regency style room that was just totally, totally over the top. That room was peacock-themed which I thought was perfect for her.

AS: Before you did the short with Jean-Marc that lead to The Young Victoria, you studied at university?
PV: Yes. I started very young actually. I studied sound design at Concordia in Montreal. That’s why I often compare production design with sound design because both create moods. Just as music creates moods, production design should create moods. Good music in a film puts you in a mood but you don’t hear the music -it simply puts you right where you have to be.

AS: That reminds me of a story. There was this DP working with a new director on a film and they were shooting in a cave. The DP was positioning the lights and the director asked, Where is all the light coming from? We’re in a cave! And the DP said, The same place the music is coming from!
PV: (laughing) That’s funny! That’s a good story. So the last year at Concordia I did a multitude of soundtracks to student films. I wrote the music for the scores and played the music and recording it. My friends for whom I’d done the soundtracks started working as production assistants for commercials so I started doing that too. They hired me when they needed an extra production assistant. And I looked at the people who were doing the set construction -they seemed to be the ones having the most fun! Little did I know they were the ones working the hardest!

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About the Interviewer

Tom Lisowski is a production designer who has designed swamp mazes shot in China, crumbling cliffs in Utah, future arenas in South Central, dilapidated tenements and twisted laboratories under luxurious mansions... William Anthony is a Los Angeles-based commercial and editorial photographer specializing in portraiture, lifestyle and documentary imagery... Guest photographer Nelson Cragg is an award-winning cinematographer who shoots and directs television, feature films, and commercial projects. Contact ArtStars: tom@artstars.us