Patrice Vermette

Patrice Vermette

Also, lazy people shouldn’t go into production design. Lazy people shouldn’t think about doing any job in the art department! You have to be a bit crazy to do it. You need a bit of insanity as well!

AS: What do you do when you disagree with the director or producers?
PV: Well in the end of the day the director is always the one that you’re working for. If he doesn’t agree you have to remember he’s the captain of the ship. But the director has to choose you the same way you choose your own team. He chooses people who will be able to be in line with his vision and also to bring their own vision to help his vision grow.

But you know, I’m pretty convincing. I learned that doing TV commercials, because there you have to convince people all the time. You need to just be passionate about your ideas. If they’re good the director or the producer will go for them.

You also have to be able to say okay, I was wrong. And at the end of the day it’s the director’s film. Good producers are also intelligent and have some ideas. They will bring another dimension to the film, they are people who will listen as well. Good discussion in preproduction solves so many things. You can never emphasize that enough.

AS: What was it like working with set decorator Maggie Gray on The Young Victoria?
PV: She’s got a great sense of humor. We’re a great team because we’re both intuitive. She knows when it’s time to push for an idea and to when retreat. We’re a good team because in discussion with production we’d always be on the same page. It was just wonderful. Maggie has so much experience and I was lucky to have someone like that willing to work with me. She’s done all sorts of films. Obviously she did the set decoration on Brazil but she also did a smaller film called the Life and Death of Peter Sellers. And when I saw that film I just related a lot to the design and the set decoration in it. Hopefully Maggie and I have many years together in the future.

AS: You mentioned on the panel that one of your earliest production design inspirations was Star Wars.
PV: My dad took me to see Star Wars when I was seven years old. His dream was for me to become a lawyer like him, just to follow in his footsteps like every dad, but his mistake was to take me to see that film! From that moment on I knew what I was wanted to do!

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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