David Warren

David Warren

AS: You yourself do a lot of the sketches?
DW: I do, yeah, because that’s my background. I come from a background of illustration so the first thing I reach for in any situation is a pencil. And in the early stages we were hammering out drawings on the drawing board. When Terry likes it he comes over and puts his fingers all over it and it gets messy. Then he grabs a pencil and he starts scribbling on your drawing. That’s the language that we used to make decisions. Because the trouble with Terry is that ideas, when they are written in the script by him and Charles, read very esoteric. I mean, you know when I first read the script with some of the landscapes I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. You’ve got to see the image and as soon as you see the image you go, Oh, that’s the shape of the mountain. Oh, that’s what you mean by the balloon…

AS: It was you and Anastasia Masaro working together at all times?
DW: No, because in the history of the film I came on earlier than she did. When I came on I hit the ground running and I started sketching and drawing. She came on the set six weeks or so later and then she had to get up to speed very quickly in England. So we prepped it together in the UK and the plan was always that she would run the Canadian half of the shoot. That was the sets that went on blue-screen stages and some locations and also anything we didn’t complete in and around the wagon. So that’s more or less how we divided the work.

AS: Did you enjoy working with Peerless and with visual effects in general as a designer?
DW: I get a huge kick out of it. The effects work in a visual effects film is integral to the design which is why Robert Stromberg’s work became so integral to Rick Carter’s on Avatar.

You break it down around a big table. You go through the sequences at length, talk through the line between physicality, miniature, and CG. That’s always a negotiation around a table -you don’t go and decide in that in a closed room. You’ve got to sit together and say, What if we build that? You sure you need that? Well, hang on a minute that’s grass so we do need that because it’s a hell of a thing to do digitally. No matter what we do in the future, films will always be made by people, not computers. The way that it is thrashed out is by people talking over endless nights and cups of coffee!

Yeah, I worked very closely with Peerless. I like them a lot. I still go in there if I’m in town. I’ll just drop in and say hello. They’re a really good bunch of people.

AS: So there end up being a lot of visual effects meetings throughout the process?
DW: Yeah, I’m pretty sure actually that we must have gone through every sequence at least twice in those early stages. You know, sitting around a big conference table in Peerless just going though it scene number by scene number, storyboard by storyboard. That’s the only way to do it.

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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