David Warren

David Warren

AS: Do you plan on doing more jobs as production designer or as an art director?
DW: I’m art directing this film for Dante but I thought to myself, Well, Dante’s a very, very good designer and Martin Scorcese’s a very, very good director. Martin’s probably never going to use another designer again apart from Dante. So I thought that this was actually a good thing to do. Dante said to me, You should be designing. Please do my movie but after that I never want to see you again! It’s been written on the wall for me now. I’m going to do this film and then I’m going to see what happens afterwards.

AS: Has the Oscar® nomination changed your life in any way or is it pretty much the same?
DW: It was really weird because everybody on this movie knew I was going to the nominations. That always has an effect on what happens in meetings because people are making jokes about it. Well, because of your Oscar nomination I suppose we have to do that. Great, thanks a lot guys!

I just had an email from someone this morning saying, Can we check on your availability? We’re looking for a production designer. I said, Well I’m here with Dante so I’m pretty fucked! I’ll just have to see what happens really.

AS: So the future belongs to be the people who are going to be able to combine the visual effects with the practical?
DW: I think so. Although we should never get away from the fact that there are films being made every year that are normal films. That aren’t great visual effects extravaganzas. Out of the movies that were nominated this year the one that Patrice did, Young Victoria, probably had like 10 visual effects shots in it -matte paintings and a little bit of augmentation. That was a film all shot on location. Avatar has 2,000 visual effects shots yet both films were still nominated. So it’s interesting that it’s still just about taste and what looks good to the eye.

What Robert Stromberg did on Avatar is symbolic of the way that film design may go in the future. This bridge between visual effects and the art department is a very strong thing. Doug Chiang was the production designer on Beowulf and he was the design director for the first two Star Wars movies. But then Gabriella Pescucci did costume design for Beowulf and she’s a real old hat. You have a very young, modern team designing the sets -these were guys that bridged with visual effects- but then for costume they brought in somebody who worked on movies in Italy. It’s about how costumes flow, how stuff is cut, and how stuff holds onto the body.

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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