Guy Hendrix Dyas

Guy Hendrix Dyas

AS: You’ve told this many times before but what was it like creating those Penrose stairs?
GHD:The Penrose staircase is based on an optical illusion made famous by some of Escher’s drawings. It’s an ever ascending staircase which can never be built or made functional in the real world which is why it was so much fun to create as a set. However, perfecting it took a lot of research and development and we used traditional models as well as computer models to determine its exact dimensions as well as the camera positions needed to pull off the illusion. We ended up building our Penrose staircase set in the UK inside the atrium of an empty office building, the actors walked up the staircase to its highest point and the final shot was created thanks to clever camera work.

AS: What was it like working with Christopher Nolan? Is he a visual director?
GHD:Chris ordinarily works with the same crew but as his production designer was unavailable Chris sought out a new designer for Inception and I was lucky to be chosen for the job. I’ve been a fan of Chris’ since Memento and there’s no question that he’s an extremely visual director, actually all good story tellers are visual people. One of the most exciting aspects of working with Chris on this film in particular is that he has a genuine interest in architecture and film design and he’s said that he would’ve liked to have been an architect had he not become a film maker.

AS: I hear you’re working on Steven Spielberg’s latest- what type of project is it?
GHD:It’s a science fiction film, a very ambitious project based on an upcoming novel by Daniel H. Wilson, a talented young writer who also has a Ph. D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. It’s great source material and everyone is very excited about adapting it for the big screen.

AS: Kim Sinclair worked with Spielberg on Tintin and said his interaction was mainly virtual with weekly poly-conferences- was that also your experience?
GHD: I live in Los Angeles so I’m usually in direct contact with him as I run my art department from his offices. However as one of the busiest people in Hollywood I know he uses the system a lot.

AS: You also worked with Spielberg on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. You designed many elaborate sets- were there many challenges?
GHD: I think one of the challenges was to design a film that fit in stylistically with the others while also showing the passing of time as our story takes place in the late 50s. Like many I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and beyond the fact that I was really looking forward to working with Steven Spielberg for the first time there was the added excitement of being a part of the Indiana Jones adventure. It’s definitely an experience that brings out the kid in you and it was fun to express that through our designs.

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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: