Guy Hendrix Dyas
AS: What are qualities that you think a production designer should have?
GHD: What I love about our job is that designers can rely on a variety of skills, there really is no one set of qualities that will either ensure you success or failure. If I speak for myself I tend to get excited by projects that are artistically challenging in some way or another. I’ve realized that for those films you’re often asked to create an entire world so it’s good to have a strong vision, a good working ethic, good leadership skills as well as enthusiasm. I don’t think people always realize how physical our jobs are, when we’re preparing for a shoot there’s rarely time to breathe, you have to enjoy that kind of pace.
AS: When you’re crewing up, what are certain attributes that you look for in art department?
GHD: As someone who’s come up through the ranks of the art department I have the utmost respect and admiration for my collaborators. I enjoy being able to assemble an art department with a wide range of talents and experiences as it helps develop a genuine appreciation for each other’s work and contributions.
AS: Do you feel a set can be like a character in a movie?
GHD: If the story allows for it absolutely, I think this is something that’s dictated by the script. While some sets are meant to be more inconspicuous every once in a while the opportunity arises to be a bit more experimental and exuberant and let a set become its own character, one which demands its own attention. Our work is about treading that fine line between invisible and visible production design and knowing what’s best for the story. It should be invisible unless the story calls for more ostentatious visuals, this is what differentiates production designers from other designers. Personally I love both expressions of what we do, the invisible work as well as the more stylized and mannered aspect of production design.
AS: Do you have any books or other resources that stand out as useful for a production designer?
GHD: I’m a collector at heart and I like surrounding myself with things that spark my imagination but I also think that inspiration can come from just about anywhere, books, music, museums, travel, nature. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s important to step away from the drawing board once in a while too because we’re more productive and imaginative when we’ve had the chance to resource ourselves.
AS: Say someone was just starting out and wanted to avoid any pitfalls…
GHD: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. As everyone knows there are no rules or guidelines in our business, it’s what makes it so exciting but also daunting at times. So much is based on luck and being in the right place at the right time but for those who persevere there are some great rewards.