And then for me I just get as many visual references as I can. When we came back from Russia we had to buy another suitcase. It was way overweight: forty-two kilos of books I bought in Russia. I can’t read any of it because it’s all in Russian -they’re all visual, pictorial, photographic. So then you go through that and then you start trying to figure it out.
You know at the moment I’m trying to figure out how we can make the UK look like Russia in the snow, which is incredibly difficult.
AS: Are you doing fake snow?
SG: We will be I would imagine. The thing is we did a lot of fake snow on Hanna which was a disaster. Not that it was anybody’s fault, it’s just that fake snow is not as good as real snow. And that’s one of the reasons we ended up having to go to Finland on Hanna. The snow in Russia is just so exceptional. When we were in St. Petersberg it was packed up ten foot high with more snow on top. And so beautiful and the light is so different. So we will be doing the majority of the snow scenes in Russia.
AS: Do you anticipate bringing your crew to Russia or hiring a local Russian crew?
SG: We’ll try not to build too much out there but we will be taking core crew out without a doubt. I’ve heard it’s very corrupt and really expensive. It’s more expensive than London, the hotels and everything.
AS: Say someone’s starting out in business -any advice to avoid pitfalls?
SG: You just have to be really persistent. Particularly when I’m just starting this project and everyone gets a sniff of it and I have twenty emails a day, or phone calls or texts. Somebody might have texted me three months ago and I go, I’m not doing anything. You need to be at the right time, at the right moment.
And just be open-minded and interested. If you want to be an art director and you’re starting as an art director assistant then be interested in what set decs are doing, be interested in construction, be interested in the whole process. Get out onto the floor. See how films are made. It’s such an amazing business. Again, why do it if you’re not interested?
AS: What attracts you first about a project, what would make one more interesting than another?
SG: There are a lot of considerations. There’s the practical consideration- I do like to be based out of London. I don’t mind filming abroad but I don’t want to be based abroad again. I’ve done enough, I want to be home with my family and friends. So that counts quite a lot at the moment. Although never say never! And then obviously, the director and the script. I do like doing contemporary. I know I do a lot of period but I do like doing contemporary sometimes. And I quite like to do different genres. I’d love to do a Western, like True Grit, which was just amazing, I’d love to have done that. You know, There Will Be Blood –fantastic. The Coen Brothers are brilliant. I’d love to work with them. But you know Jess Gonchor’s got that tied up! He’s great and I think his work is fantastic.