production designers as an assistant. Some years later I met the production designer Brigitte Broch and she became my mentor. I learned a lot about the craft from her, working with her for several years. I did a lot of things in her team -I was her set decorator, her art director on some films, I did props. She did Babel and the Reader, and we worked together on Romeo + Juliette, Baz Luhrman’s film that was shot here in Mexico back in 1994.
I started very young. I was always learning on the set and I tried to complete my education with a lot of reading and watching films. I have always loved film and literature and music and I think all of those things contribute when you’re designing a film.
AS: How was working with Jim Jarmusch different from these other directors?
EC: It was a fantastic experience. We have stayed very close friends. It was an experiment for everybody. We started preproduction with just thirty-five pages of a script. It was just ideas. And what’s in the film later was informed by what we discovered in the preproduction phase, while we were looking for locations. There was a lot of liberty in a conceptual way. And Jim explored this with a lot of guts. It’s not an easy thing to do. He wanted to do a film with that high level of risk. Being a part of that for me was a great experience that really opened my mind. And I still use that as another approach during preproduction when I design more normal films.
AS: It wasn’t frustrating not to have everything set at the beginning?
EC: I started out thinking that way but then somehow because I was witnessing how he was doing it, my point of view changed. But there were definitely a lot of times when the pressure came on really, really strong and then you had to juggle your elements. It was a big learning experience for me.
AS: When you did prep for Resident Evil: Extinction did you play the video game a lot? Do you watch a lot of movies for reference?
EC: I think that the film Resident Evil: Extinction had a different visual feeling from the rest of the saga visually because I did not play the game very much. We had an expert on the game in Paul Anderson. He produced and also directed a small part of the film. For me it was a film about destruction. You know, a post-apocalyptic film. I viewed a lot of real war reverences, of a lot of abandoned places, a lot of earthquakes’ aftermath.
And then obviously I had to see the films that came before and had to follow certain rules. So I knew those basic rules and I saw those films. Especially in order to understand the world of the Umbrella Corporation.