David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
It never ceases to amaze me how little the art departments were in the early days. It would be a three person art department on these masterpiece movies. I did a couple of them – on El Norte, I was a one-person art department. There’s always the emphasis now to try to have as few people in the art department as possible for money reasons but because producers are now minimizing the prep we have to have so much pulled off in such a short time.
SRW: They minimize the prep but then they add all these other things like the previs, that add more money and work.
DW: But even with all of the newer tools of technology it’s still this old-fashioned craft that is not that much different than when it started.
AS: Do you ever have a hard time finding good material?
DW: We really struggle to find and interview only on things that my heart can get into or that Sandy believes can be really good. Like when we read Reservoir Dogs we were like, This is really different and really unique. But there’s no rhyme or reason. You can have a masterpiece script, you can have a great cast, and it just may not be a great movie. Or you can have something that is just kind of clunky and it will just strike a note with people. It’s what’s going on in the world at the time. It’s a very funny business. It’s a huge gamble. So you appreciate when producers are trying to be frugal with stuff because you don’t know if it’s going to be this $200 million dollar clunker that’s not going to perform. But we still just try to do these stories that are unique and interesting that we think will be of interest to the public. I try to not do remakes or sequels.
AS: How did you both very first get into the business? Did you go to art school?
DW: Sandy is formally trained, I am not. Sandy is a Vassar art history major and I am informally trained. I have two immensely talented artistic parents. My dad went to Cooper Union. He brought me and my two brothers up to be artists. I actually tried to get into Cooper Union and I didn’t get in. My intention was to try again the following year and follow in his footsteps. And I actually ended up getting a few paying jobs in New York City working with graphic design firms fresh out of high school and I was like, Well this is what I wanted to go to college for and I’m actually getting paid to do it. I’ll just delay it another year. So I just ended up never getting to that other level. My dad said, What do you need that for? You just draw every day. If you do one drawing every day that’s all you need to do. Keep doing it.
We were living in Bennington, Vermont which has a great liberal arts college. My dad was one of the art teachers at the high school there in Bennington and they did a lot of things in concert with Bennington College. He was the set design teacher at the high school and also the art teacher. In the late sixties it was this free-form world between the two schools. I don’t have a diploma from Bennington College but I basically went to Bennington college.