David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Another friend from Design Research, who’s now working as a rerecording mixer, Matthew Iadarola, said, Hey, this commercial art director is starting up a feature film and he’s looking for an assistant. Do you want to meet him? And I was like, Sure, I’d love to meet him. Because it was 1980 and not only was it the bad time for Zoetrope, but there was this massive directors/writers strike. So there was nothing going on in LA. It was just dead so here is this little independent movie that was like Conan the Barbarian and it was called Beastmaster and I met with the production designer and he wanted to hire me.

It was just kind of being in the right place at the right time, doing things that I learned doing in my previous job. And they were very happy with everything I was doing and the movie was a huge hit! I am just extremely lucky that everything I got onto became a huge, popular thing.

I had this carrot dangled with Apocalypse and when I saw the movie I was like, Now, why didn’t I do that? But when you hear the real story it was really, really hard. The movie was shut down multiple times, they had a hurricane that destroyed the sets, everyone was doing drugs. Would I even be alive after that? Would I be doing drugs? I would probably have not have married Sandy who’s probably the best thing in my life.

SRW: I would not have gone into the business unless I tagged along with David. Now there are film schools but back then there were very few of them. Everyone took very circuitous paths to get here to do what they’re doing. I lived in a rural, creative area, Concord Massachusetts. Lots of good history and literature, ponds and forests. I built a lot of forts and tree-houses.

DW: But you did set design.

SRW: Yes, for school theater all the way up from kids’ Christmas pageants to Vassar where I took a couple years of theater design. Only in my senior year did they finally introduce film history. My Dad always accused me of being a dilettante, which was mortifying! But I studied fine art, drafting, and photography, archaeology, psychology and they’ve all been useful! It’s just lucky I followed David though. I might never have found the key to putting them all together in such a happy way. I could have channeled it into curatorial work or art conservation but I’m thinking film is way less monotonous.

DW: What Sandy did that I didn’t do was when Sandy moved to LA she continued taking classes in perspective drawing, set design.

SRW: In your early movies you’re doing everything. You’re wearing every hat. I’d say, If I’d known how to faux-finish that would have been better. So I’d go take a class.

DW: Sandy’s a very good perspective illustrator. The design of Jack Rabbit Slims started with a thumbnail that Sandy did.

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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: tom@artstars.us