David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

SRW: That kind of sketching is really helpful and that’s just a pencil on a napkin. If you’re in a car with a director and then you think, We can’t find this theater for Inglorious Basterds so let’s do it this way. You draw a little sketch and it’s like, Okay lets’ put it on the backlot.

AS: Do you both sketch?
DW: We both do. Sandy’s a better sketch artist than I am. A lot of the concept illustrations that are done for the movies I hire a concept illustrator only because it’s a time-consuming thing. A full-time thing. It’s not something that you do in an hour. You hire somebody and they’re on it for days. Sometimes the doodle on a napkin is what jump-starts it.

AS: Talking about the previs and all the post CGI that comes later, do you see film moving away from the traditional craftsperson thing?
DW: The benefit of working on a movie versus a commercial is that you have the time to really think about something but that time is going away. One of the reasons is there are all these things that are contributing to making everything go faster and faster. SketchUp and all this stuff is not going to overshadow someone who is a really good lead sketch artist like my friend Carl Sprague who is also a brilliant production designer.

Being able to go into a 3D model and move through it on a computer screen is great but I still like even a rudimentary foamcore model. Like when we did the theater auditorium in Inglorious Basterds we build a massive model that was big enough for Quentin to stick his head in and actually look around from where the seats are. I don’t know if the computer thing is going to overtake that. Even the iPad, which I use a lot, and is a great, helpful tool, has its limitations. When I’m out in the field I whip out the iPad but it sometimes doesn’t work because there’s too much glare outside so I’ll take these 11×17 Itoya folders with color Xeroxes of location pictures that are in plastic sleeves so that if it’s raining out you can still open this book and it works perfect. You get your answers and you can actually sketch on those things.

SRW: There’s so much more video content out there and it’s used in so many more ways. It’s not just film and television anymore -it’s on your gas pump, its on your phone, it’s everywhere. As the written word gets less and less I think there will be room for everything.  Both simple and highly technical modes of filmmaking can exist together and are equally useful because they express things so differently. Primitive methods will always be interesting to some directors like Michel Gondry and his audiences who love the magical look of Méliès.

DW: Or Wes Anderson. Wes does not like CGI stuff and that’s part of his success. It still comes down to a good script and good actors and someone like Quentin who’s great with actors and you’re going to end up with a masterpiece, something you’ll want to watch in 50 years.

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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