David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

DW: Both Wes and Quentin would have us look at movies- I remember Wes showed us a few Fellini movies that were more for tone and feeling and there were a few things that he specifically showed us in his New York City apartment. Whereas Quentin really directed us to lift certain elements. Like for instance he had us look at Elvis Presley’s Speedway when we were doing the Jack Rabbit Slims set. Speedway had a nightclub scene in it where racecar drivers were hanging out in this club and they were dining in cars that were cut in half and they had banquet tables in them. We lifted that idea. Then in Howard Hawk’s movie Red Line 7000 they had this other nighclub set where racecar drivers hang out that had a slotcar track in the bar. So we lifted that and put that in Jack Rabbit Slims. Pulp Fiction was modestly budgeted but we spent a good deal of our budget on this pretty big set. It struck a note with the audience. People would come to LA asking to visit this restaurant. Disney, who had released the film, contacted us and asked us if we would help them build that club in Disney World. However, it ended up not happening for whatever reason.

We gave a mid-century spin to this racecar-themed nightclub because we had recently been asked to contribute to a museum exhibit in downtown LA called The Legacy of The Case Study House. For the exhibit we build three full-sized recreations of the Case Study houses and then we decorated them to the vintage period that the houses were built. We built the Pierre Koenig house full-sized, the Eames frame house full-sized, and the Ralph Rapson house full-sized. We had just finished this between movies so we had this kind of modernistic theme going through both of our heads. We thought, Let’s weave this into the style of the Jack Rabbit Slims thing. We actually even chose as an exterior a closed bowling alley that was designed by Armet & Davis. They were the Googie-style designers who did all the very famous 30’s and 40’s roadside diners. It had this kind of lunar, modern, zig-zaggy roof. John Travolta pulls in with Uma Thurman and they park and walk up to it. Not only did we have this mid-century Googie look going on inside but we were able to marry it with this exterior and it really struck a note with the audience.

AS: One thing I sometimes ask is can a set become a character in a film and it feels like that one did.
DW: I think that one did. And maybe the house in Tenenbaums. I think any set that you’re in for a long period of time can become a character. Traditionally the rule of thumb is we really are trying to do something that’s going to support what the actors are doing and help the director tell a story. Plain and simple. Quentin specifically requested this to be over-the–top and when that’s a director’s request it’s your opportunity to do something interesting.

Something happened in the middle of shooting that knocked two days off of shooting in that set. The cameraman Andrzej had a very bad car accident. He was almost killed. He ended up coming back to the set and we ended up finishing the movie but there were all of these plans to shoot top shots above the dance floor that would show that the dance floor they’re dancing on was a working tachometer and none of that was done. So it would have even been more of a character in the movie if they were able to capture more of that. But we were lucky that Andrzej was okay.

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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