David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

AS: What qualities or characteristics do you look for when finding your crews?
DW: I almost never do one movie and then the next week start another movie. I struggle to find really good, script-driven projects that often are written by the guy or girl that’s gonna direct the movie. Almost everything I’ve done, the director wrote the project. That sometimes means there are long strings of time in between projects so it’s hard for me to have a core team of people that I like to work with that are standing by ready to start something.

AS: Because they jump on something else…
DW: They may not be as concerned about the material as I am. I don’t have these crews that I can carry from show to show so the time in between movies I usually spend routinely meeting people, once or twice a week. People contact me via email, they’ll call me, they’ll write me a letter. I get letters from all over the world and I try to just meet all these people. I try to hire people that have strengths that balance out my weaknesses. I am not a tech-savvy guy so I will hire people that are good at doing CAD or computer assisted drafting. However, I’ll still have lead set designers working side-by-side with CAD people.

I first try to hire some people I’ve worked with before and if they’re not available it’s a mix of some people that have worked with me and some new people. I get people that are really enthusiastic and that want to really be an art director or production designer and see how the art department works. The immensely talented production designer Andrew Laws started as one of my art department assistants, then he worked as an assistant art director and then he worked as an art director and now he’s production designing.

AS: Do you often have to crew up in distant locations?
SRW: When we started in the late 80’s with American Playhouse we’d go out of town a lot and the entire crew was local to the film location. We’d be in Minnesota doing a movie about Scandinavian Lutherans and then in Montana doing a farm story. And then in Virginia doing a Civil War story. In all those places we took an art director but crewed up locally. In many ways, It’s a wonderful way to weave local flavor into a film because they have a built-in knowledge of the culture, the people, the local auction house, the Masonic lodge with tables and chairs to rent…They’ve got resources and they know where things are and that’s all really helpful.

DW: We continue to work with some of the people we’ve met in these places. In Virginia on James Purdy’s In A Shallow Grave we worked with Brett Smith fresh out of high school. He is now one of the best leadmen in the business. We gave him his first job and then he decided he wanted to move to Hollywood. He’s worked with us multiple times. Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill. In Germany we worked for almost a year on Inglorious Basterds and also met some wonderful people.

SRW: That was a great pool of talent.

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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