Rick Heinrichs

Rick Heinrichs

Leavesden and they have this wonderful tax break for the studios. However it’s not my home. It’s just a shame that we don’t have the same thing happening here. It probably would be considered corporate welfare here in California.

It’s a different world than the one I was coming up in. Much more international. We’re being asked not simply to design a film but literally being asked to design a production. A production footprint. You’ve got to solve all of these problems that are very economic-based problems. In the go-go eighties and nineties you didn’t have to think as heavily about that.

AS: When you’re travelling to these various places are you able to bring people or do you have to hire a new crew in every place?
RH: I would always try to bring my supervising art director with me. For instance on Captain America we were starting here on Manhattan Beach. It was to be done here in the studio. The more we got into it the more we asked, How do you do London in LA? Where do you find 1940’s army barrack-looking places? And the more important thing these days is where do you get the tax break? It can get you an extra $20 million worth of production value on the screen. Within the first couple of months we were looking all over the world. We were looking in Budapest, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy, London, Montreal, and we briefly though of New York. All these are places that offer tax incentives. We finally ended up in London. And I did insist on bringing John with me. I did the same thing with John on Sleepy Hollow ten years earlier. Typically I don’t get to bring anybody else.

AS: Any advice for people just starting out in the business?
RH: You need to set yourself apart from everyone else. It comes from what you were interested in as a kid or what you were interested in as a young adult. The travels that you did in life. The things that made you curious growing up. You want to be considered a professional who can do the job but at the same time all of these things help distinguish you as a designer.

I would also tell anyone to learn SketchUp because it’s such a great, easy program. If they feel that they are going to be a set designer and draftsman they should probably get into Rhino. But for an art director or even a production designer it’s good to be able to really study the scale of things in three dimensions.

AS: What you like most about production design?
RH: This is where my explorations into the greenscreen are going to leave me dry. I like walking onto a set I built that was living in my mind for a really long time. In particular something with forced perspective and some theatrical elements to it. I like to just sit there and enjoy the environment. Like in the back portion of the Van Tassel estate in Sleepy Hollow. It was this back porch where you look down on a driveway to the stage at Leavesden. We only had 30 feet but we had a coach and horses and we had this apple orchard where we had shrunk all these trees in the background for forced perspective. And we had this mountainscape that we’d sculpted so it took light. And a small windmill and painted skies. And some of the stars, Michael Gambon and Ian McDiarmid would sit back there smoking cigarettes and relaxing like they were enjoying the afternoon out on the back porch. The level of deep satisfaction that I got out of that has been with me ever since.

Save

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

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