Eve Stewart

Eve Stewart

AS: I remember you saying that you had read the full novel but not everyone in the crew had.
ES: Yes, I think it was only myself and Tom! It’s got 1406 pages of really tiny writing!

AS: Were you involved in the visual effects a lot?
ES: Yeah, we were involved in the visual effects a lot primarily because we had done all the research on all the buildings that would have been around that street in Paris. We made quite a lot of big 3D models of the buildings that they could photograph and use within their composites.

AS: Was that part of your pre-vis?
ES: It was my version of a pre-vis. [Producer] Cameron Mackintosh works in theater all the time. They’re very used to seeing a big model of what the scenery would be. I made this giant, accurate model where the buildings were very realistic, and each about two foot high and all painted and colored like doll’s houses so everybody was very clear about what they would get.

AS: A lot of production designers I talk to just do 3D models on computers. But there’s something kind of magical about a physical model that people can look at.
ES: Yes, I agree, I think there is something magical. They’re both very useful tools but I don’t think you can completely just work with computer generated images because they never show the texture or the soul of the thing.

CG is very useful. It’s a quick way of working. But in the end it’s all about human beings and how they interact with the surfaces.

AS: With the sets in Les Misérables did you have to change a lot to accommodate the choreography as soon as they started singing and dancing?
ES: Only a little bit in the scene with all the prostitutes. When Tom saw the set he loved all the bits along the high walls so he began to want the ladies writhing around on them. We had to make a lot of them a lot stronger to take their weight.

AS: You were saying how the actors really experienced winter on set.
ES: Yeah, we were filming in the winter and it was really cold and I think they really began to experience the misery of life on the outside even though they were on a stage. There was no heating.

AS: How is Tom Hooper different from director Mike Leigh? Is Mike Leigh visual?
ES: They are both incredibly thorough about the understanding of the character and the time and place that they inhabit and nothing is taken for granted. With neither director would I ever get away with putting something on the set just because it looked nice. It has to be there for a reason.

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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