Eve Stewart

Eve Stewart

AS: Is that part of it usually just yourself or do you have a small crew?
ES: It’s usually just myself and the director. It’s gotten quite more like that because my research ability and my resources have gotten quite great. I get called in earlier so I can work with the director to kind of show them, especially with a period piece, exactly what the world would have been.

AS: How do you go about that research? Is it a lot of internet searches?
ES: That’s a big part of it but no I’m very good at using the library resources in London and I have an enormous library myself. And I’ll look at anything. I’ll talk to anyone.

AS: Do you prefer period pieces?
ES: I love them and if you love research like I do that’s a really big help. But I would love to do some science fiction, I just haven’t gotten it yet.

AS: How do you feel about production design being invisible or visible in films?
ES: If you’re invisible for the bulk of your time then you’ve done a really good job because it hasn’t stuck in somebody’s throat. If you’re invisible eighty percent of the time and twenty percent of the time people go Whoa because you’ve introduced them to a new world I feel that’s a good job.

AS: Do you feel a set can be a character in a movie?
ES: Definitely. It’s a massive illustration and it’s a history-teller. It’s a quicker story-teller than the script. Because people are so quick to assess the status, the history, the mood. They make a complete judgment on what they’re seeing about the person who is involved there. It’s an enormous resource.

AS: What do you think of the future of production design? More and more CG  and greenscreens?
ES: No, I think there’s a sort of backlash if anything. I find that people are asking for more and more in-camera. Of course the really big movies are going to stick to doing green but I find that there’s actually more being put in-camera and I think audiences get a bit tired of the kind of glossiness of non-realism of CG. I think they like a bit of realism where they can connect. Definitely there’s a backlash at the moment.

AS: Do you use a lot of painted backdrops?
ES: I love painted backdrops, yes. I use anything of the old craft. I think people love to see craft that other human beings have made with their own hands. It’s something primal. People understand when another human being’s telling a story visually. However they do it. With painted backdrops, sculpture, what they’re wearing. If something’s too perfect it feels cold, non-engaging.

AS: Have you ever worked on more than one project at a time?
ES: No. They sometimes overlap at the very end. But I like to try to give it my all. And I think a massive part of my job is to support the director all the way through it. You have to dedicate yourself.

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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