You discover that whether it’s outer space or scuba gear, you learn a new passion. And you can only do that by finding people who already have that passion who can help pass it on to you. In that way I’m a little vampiric.
AS: What would you say are the qualities required to be a production designer? Do you draw a lot?
CG: Here I have to plead the fifth and claim Jack Fisk back again. I draw badly. But I can also draw with words. I can draw with passion. I can sell anyone a used car if I have to. On this production there were those early storyboards done that had some detail. There was some concept art that we worked up for particular vehicles as well. But in general we wanted desperately to do it as though we were trying to build something that we only half-remembered. It was the idea of working your way out of that fog. It’s Charlton Heston on that beach looking up and seeing the Statue of Liberty. Fuck me, I’ve been here before! We wanted that. And I guess I was there to bring the fog. The lack of lucidity. And the passion.
AS: What would you say are the differences between working as Art Director and as Production Designer? I noticed you’ve done both.
CG: Even when I was working as a props guy I don’t think there was that much difference between the art department jobs. Obviously the responsibility comes back and stops with you and I like that. And I like being able to have the conversation at the top level with directors, with cinematographers. I like being able to share those ideas. Which is the only thing I miss. Otherwise I think it’s pretty much the same thing. I’m always aware of logistics. I’m always aware of parameters. I always try to find a smarter, cleverer way to get to somewhere. Personally I think they ought to all be the same job and have the same job description. You just get to have arguments with slightly different people.
AS: I heard you were working on a movie called The Great Wall?
CG: I was very fortunate to get parachuted into China to help with The Great Wall. One of the designers you’ve already interviewed, John Myhre, was working in China and they had yet to start on their exterior sets. And they were running out of time. I was lucky enough to be offered the gig. I’ve already been in -I had four months building exterior sets in China. Those have finished shooting and my work here as they say is done and I’m back in the unemployment line!
AS: What was it like to work with John Myhre?
CG: It was great. And John as I think you would have discovered from your interview is hugely enthusiastic, optimistic and a visionary chap. You can’t help but have a good time sharing that with someone else.
AS: I remember he said there’s nothing worse than hearing crew complaining on set- he knows we have the greatest job ever.
CG: You do have to wonder about some people. You get gaffers and they’re complaining about how