Rick Carter

On many of the things I’ve gotten to work on, it’s about digesting it and then coming back with an honest, direct, emotional response to what the script is and what the director wants to accomplish. I’m the first believer or one of the first believers. I’ll say, I can believe this, and then help to make this as believable for an audience as possible, so that the suspension of disbelief is not a negative idea, it’s an invitation to believe. And then I get something to believe in for the next however long I’m on that movie. It becomes like a dream that you’d want to help come true.

When it works out at the other end where you look at it and you really like it, that’s fantastic. And then if other people like it, even better. And then if it takes off into being something that lots of people like, it’s fantastic but it also becomes something that you have to let go of. Because everybody has it as their own version. That’s what we’ve seen of course with Star Wars. It’s no longer just the movie that the movie makers were making, even if it’s George Lucas. It’s no longer just the movie that the people who worked on it were designing. It’s in that space between where the audience is and where the movie is on screen. That’s this hybrid gap where cinema explodes and becomes something you all experiences as different.

Any script that you’re looking at could go to that place but first has to be broken down into many, many pragmatic jobs that people need to do. The job of production design is to see the alchemy that’s right in front of you and yet you still have to film something that can actually be accomplished, and in the time frame and in the budgets.

AS: You have to make it into something concrete…
RC: It’s only concrete at the end. And even then it’s not concrete. Even at the point when it’s a digital series of zeros and ones it only comes alive when it’s not concrete. You go out of yourself and you meet it half way. How concrete is that?

AS: It’s like you’re selling something that doesn’t physically exist. You’re transferring that dream to somebody.
RC: That’s right. And when you have that as a communal experience with a lot of people in the theater it’s fantastic. And even if you have it in a more individual experience on your iPhone or at home on a screen, it can take you to a place that doesn’t just take you out of your head and life, it puts you into your life on some other level. It invokes the dream state. That’s why I think that most of the production designers, certainly all the ones that you’ve interviewed and have on your site, they’re dreamers. But they want, as Richard Sylbert said, to have their dreams come true. And they’re result freaks. You know, they don’t just talk about it, they do it.

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