My career in the film industry began at Bryan Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Films Entertainment in New York City. After moving to the LA office and spending three years learning the physical production side of the business, I wanted the creative fulfillment of being a part of the crew to “really make” a movie. The Art Department was my goal. I worked on several projects from On-Set PA, to On-Set Dresser, to Art Dept. PA, to Accounting, Production Coordinating and Set Design. The first Art Directing job I had was on the HBO/FOX comedy series The Ben Stiller Show. I also worked with veteran Production Designer Jack T. Collis and Art Director/Production Designer Jack Senter on Ron Howard’s Far & Away and Walter Hill’s Geronimo. These two started their careers in the 1940’s at MGM under Cedric Gibbons; Collis eventually became head of Paramount Pictures Art Department and Senter headed up the Art Department at FOX Studios. Working with these two talented men was like graduate school for the Art Department in Film-making.
Art Directing jobs followed, with Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites and The Cable Guy Michael Lehman’s The Truth About Cats & Dogs; The Odd Couple 2; Ted Demme’s Life; Jim Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted; and Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. I was Art Director in Charge of Doc Oc on Sam Ramie’s Spiderman 2, working with a budget of $15 million and all aspects connected to the character, including designing and developing the mechanics of Doc Oc, coordinating the efforts of the Art, Costume, Visual Effects, Special Effects, and Puppeteer Departments and Steve Johnson’s EDGE /FX. I had set a goal to Art Direct enough that I could confidently deal with the creative responsibilities of being a Production Designer, from conceptualization to budgeting to creating quality scenery.
My career as Production Designer has included working on the stylized suburban feel of Francine McDougal’s Sugar & Spice showing the felonious exploits of a pregnant cheerleader; creating the gritty street life of Scenes of the Crime with Jeff Bridges on a $2 million budget; collaborating on Jordan Sussman’s independent film The Anarchists Cookbook shot in Dallas, TX; working on Shanghai Red, an independent feature film shot in Shanghai, China with an entirely Chinese crew; and bringing an eye from my experience in China to the tongue–in–cheek homage to Bruce Lee films, Balls of Fury, written/directed by Ben Garant and written/produced by Tom Lennon; then on Bandslam, written/directed by Todd Graff, which gave me the opportunity to recreate both the interior and exterior of the infamous New York City club CBGB; to a second film with Todd Graff, Joyful Noise, about a Gospel Choir competition. Work in television has included several pilots, including: Friday Night Lights / NBC; and Friends With Benefits / FOX; and Season One for Welcome to the Captain / CBS; and Nashville / ABC.
The dictionary defines “Designer” as: “1) one who plans; makes preliminary sketches of. 2) to form in the mind of; contrive. 3) one who works out by plans and design. v. 4) the art of making arrangements of parts, details, forms color, etc. so as to produce a complete and artistic unit.” This is never truer than in the film making process.
I define my role as a Production Designer as the creative facilitator who understands the Director’s vision of a film (it’s setting, character, and the look & feel of each page and character defined through the proper use of color, tone, texture, scenery and locations) and is able to conceptualize, create and realize this vision with the collaboration of the Art Department. I am a storyteller… working through the visual language of film making.