Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Tip# 24: Visually interpreting the characters

By Sinéad Ferguson (Producer/Production designer)

As a production designer you must create a breakdown of the characters, in the spirit of the screenwriter who created them focusing on how the aspects are translated visually. What we wear, where we work and where we live is a reflection of who we are. Therefore we must apply our understanding of the characters to order to create their environments. Each location is an environment that reveals the lives of the characters and provides an environment that surrounds and embraces the characters as the story unfolds.

There is a direct relationship between the environment and the characters. Every space has its own nature and character. One of the primary locations in the film is the restaurant and this is the environment that reflects John and Kate personalities. The “Amble Inn” while traditional and old, obviously steeped in history, also possesses subtle modern and contemporary touches that reflect and project that a younger couple lives and works there and has had a hand in the decor. The warm, inviting and comfortable atmosphere of the restaurant is also a direct contrast to the Kitchen John’s workspace ,which is almost clinical by comparison. Stainless steel abounds and it is very much a functional space, everything has its use and its place, it’s ordered and practical. The kitchen like John has a cool exterior however once you get to know them, you find that beneath that cool exterior, they are both warm and creative.

Another point worth mentioning is that not every character lives in a contemporary time frame some remain in the styles of an earlier era. As seen in Chris’ grandmothers house, in particular the living room where the colour scheme, furniture, soft furnishings, ornaments and plentiful doilies are quite dated and are reflective of the tastes of an older generation. Chris’ bedroom is also a reflection of Chris’ confusion over who he is.The room itself suggests it has remained relatively unchanged since he first moved in with his Gran as a young boy after his parents passed. We see their picture beside his bed, we see drawings he did as a teenager and a keyboard.Yet in the mix there are hints of what he aspires to be,via movie posters, a camcorder and filmmaking books.

The colour palette of the film and production design, is inspired by the village and Mother Nature herself in the surrounding landscapes. Colours abound in the English countryside. You see everything from, rich autumnal colours, piercing sky blues,stormy grey clouds, green rolling hills to the muted earthy tones of rustic lanes.

But how can you keep the design costs down to a minimum? In my final post on production design I will tell you how we did it.

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