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Blade Runner 2049 (1)

Production Warner Bros.
PD Dennis Gassner

In 1982, when the original “Blade

Runner” was released, I wasn’t
working in the film industry. But I
found myself transfixed by its fu-
turistic world, and that film be-
came one of the main reasons I
pursued a career as a production
designer. Cut to 2017 and “Blade
Runner 2049.” Thirty-five years
later I find myself transfixed, yet
again, but this time the look is in
the extremely capable hands of
Oscar winner Gassner. The re-
spect and care Gassner showed
for this film is evident in every
frame. This new world is one of
brutal architecture amidst a vi-
sion of decay, harking back to
the original but with a new take
on its featured cities of Los An-
geles, Las Vegas and San Diego.
It’s not easy for a sequel to main-
tain the aesthetic of the original.
But in the case of “Blade Run-
ner 2049,” Gassner has created a
stand-alone masterpiece of de-
sign. It is a delight for the senses.

Written by Denny Dugally,

production designer on
“Gilmore Girls: A Year in the
Life” and “Agent X.”


Downsizing (2)
Production Paramount
PD Stefania Cella

I made it a point to see “Down-

sizing” in the theater. I was cu-
rious to see how a film about
small people would work on
the big screen. Mainly, I want-
ed to see how production de-
signer Stefania Cella would play
with a core organizing princi-
ple for all designers: scale. Scale
and proportion, when utilized in-
correctly, can immediately dis-
rupt the viewer’s relationship
with the world being present-
ed, thus making that world lose
authenticity. In this case, both
worlds, big and small, exist in a

contemporary, modern frame-

work still recognizable to an au-
dience. Because the “downsized”
world is not some sci-fi world
of the future, Cella had to use
JANUARY 24, 2018

scale adeptly to make the down-

sized characters feel truly small
compared to “normal” surround-
ings. From the large scale models
What: ADG Awards
that had to be built, to the forced When: Jan. 27
point perspective that she had to Where: Ray Dolby Ballroom,
be aware of throughout the sto- Hollywood
68 ry, Cella has done a masterful job Web:
in supporting the story through with the design at hand, but its
her design. composition inspires a direction
not originally thought of. For its
Written by James Pearse second season, the story entered
Connelly, production designer the new cultural landscape of the
on “Bill Nye Saves the World” 1960s. Childs sought to express
and “The Voice.” the dichotomy of the formality
and symmetry of earlier design
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM versus disposable modern
Coco (3) conveniences of the ’60s. As a
subtle color palette can leave the
Production Disney/Pixar
audience bewildered as to where
PD Harley Jessup they are, Childs’ use of rich red,
Animation for too long has been when Princess Margaret first
relegated to the kids’ table of meets Tony, or a jealous green
most awards programs. In par- for the MacMillans, supports the
ticular, our voting communities
have not encouraged its consid-
eration for the best picture, pro-
story without being overly broad.

Written by Dawn Snyder, pro- AWARDS CATEGORY

duction design and screenwrit- duction designer on “Imaginary
ing categories so that it might Mary” and “Rush Hour.”
transcend its origins as the car-
toon before the feature. But this ONE-HOUR CONTEMPORARY
year, by recognizing produc- SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES Art Directors Guild celebrates 100 years
of animation with new trophy: Excellence
tion design in animation as be-
ing equal to all other genres that The Handmaid’s Tale (5) in Production Design in Animation
it celebrates, the Art Directors Episodes “Pilot, Offred,” “Birth Day,”
“Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum”
Guild has taken its first step. No By NELSON COATES
PD Julie Berghoff
work of animation has ever been

W hat makes film,

successful without the contri- I had to brace myself to watch Holy Recognition at Last!
butions of a superior screen- “The Handmaid’s Tale,” de- television, cable, “The Lego Batman Movie” is one
of five films nominated in ADG’s
play, performances and realiza- signed by Berghoff. In today’s commercial or new animation category.
tion. “Coco” is blessed with all of world, it promised to be more internet projects unique
these, so it is most fitting that it prescient than fictional. From is the visual styles and
is among the five excellent final- the first frame, Berghoff’s dysto- choices that propel their
ists that the ADG is honoring at pian design was a sucker punch, narratives forward. As cated, as the bar continues
its program. “Coco’s” award-win- hooking me instantly. Gilead, great design is created to be raised in animated
ning production designer Harley the fictional world of the “Hand- across these varied deliv- narrative design, and as
Jessup is a veteran of “Ratatouil- maid,” does not readily betray ery platforms, each sto- the number of animated
le,” “Monster’s Inc.” and “Cars 2.” time and place. The architec- rytelling opportunity features released each
For “Coco,” he and his immense- ture is traditional; the design requires unique tools and year — not to mention
ly talented colleagues at Pixar speaks of power and wealth but skills. But whether applied the growth of animated
have taken us to a very magical is not beautiful. It is grimy and to contemporary, period, content on television and
place — one blessed with great dark. There is a claustropho- fantasy, science fiction, live streaming services — con-
achievement and artistry, rich bic feeling that Berghoff creates action or animation, the tinues to rise, so has the
in emotion, textures, colors and by the omnipresence of mili- requirements for excellent involvement of produc-
imagination. The depth, com- tary fortifications. The de-satu- visuals remain the same: tion designers grown in
plexity and details in the origi- rated palette enhances a sense strong concepts and exe- creating and guiding envi-
nal tale, which honors and cele- of dread. Private homes are lush cution of sets, props, cos- ronments and overall
brates family, love, aspiration and but gloomy. Public institutions tumes, hair, makeup, char- concepts.
legacy, are masterful. in contrast are stark and blin- acter study and backstory, That’s why the Art
dingly white. When you do see color palette, visual and Directors Guild felt the
Written by Tom Walsh, produc- vivid color, like the deep red of physical effects — among need to recognize this
tion designer on “Longmire” the costumes and the orang- other design aspects. high standard of achieve-
and “The Client List.” es in the bland supermarket, it For the 22nd Art Direc- ment with its own award
augments the narrative. Ber- tors Guild Awards for category. We continue to
ONE-HOUR SINGLE-CAMERA ghoff imbues these moments Excellence in Production seek out and encourage
PERIOD OR FANTASY SERIES with great beauty, which height- Design, the guild is creat- excellence in all aspects
ens the horror and sadness of ing a new award category of visual storytelling and
The Crown (4) the story. recognizing a long-estab- are thrilled to add this cat-

Episodes “A Company of Men,” lished design medium: fea- egory to this and future
“Beryl,” “Dear Mrs. Kennedy”
Written by Cat Smith, produc- ture animation. years of ADG awards cele-
PD Martin Childs tion designer on “Transparent” Since the beginning of brations.
Imagine being challenged to and “I Love Dick.” cinema, concepts and sto-
design over 300 new sets, all ries have delighted and The writer is president of the
JANUARY 24, 2018

of them period, for a long-form TELEVISION MOVIE amazed audiences through Art Directors Guild. His credits
TV series. This is the task that the creations of visionary include “Secret in Their Eyes,”
Childs has performed exquisitely
for season two of “The Crown.”
Black Mirror (6) animators and designers.
As narrative animation
“Fifty Shades Darker,” “Fifty
Shades Freed” and the upcom-
Episode “USS Callister”
For such design undertakings, has become more sophisti- ing “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Childs relies on his vast research PD Joel Collins & Phil Sims

library, often selecting an image Collins and Sims masterfully ren-

that seemingly has no correlation der two disparate worlds in → 69

BEST OF THE BEST: THE ← this episode of “Black Mirror”

that is equal parts futuristic tech
horror and retro space spoof. In


the virtual world, we board the
USS Callister, a candy-colored
starship programmed by Rob-
ONE-HOUR MULTI-CAMERA SERIES ert Daly to be a facsimile from


American Gods (“The Bone
Orchard,” “The Secret of
9JKL (“Pilot,” “Lovers Get-
away,” “Set Visit”)
• Stephan Olson
The Big Bang Theory
his beloved series “Star Fleet,” a
stand-in for “Star Trek.” The de-
sign team cleverly pays hom-

V ariety staffers picked from a veritable cornuco-

pia of outstanding production design and art
direction when they singled out 11 shows for
evaluation by ADG members. Editors involved in the
selection: Andrew Barker, Debra Birnbaum, Peter Cara-
Spoons,” “Head Full of Snow”)
• Patti Podesta
The Handmaid’s Tale (“Pilot,
Offred,” “Birth Day,” “Nolite Te
Bastardes Carborundorum”)
(“The Romance Recalibration,”
“The Separation Agitation,”
“The Explosion Implosion”)
• John Shaffner
The Ranch (“My Best Friend,”
age to the classic sci-fi Westerns
while heightening anachronis-
tic elements to deconstruct the
genre’s sexist trappings. Back in
Daly’s “real” world, the Callister
• Julie Berghoff “Last Dollar (Fly Away),”
nicas, Peter Debruge, Steven Gaydos, Owen Gleiberman, The Handmaid’s Tale “Wrapped Up in You”) headquarters and his apartment
Tim Gray, Cynthia Littleton, Guy Lodge, Joseph Otter- (“The Bridge”) • John Shaffner pale in comparison, literally, with
• Andrew Stearn Superior Donuts
son, Jenelle Riley, Sonia Saraiya, Malina Saval, Kristo- Mr. Robot (“eps3.0_pow-
muted tones and harsh fluores-
(“Pilot,” “Crime Time,”
pher Tapley and Danielle Turchiano. Here’s the full list er-saver-mode.h,” “eps3.1_ “Arthur’s Day Off”
cents. No wonder he retreats into
of content vying for ADG honors this year. undo.gz,” “”) • Stephan Olson the fantastical past where he can
• Anastasia White Will & Grace play God, turning this fanboys
Twin Peaks (“Ep. 1: Part 1,” (“Eleven Years Later,” playground into something more
EXCELLENCE IN Three Billboards Outside
PRODUCTION DESIGN “Ep. 8: Part 8,” “Ep. 15: Part 15”) “A Gay Olde Christmas”)
Ebbing, Missouri of an existential nightmare for
FOR A FEATURE FILM • Ruth De Jong • Glenda Rovello
• Inbal Weinberg its unwilling inhabitants. When
time’s up for Daly, the ship re-
boots to a sleeker unisex design,
complete with lens flares. The fu-
ture looks bright, indeed.

Written by Raf Lydon,

Darkest Hour Cars 3 OR LIMITED SERIES WEB SERIES, MUSIC VIDEO Metal Jousting” and “The
• Sarah Greenwood • William Cone, American Horror OR COMMERCIAL
Biggest Loser.”
Dunkirk Jay Shuster Story: Cult (“Election Night,”
• Nathan Crowley Coco “Winter of Our Discontent”) (“Bulbs”)
Murder on the • Harley Jessup • Jeff Mossa • James Chinlund HALF HOUR
Orient Express Despicable Me 3 Big Little Lies (“Somebody’s Chanel SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES
• Jim Clay • Olivier Adam Dead,” “Living the Dream,” (“Gabrielle”)
The Post
• Rick Carter
The Lego Batman Movie
• Grant Freckelton
“You Get What You Need”)
• John Paino
• Shane Valentino
Katy Perry (“Bon Appétit”)
GLOW (1)
The Shape of Water Loving Vincent Black Mirror (“USS Callister”) • Natalie Groce Episodes “Pilot,” “The Wrath of Kuntar,”
“The Dusty Spur”
• Paul Denham Austerberry • Matthew Button • Joel Collins, Phil Sims Nike (“Equality”)
Fargo (“The Narrow Escape • Ruth De Jong PD Todd Fjelsted
Problem,” “The Law of Star Wars Battlefront II
EXCELLENCE IN (“Rivalry / Ps4”) In episodes of “GLOW,” a se-
Inevitability,” “Who Rules
PRODUCTION DESIGN • Jason Edmonds ries set in 1985 about a group
FOR TELEVISION the Land of Denial?”)
• Elisabeth Williams of female wrestlers, Todd takes
Feud: Bette and Joan us seamlessly and beautiful-
(“Pilot,” “And the Winner Is…,” ly through the story by way of
“You Mean All This Time We
Could Have Been Friends?”)
his nostalgic designs: from the
Beauty and the Beast • Judy Becker opening scene in director Sam
• Sarah Greenwood Sylvia’s house, to the GLOW
Blade Runner 2049 training gym, to a party in the
• Dennis Gassner ONE-HOUR PERIOD Malibu mansion of GLOW’s pro-
Star Wars: The Last Jedi OR FANTASY SINGLE- SERIES/AWARDS ducer Bash culminating with the
War for the Planet in-house filmed promos of the
A Series of Unfortunate Bill Nye Saves the World
of the Apes Events (“The Bad Beginning: (“Earth Is a Hot Mess”) wrestling ladies. The notable
• James Chinlund Part One,” “The Reptile • James Pearse Connelly highlights that Todd has incor-
Wonder Woman Room: Part One,” “The Wide HALF HOUR Golden Globe Awards: porated throughout include a ro-
• Aline Bonetto Window: Part One”) SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES (“74th Annual”) bot that dispenses drugs, a room
• Bo Welch Future Man • Brian Stonestreet
The Crown (“Pandora’s Mailbox,” Portlandia
full of vintage video games of the
(“A Company of Men,” “Beyond the Truffledome,” “A (“Portland Secedes,”
“Beryl,” “Dear Mrs. Kennedy”) Date With Destiny”) “Ants,” “Fred’s Cell

• Martin Childs • Jessica Kender Phone Company”)

Game of Thrones Glow (“Pilot,” “The Wrath of • Schuyler Telleen
(“Dragonstone,” “The Queen’s Kuntar,” “The Dusty Spur”) Saturday Night Live
Justice,” “Eastwatch”) • Todd Fjelsted (“Aziz Ansari + Big Sean,”
CONTEMPORARY FILM • Deborah Riley Master of None “Alec Baldwin + Ed Sheeran,”
Downsizing Mindhunter (“Le Nozze,” “Thanksgiving,” “Larry David + Miley Cyrus”)
• Stefania Cella (“S1:E1,” “S1:E4,” “S1:E9”) “Amarsi Un Po”) • Keith Ian Raywood,
JANUARY 24, 2018

Get Out
• Rusty Smith
• Steve Arnold
Stranger Things (“Chapter
• Amy Williams
Silicon Valley(“Hooli-Con,”
Eugene Lee,
Akira Yoshimura, I had to brace myself to
Lady Bird
• Chris Jones
Six: The Spy,” “Chapter Eight:
The Mind Flayer,” “Chapter
“Server Error”)
• Richard Toyon
N. Joseph Detullio
Super Bowl Halftime Show watch ‘The Handmaid’s
• François Audouy
Nine: The Gate”)
• Chris Trujillo
Veep (“Omaha”)
• Jim Gloster
(“Starring Lady Gaga”)
• Bruce Rodgers Tale.’ The design was a
sucker punch.”
70 Cat Smith
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