This week I wrapped on ‘Project Y2K’ (Dir. Brendan Cain, Prod. Azi Wallermayer, D.P Jack McAvoy) a rather unconventional project I production & costume designed. Set on New Years Eve 1999, ‘Project Y2K’ follows sisters Liz and Jesse, Liz’s ex-boyfriend Jeff and her new older man, Dom, as they stand of the precipice of the new millennium and all the fear, anticipation and excitement that comes with it. What was especially unusual about this project was that it was entirely developed through workshops with the actors and director. So instead of a script, we had a general scene structure and on the day, all scenes were improvised. Working without a script was definitely something new to me and I often found it difficult not having a document to breakdown and treat as gospel. But as it happens, I went to uni with all the key crew and we’ve been friends for years so they didn’t mind all the questions I kept slinging at them!
Trying to recreate the 90s was definitely a challenge and turned out to be more difficult than I first expected. While research and reference images were easy enough to find (multiple watchings of ’10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Heartbreak High’ anyone?) the 90s isn’t particularly considered ‘vintage’ so things like mobile phones and paper props (especially magazines) were difficult to find. And because the 90s is recent history that I had lived through, I was constantly aware that my instincts were based on my 10-year-old self’s memories and perhaps weren’t the same as the character’s. So I found myself trying to think outside my memories and go against my instincts which was probably for the best because inflatable furniture and lava lamps probably wouldn’t have been the best choices.
Looking at my initial mood-boards (below) and the finished sets, I think I pretty much managed to create what I set out to. Now to await the final project!
As you might have noticed from my previous posts, I’ve only just managed to discover Mad Men and it’s safe to say I’m in love. For a while there I was spending every spare moment watching and kept having to stop myself from bringing up ‘what Don said the other day’ or that great thing Peggy did at the office like we’re all best friends and they’re real people. In a way, I wish I had gotten on board earlier because I could have been feeling this enthusiastic and inspired for years rather than just crammin’ it all into 2 weeks of crack-addict-like viewing.
So, I won an award from the Australian Production Design Guild for my work on ‘Spirit Harbour’! It’s rather exciting but also nerve-racking, I had to make a speech. But I did get a trophy, so that definitely made up for the enforced public-speaking. It sits on my desk next to my paints to remind me that recognition from your peers is really something special.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like… well, you get the idea. I’m a self-confessed Christmas fan, although it’s not the food or gifts that excite me (however, they certainly do help). For me, it’s all about the decor. I love that Christmas is the one time a year where you can get offensively kitschy and it’s not only accepted, it’s applauded. More tinsel, more glitter and the bigger the plastic Santa in your yard, the better! Last year I paid $5 (a steal!) for a vintage Christmas tree made entirely of shiny green plastic and can’t wait to crack it out and smother it mini Santas and snow men. Maybe it’s a bit early yet so in the meantime, these vintage snaps will have to tide me over.
I’m know totally behind the 8 ball here but I’ve got to say, I just love Mad Men. I recently started season 1 (yes, I know I’m about 7 years behind but better late than never!) and after a long weekend of near solid watching, I’m on to season 2.
In my search for behind the scenes pics (because I’ve just got to see those sets, damn it! How do they do it?), I came across this editorial from Rolling Stone. These images are what I imagine film-making looks but has never been. It’s classic, feels stylishly black and white and everyone (including the camera dept.) is in collared shirts or dresses with perfect hair and make-up. Unfortunately the reality is more sneakers and jeans but does it have to be? I remember reading somewhere that on the set of ‘Adaptation’, Spike Jones, cinematographer Lance Accord and the first A.D wore a shirt and tie to every day of shooting to give their profession ‘the respect it deserves’. Certainly not practical and maybe it’s superficial but I find it inspiring.
I usually try to make an effort of the first few days of shooting but by the end, it’s a miracle if I manage to get my clothes on the right way. But perhaps this is the wrong approach. Perhaps, like Spike and Lance, I should dress to how I want the shoot to be and not to how I feel, which is inevitably tired and overworked.
I’m currently gearing up to start work on a new short set in 1999 and have found some great reference images although I must say, recreating the 90s is somewhat strange. I’m treating this as a period piece in the sense that I’m trying to recreate a feeling of the past but it’s strange when this past is recent history that I lived through. Indeed, when approaching the design for this project I’ve generally been trying to go against my own impressions and memories of the 90s and rather tap into the world the characters live in, not only because I was a kid during the 90s and this short is about a bunch of uni kids on New Years Eve but because personal challenges are always fun, right?