Continuing with my quest in finding more about other departments at work in the filmmaking process, listening to professionals (see here, here, here and here for some examples) I am glad to share with you an 18 minute video of self-taught production designer K.K. Barrett.
Barrett goes back to the beginning of his career and tell us how he became a production designer ‘by accident’ until 18 years ago, where he decided to commit to the job and accept to take on the title.
Here is what he says about being self-taught vs going to school to learn your craft:
“Any type of schooling is just a taking off point for you to go your own way and rewrite all the rules. So starting from scratch is the same thing except you’re rewriting from day one, and then you kind of go back and school yourself, and then you open up again.”
Barrett has had an ongoing relationships with several filmmakers such as Sofia Coppola, Michel Gondry, and particularly Spike Jonze with whom he has been working on every feature the director took on.
He evokes how he tackled each feature up til Where The Wild Things Are and it is clear that understanding the script, the level of depth of each characters and the story are key for Barrett to perform well as a Production Designer.
It sounds obvious, especially since everybody keeps saying that a good film starts with a good script, but if you have already worked on sets, I am sure you know by now that only the true professionals, those who love their job and are good at their job dig into the script as much as they can and should.
Hearing someone talking about their take on a script to develop their craft is pretty much how I see how serious this person is.
“In film I tend to be a minimalist, I tend to be reductive, to take things away until the things that are important or the things that are the most visually pleasing, or striking, or non-competitive with the foreground characters remain. “
And here is Barrett takes on film:
Life has its own kind of nature and rhythm. Even in film, people thing they controls things when they only control a certain amount of it. There’s so many different branches coming from different sides that you can hope to control it, but really you’re just nudging it or channeling it in a certain direction. Sometimes if you control it too much you take off the elements of chance and it’s not as fresh as if you’ve just grabbed it.
Enjoy and if you have links of videos in that spirit (the longer the better) about any departments, feel free to share in the comments or email me!
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