Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer and Jacqueline Durran Talk About Anna Karenina Production and Costume Designs
Biritsh filmmaker Joe Wright received worldwide attention in 2005 with his take on Austin’s iconic Pride & Prejudice, and built a reputation of being the “period piece guy”. It didn’t came as a big surprise when he announced his next project was Anna Karenina, but things got interesting when 12 weeks before entering into production, Wright had an “epiphany” and decided that the whole movie -but for one character’s scenes- would take place inside a theater.
If the script didn’t require any modifications (a line was changed after Wright’s decision) it did require a lot of changing and creativity from his Production Design team, led by Sarah Greenwood, and who received her third Oscar nomination for her work. (Lincoln won last night).
Overall Anna Karenina has received very little attention during the 2013 Oscar race, although I think Wright, his actors and his team did a tremendous job at pushing boundaries and trying to find a new way to tell a “classic” story. Anna Karenina is not the period drama you have seen a 1000 times before, it talks and stimulates your senses by playing with sets and costumes in a original and exciting way.
Thanks to the one and only DP/30, below is a 30 minute interview with Production Designer Sarah Greenwood and Set Decorator Katie Spencer, who have been long time collaborator and have worked together on Anna Karenina. With simplicity and a charming sense of humor they talk about the way they handled the unexpected news of shooting in a theater so they were able to go from a “relatively conventional costume drama” to achieving Wright’s vision.
It is so rare to hear from these departments, it’s a real pleasure to listen to Greenwood and Spencer who also tackle many more subjects, including their career, collaborating with Wright and their love/hate relationship with their jobs.
Anna Karenina did have a won Best Costume Design last night thanks to Jacqueline Durran‘s spectacular work. Durran mixed 1870s silhouettes with fashion from the 1950s; in the short video below she explains how her and Wright worked on these silhouettes and she gives out details about specific characters.
Another interesting aspect brought to light in this video is how the way actors approach their roles impact the costumes they will wear and Durran will design.
I have never worked on a period drama or a production of that size for that matters, and I was unaware that costume designers were meeting with actors very early on in the process to see with them how to serve best their acting and the characters.
The video below gives great insight about this process:
check the archives for a taste of it.