92nd Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: PRODUCTION DESIGN

SPEECH BY: Barbara Ling (Production Design), Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration), Regina Graves (Set Decoration)


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Q. Congratulations. This is the most beautiful evocation of Hollywood in 1969 ever on film. And I'm just wondering how much did location manager Rick Schuler have to do with the look of the film? And how -- can you tell us a little bit about how production designers and location managers work together?
A. (Barbara Ling) Rick, of course, I mean, locations in this -- getting a location is what they're all about, is the amazing thing of getting the permits that we even got which took, you know, months of trying to permit, and Rick was amazing with the city. Hollywood Boulevard wasn't very interested in letting us close or do anything, but after months of work and going back over and over again, Rick was able to shore that up. So, you know, the great thing with locations is without them, it would be me alone driving around and then trying to figure out how you do a contract. So they are there to be -- to kind of work with me to start and to help facilitate the things we're looking for, and then being able to actually get it for us, which is a job in itself. So I have everything to thank for Rick Schuler, and his team were unbelievable on this film.

Q. Congratulations. And speaking of locations, I was reminded of when Richard Sylbert was designing CHINATOWN, he talked about how difficult it was to find remaining pockets of LA's past, and that was a film that was just maybe 35 years, except when they were filming and now you're recreating LA 50 years prior to the film's release. Talk about the challenges with this sort of relentlessly changing and reconstructed landscape. LA likes to talk about its support for filmmakers, yet it literally kind of chews up its own physical history.
A. (Barbara Ling) Oh, yeah. As we were shooting the things that we actually thought we could get were Rick Schuler would have to call me and say, "It's already being torn down, a developer is already going to -- it's going to be gone by the time we need to shoot." So and, you know, LA is not a preservation city, never has been, unfortunately, but now it's on a very amped up, nonstop movement of apartment buildings and glass towers. As you see them coming across Hollywood Boulevard already, what we even did will be impossible to do next year because so much is going to be chewed up. It's unfortunate. We're hoping this film brings some nostalgia back and gets a preservation board a little bit more on board to try to stop things from being torn down and built on top of things so at least you have the old and the new. So.

Q. Quick question. Kind of on what my colleague was asking about locations, I was most curious about your choice of like Casa Vega and Musso & Frank's. Those restaurants were around back then, they're around now. Do you have a list of places that you really wanted to go but couldn't or wish you had? I'm just curious about that.
A. (Barbara Ling) No, those three restaurants, El Coyote, Casa Vega and Musso's are Quentin's most favorite restaurants that he's been going to since he was, you know, in college. So -- and the only reason we got all three of those for the timeframe to do it is because they love him, because he's one of the great customers, and Musso's never closed for seven days ever for anybody, and they did it for Quentin. So.

Q. And what I was curious, also, was radio stations, you were very particular about the radio stations that were active back then. Because you also redid a billboard, an old radio billboard --
A. (Barbara Ling) Yeah.

Q. -- right next to Casa Vega.
A. (Barbara Ling) Yeah.

Q. So, I mean, was the research on the radio stations that important for you as well?
A. (Barbara Ling) The first week I started, I started driving around with Quentin, and the first thing he did was throw in an original KHJ tape that he had been collecting for six months, all of the -- day by day of our film, he got all the original tapes of that time. So that's all we listened to every time we got into a car. And you'd be, like, you know, Sirhan Sirhan just walked into the courtroom and you'd realize you're hearing all the news flashes of -- but that's -- you know, it was one of the most popular stations at the time, and because we were a car culture, when you, you know, when you got in your car you turned on your favorite station and that's what it was all the time. So for Quentin, that was a key station to have.



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