93rd Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: PRODUCTION DESIGN

SPEECH BY: Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale


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Q. Can you hear me?  I was wondering, so when you make a movie in black and white, basically, and you have to design and produce a set, how do you go about to make it extra, in a sense, pop, pop extra for a viewer when we don't get to enjoy, in a sense, the colors and the vibrations that we usually would?  How much more difficult does it make your job, or exciting, in that aspect? 
A. (Donald Graham Burt) I think what we do to make it pop is contrast, pop in terms of color.  So we did a lot of testing to make it see ‑‑ you know, just so things didn't become murky, you know, having darks versus medium grays versus whites, and trying to create contrast in a set so there's separation, and letting those shapes and that contrast create the excitement.
A. (Jan Pascale) And it was exciting, I have to say.
A. (Donald Graham Burt) Yeah.  It was challenging.  I'll put it that way. 
A. (Jan Pascale) Challenging.  To try to create Old Hollywood and San Simeon and try to make it look realistic and not too over the top was a bit of a challenge.  But it was a lot about balance ‑‑ just balancing.  And, as Don always says, subtraction.  So we had to do a lot of subtraction from the 21st Century to get to the 1930s. 

Q. Hi.  So Mank was such a beautiful homage to Citizen Kane and Orson Welles and Old Hollywood in general.  Was that something that ever intimidated you while crafting the production?  
A. (Jan Pascale) It did, me more than him. 
A. (Donald Graham Burt) I think a lot of things intimidated me.  It didn't intimidate me only because, you know, once you came to terms with it in the beginning, once you knew when you were working on and what period it was and once you were trying to make a film that could play alongside to, you know ‑‑ in Citizen Kane, something that, you know, you would pull it off the shelf and play it after you watched Citizen Kane, possibly, it became a singular film.  And once you kind of kept that in your framework and in your mind, that this was its own film, it was much easier to execute.
A. (Jan Pascale) Yeah.  It was a bit daunting thinking of decorating San Simeon without the budget of Charles ‑‑ you know, William Randolph Hearst.  So that was a bit of a challenge.  But it was also rewarding in a way, to be able to create our version of it, you know, based on the research. 
A. (Donald Graham Burt) Yeah.  Doing anything historical, you know, especially in L.A. and the film industry that we work in, I mean, it was such a joy.  I mean, you know, that was the reward, really, you know?
A. (Jan Pascale) We love doing period films.  That's ‑‑ I mean, that's my favorite.


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