Behind the Scenes Dudes

_1366038997As you all know by now, I’m kind of really into the behind the scenes stuff where it comes to film making. I know for a lot of people they are kind of forgotten elements, or not even forgotten more like oblivious elements. However after taking basically 5 years worth of continuous film studies courses, yeah– the people who make the films we love and adore so much are not to be ignored, not even a little bit. Okay, you can ignore them, but I reserve the right to judge you for not knowing that one person didn’t just stick a camera somewhere, and asked a bunch of people to memorize some lines, and say them into said camera. Which brings us to now, and the obsessive nature in which we examine nearly every aspect of the making of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by going with the scraps of information we have access to. In my case, IMDb.com is my new best friend, and it probably owes me cash at this point in our relationship, or something, perhaps it owes me sex, who knows! Anyway behind the scenes people I am currently fascinated with though, ’cause that is the point of this article, are the men whose names have taken up residency under the production titles of Production Design, and Art Direction, basically the areas of film production that house some of my most favoritist things– set design! Yep, set design being the aspect of film production that involves all that fancy stuff called furniture, and set dressings, i.e, the fun stuff! Okay, fun for me.

All right, so these are the dudes who are in charge of everything that we see in the background, or– these are the people who are in charge of the over all look of the film where it comes to set design. Do not be confused, these people do not decide how the film will be shot, that aspect of the production is in the hands of the cinematographer, the lighting department, the editors, and the director. Okay, so here they are! Philip Messina is back as the head of production design, he was at the helm for The Hunger Games, so anyone who was worried about continuity where it comes to that aspect of the series, rest easy– same guy’s in charge, it’s not going to be like watching The Wizard of Oz, and then Return to Oz, which look nothing alike, because they were made almost 50 years apart

One of these dudes worked on Crystal Skull. I don't judge.

One of these dudes worked on Crystal Skull. I don’t judge.

from each other, have an entirely different look, feel, oh– and cast. What I think is comforting, or intriguing about Mr. Messina though, is his body of work outside of The Hunger Games, I’ll name some projects off, and if you haven’t seen them, watch them ASAP. He worked on the pilot episode of Freaks and Geeks, which was a short-lived, critically acclaimed, and over all cult hit series on NBC, look it up and be amazed by the roster of people who worked on this sadly short-lived project. Next we’ve got Erin Brokovich, then we’ve got Traffic, and then Ocean’s Eleven, and 8 Mile, then Solaris (no, I have not seen the original), ooh, then Ocean’s Twelve, which I did not see, so just like you I’m going to have to go watch it ASAP, what else? The Good German, Che: Part Two, The Last Airbender, and then Machine Gun Preacher. There are a couple of lemons on this list, like Airbender, but I’m going to say this– Airbender looked amazing, and that was his job, and he did it well.

Who’s next!? Ah yes, John Collins is back as supervising art director, um– personally his dossier makes me nervous for our children, so I’m just going to skip to the men whose names are underneath his! Adam Davis’ dossier doesn’t make me nervous, it kind of piques my interest a little, ’cause hey– looky there he worked on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and ooh, he was the assistant art director on Super 8. But, ew, he worked on a Jessica Simpson filmed concert, oh well– we can’t all be perfect, besides Francis Lawrence our director extraordinaire is practically the music video king. What’s, I mean who’s next, why it’s Robert Fechtman, who no one has likely heard of, which is sad, because this man has had a diverse career. I’m serious, this man has worked on films that span genres, and Jennifer-and-Liam-behind-the-scenes-of-Catching-Fire-catching-fire-33265682-500-321budget limits, and just, here are a few just so you get a taste– on Star Trek: Into Darkness he was a set designer, Pineapple Express he was assistant art director, Mirror Mirror he was a set designer, he worked on Memoirs of a Geasha, The Aviator, The Holiday, both Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and At World’s End, Constantine (ah ha, where he met Francis Lawrence!), Three Kings, and my favorite worst bad action movie of the 90s, Starship Troopers. Safely I believe I can say, the man’s ability to design a myriad of different kinds of sets, is probably up there with some of the greatest artists whose work now adorns postcards, and dorm rooms. 

Last name! We’re at the last name, and he’s got a whole title and category reserved just for him. He must feel really special. His name is, Larry Dias, and he is the head set decorator, meaning he’s in charge of the small details the I like to stare at for hours, and contemplate their over all meaning, because just like him– I am special too. Back to Larry, who just like Mr. Fechtman, has had a diverse career. Larry unlike Fechtman is a one of the returnees from the original Hunger Games camp, but that won’t stop me from re-examining and marveling over the fact that he worked on Serenity, The Village, and Inception. Nope, not at all.

I’m just going to say it guys, no wonder the Snow-val Office was so impeccably designed, and– our beloved Catching Fire I think is in very safe hands.

Them There Eyes

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2 comments

  1. Do all these other people work under Phillip Messina? I remember some interviews with him in the BTS videos. (I think. At least, I have a clear picture of what the guy looks like in my head.)

  2. I agree TTE, safe hands. Even though writers, directors and/or actors may have screwed the pooch on many of the films you named, visually the sets were all pretty outstanding. Of course, for pure production design and art direction, no one will ever top the Lord of the Rings crew and WETA workshop IMHO.

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