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Around the World


June 2016


May 2016

PDC Around the World


June 11, 2016



“Ireland has been attracting film and TV dramas over the last 20 years due to the stunning landscape, the good variety of locations, the highly skilled workforce and of course the various tax incentives that have been in place since 1994. These tax incentives were increased last year, which is already having a positive impact on foreign productions coming to Ireland. In 2014 the Irish Film board supported 20 Irish features and 11 co-productions, as well as numerous indigenous documentaries, short films and animations. In the last couple of years Vikings, Penny Dreadful & Ripper Street have all been shot here. This year season 2 of Badlands has just begun production, Vikings is running for another season, and a pilot for MGM/Hulu has just been completed, a number of smaller Irish and UK TV & film dramas are also in production. 


There are 2 main studios, which are close to Dublin and this is also where most of the crew are located. Dublin city has a decent variety of architectural styles & period houses, particularly Georgian, Victorian & Edwardian, and it’s close to Wicklow, which has some of the most stunning scenery in the country. Dublin is big enough to have variety, but small enough to be easy to get around and shoot in. The city has doubled for numerous UK cities, New York, and many modern Cities. 


There is a small number of production designers based here (around 20), although some of those work in the UK also. In the past, productions designer were generally brought in for foreign productions but that has changed over the last 10 years and local designers are now employed on some of the biggest jobs. The type of work that comes in has changed too, the largest jobs now tend to be American TV series, 10 to 15 years ago the biggest jobs were American movies.  A few years ago there were a lot of UK TV dramas shot here, that number has decreased a little recently. In general the feature films shot here are a mixture of local and foreign co-produced, the majority are fairly low budget, and a small number of medium sizes films are made some of these have recently made a big impact on the international stage, Room (an Irish co-production shot in Toronto), Brooklyn & The Lobster in the last year alone. 


The art department in Ireland follows the British structure, over the years most of us have worked on American (and European) films so our crews adapt to whatever structure is required. Most crew work on both smaller and larger scale work, the industry here isn’t divided into crew who only work on television drama and others who only do features, there’s not enough work for that to happen. In some way it’s a good thing as we all gain a wide variety of experience. As it’s a small industry attracting some large scale productions, like in many places, we can run out of experienced crew very quickly – this is exasperated by the fact that most of the productions happen all at the same time, in the summer months when the daylight hours are exceptionally long. 


As the industry is relatively small, the associated service industry can be limited, for example there is only a small number of prop houses here, so we often need to go to London for props. This adds a cost to the production for transport and, depending on the type of funding the film has we can be restricted in the amount of money we can spend outside of Ireland, this is usually only a problem on really small budget projects. There are good skills here in construction, props, prosthetics, prop making etc, again this is due to crews getting the opportunity to work on larger scale productions. With a small industry comes the advantage and disadvantage of working with the same crew again and again, at least it means we all have to get along and work together, there’s no room for falling out! As a result Irish crews are generally good to work with, it’s something that is often commented on by foreign productions. And, due to the broad experience base, Irish crews also have a good reputation for hard work & high standards due to their consistent exposure to high-end productions.


There is one school in Dublin that specializes in production design training, although the focus is towards TV light entertainment and theatre. My own path into film was through that same art school, before they had a specialized course in production design. I fell into it by accident, the school had a film course and I designed film student’s graduation short films. Looking back it was a natural progression as I had previously studied architecture for 3 years and learned the practical skills I needed for design there. There is also an organization here called Screen Training Ireland and they provide workshops for all areas of film training, including postproduction. They work very closely with industry professionals and focus on specific training requirements, often bringing in the top professionals from abroad to do workshops.


It’s rare I get to work on a film that is actually set in Ireland. When I do, I am very particular about how Ireland is represented on screen, I want it to be authentic and not romanticized or glamourized. Because Ireland was gloriously romanticized by Hollywood in the past (The Quiet Man comes to mind!), there is still a tendency to romanticize it, even today. Most of the jobs I do are set elsewhere, and usually that elsewhere is London. I have done quite a few period dramas recently, all set in England, so Dublin has doubled for Victorian London, Jane Austen England, Post war/Cold war London and 1960s north east England. I love doing period work, you learn so much, and the research is always interesting. The only drawback is finding new ways to hide radiators and light switches! My most recent project was a film called Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman. It’s an adaptation of a Jane Austen unfinished novella set in England in the 1790s. We shot on location in Dublin and the surrounding areas, dressing existing locations for the period. The film is smart and funny and is getting great reviews. It’s rewarding to see an independent feature film (which are all struggling these days to get proper funding) do so well. It makes all the effort worthwhile!“

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PDC Around the World


May 15, 2016


“Our film industry has been growing over the last few years, thanks to government public policies enabling expansion of film and TV productions. Our advertising and commercial industry is strong and well-structured, and some of our film productions receive international attention. Based on recent numbers, Brazil produces about 160 films per year (137 films in 2010, 167 films in 2013, 180 films in 2014).

“Our film industry has been growing over the last few years, thanks to government public policies enabling expansion of film and TV productions. Our advertising and commercial industry is strong and well-structured, and some of our film productions receive international attention. Based on recent numbers, Brazil produces about 160 films per year (137 films in 2010, 167 films in 2013, 180 films in 2014). 

The industry is mostly concentrated on the axis Rio de Janeiro x Sao Paulo, but there are satellite centers in Porto Alegre in the south of Brazi, Recife in the northeast and Brasilia in the center. I live in Sao Paulo and work mostly there, though this year I worked on a film in Porto Alegre, which was produced locally.


The local audiences here, like in most countries, have great appetite for American blockbusters - whether action films, dramas, romance or comedy. As far as local films produced here, many tend towards commercial comedies that are closely connected to the telenovelas and series of the big TV channels. Some other examples of success among audiences are action films that translate the reality of poverty, violence and drug trafficking (City of God, Elite Squad).


Often, local industry collaborates with foreign productions - in commercials, international productions often come with director/producer/DP/AD and then hire the rest of the crew locally. In film, frequently there are co-productions between Brazilian companies and production companies from different countries, resulting crews that are a mix of locals and foreigners. The frequency of these collaborations tend to depend on the state of our economy and the worth of the local currency in relation to foreign currencies. The core art department's structure on a medium film is as follows: PD, 1st art assistant (my right arm, goes everywhere with me, visiting, staying on set...), set designer (developing sets), propmaster (also in charge of set dressing) and art producer (in charge of construction and paint). The rest of the crew gets hired on a need basis (such as carpenters, scenics etc). 


What makes Brazil special as a location, without question in my opinion, is the exuberance of nature. With its continental scale, the country offers many different landscapes. In Rio de Janeiro, the encounter between city and nature creates immense beauty that is unique worldwide. As far as working environment, I believe that although the country needs to evolve in terms of pace, bureaucracy, ethics and combating corruption, our film industry is full of quality professionals of international standards, dynamic productions and people with passion for good work!


In terms of the position of production designer, we are at an interesting moment in time: our industry has had a resurgence in the past 20 years, from the mid-ninteis till now, and as a result production designers became acknowledged in the market, and also mentored a new generation of professionals. In the last 5 years the demand has been growing, which has lead to more professionals entering the industry. Many of the production designers come for an architecture background (which is my case) or from fine arts, and only learn film production through practice. We have an association here in Sao Paulo, ADASP (Associaçao dos diretores de Arte de SP), which counts about 50 professionals and meets sporadically. We interact infrequently, but could cooperate much more!


Personally, though a great part of my influences and visual references come from work and artistic manifestations created in other cultures, my goal is to translate those into our society, our “personality” in its various times. In that sense, the reality (economic, social, historic) generates spaces, streets, architectural solutions, social groups that are great sources of inspiration to me when I set out to create a universe of images and define a path for a project. One of my latest films, Jules and Dolores (dir: Caito Ortiz), recently premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. It is a comedy of errors depicting the theft of the Jules Rimet Cup in 1983 in Rio de Janeiro. The cup is given to each country that wins the football World Cup, and was permanently given to Brazil in 1970, after they achieved their 3rd World Cup win. Our references varied from works of the painter Giorgio Morandi to Brazilian films made in the early 80s, and we are very proud of the result! Attached are photos from the productions, and a link to the trailer.”

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