Lilly Kilvert's design credits include nearly 30 independent and major Hollywood feature films. Her work on "The Last Samurai" and "Legends of the Fall" garnered her Academy Award nominations. Most recently she's been a judge on the Syfy Network's reality show "Hot Set", wihch features extreme production design challenges.
I have been designing films for over 30 years and have watched the world of sketching, drafting and painting move to the world of cad, sketch up, and computer concept drawing. I have seen a total switch in the way a film is conceived from paper to film (or digital).
Though there are many positive things to say about the new world, I believe we have lost the art of story telling to the world of what amazing things can be created. Sometimes I think we create things simply because we can.
Location scouting was a big part of my world, now we find a piece of something and visual effects expands it. In that process alone you lose reality and the vastness removes the sense of our world.
We are so quick now to say: ”we’ll fix it is post” - that magical place that takes no time and costs no money. At that point the designer is removed from creating the visuals. This results in an incomplete vision, as somebody unrelated to the process of making a particular film fills in the blanks.
So I am turning back the clock as much as I can. I am shooting the second season of Marco Polo (set in the 12th century) - instead of using a computer generated backdrop, I am using painted drops. This allows the camera to see the way your eye sees, things in the distance are softer. The new digital HD has been a great challenge as it is as sharp in the foreground as it is in the background, creating a totally flat image. So we must create the middle ground to replace a feeling of depth in order to give the real perception of the human eye. This is accomplished with atmosphere in the air, smoke, dust, feathers and a slighlty softer use of fabric etc.
I think we go to the movies to be taken to another world, another life. To experience empathy with another world. What the last years have brought us is worlds with more busy-ness to stimulate the eye and less story to follow. Designers are storytellers, not illustrators. They create the world a film lives in.
I like to believe that world could exist.
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