Kelly McGehee recently designed Andrea Arnold’s acclaimed "American Honey". Her other film credits include director Oren Moverman's last two films "The Dinner" and "Time out of mind", as well as "What Maisie knew", "Bee season", "The deep end", and "Suture". In TV, McGeehee designed the shows “The Affair” and “How to Make it in America.”
The first films I worked on were written and directed by my brother and best friend from ideas germinated in conversations in the tiny living rooms of a small bunch of kids we watched and talked about movies with in Berkeley. We developed the germs of ideas for the the look of the films at the same time we drew out the story. It was deeply and powerfully collaborative. And I think probably the biggest draw for me as a designer is still the desire for that kind of immersive creative experience with other humans.
Like most of us, I’m sure, I’m drawn to directors who I admire and respect. I’ve been super lucky to work with some impressive artists who are really thinking about the medium, how to tell stories in a way that is artful and unexpected; playing with structure, and point of view, and sound, pace, color, emotion, framing, design in a way that’s provocative and thoughtful.
I don’t take a project on much anymore without being a huge fan of the DP, and I love the symbiotic dreaming that happens in that relationship when it’s good. Stunning lighting is like a tangible magic, and planning how we’ll get it is a great joy.
Although I’m always keen to work on a project with a script that excites me at first blush, that’s become a little softer for me sometimes. I’ve experienced the script evolving through collaboration in compelling ways, and if the director and the DP are good, the actors are interesting, the editor is beautiful, and the design is on point, the storytelling can move and change in ways I find compelling.
I’m drawn to designing physical and emotional environments that feel new to me in some way, and that deepen my understanding about people or places in ways that stay with me after the project is over. And I’m drawn to cultivating creative relationships that stay active too, with new families that come together and become immersed in the act of creating something meaningful, and have the potential to find their way back to each other to do it all over again.
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