As much as the actors bring the characters to life, the production design brings the world they inhabit to life. My part of that magic is through the graphics in collaboration with the production designer. The nuts and bolts of what I do is, I'm sure, familiar to all of you.
1) Graphics Breakdown- read the script and identify featured graphics and then anticipate the graphic needs of each scene.
2) Meet with designer to discuss reference, color selection- as to character and scene, discuss mood and direction.
3) Departments - Address each departments graphic needs- Props, set dec, construction, wardrobe, production
4) Clearances- names for products, characters, schools, police, etc.
4) Preliminary designs; using supporting reference, (at this point I hope to be in synch with what the designer wants) to create renditions of period or contemporary designs
5) Approval process- submit final designs to production designer, then art director, and then subsequent departments for continuity of design per production designer.
6) Production; provide drawings and specifications for construction and paint, finished artwork ready for outsourcing in proper format. Output as much as possible in house with my own graphics kit.
That’s my time table, but it is my “real world” experience that has enabled me to deliver designs that work for whatever production I’m chosen for.
In my late 20’s I opened a sign company and small design firm in a small town in South Carolina. I designed logos, sign systems for the county, hospitals, fire department, retail, restaurants. Made logos menus, brochures, letterheads pop displays. I designed , built, painted, carved, gilded and installed. I had to present designs, give estimates, and meet deadlines. I was featured in books on signs and in a Graphis anthology of environmental graphics along with local awards from Main Street USA.
I didn’t know what a perfect proving ground for film my commercial career was until I lost my sign and design shop to a fire. With the help of a former employee I landed my first job on “Hudsucker Proxy” starting as a painter and quickly promoted to sign writer. It wasn’t until my construction coordinator encouraged me to show my graphic design portfolio, from my business, to the art director and that landed my first job as graphic designer for “Forces of Nature”. Since then I have worked on “The Notebook”, “Conspirator”, Dear John”, the television series “Reckless”, “The Longest Ride”, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” , "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” and more.
That’s what I do and how I work, but what I truly love and share with the production designer and my fellow crew members is the passion to create something that can only be done as part of a team. The pride in giving it my best and then to see that work and the work of all of us come to life on screen. That is the thrill. And as I’ve often told people “when I do my job well you will not know I did my job at all”.
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