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The presence of students and recent graduates at the inaugural Production Designers Gathering infused the event with fresh perspectives and enthusiasm. In recognition of their contribution to the Gathering, we asked participating students about their future plans and aspirations.
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Bertille Hablot

"I wish to listen not only with my ears, but also with my heart and my sensibility."

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Tigerlily Campbell-Smith

"I want to be scared yet excited of what my imagination can come up with and push what realities I can make."

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Lina Zackariya

"I would like to become the kind of designer that strives to break convention – uncover the worlds waiting to be uncovered."

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Lexx Onigbanjo

"To be a forever-student of humanity and culture."

December 3rd, 2023

What kind of production designer do you want to be?

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Bertille Hablot

After three years studying Theory and History of Arts, Bertille graduated from the french school of cinema La Fémis in 2021. She now works as production designer assistant, under the mentorship of Anne Seibel.

If I have the luck, one day, to become a production designer, I won’t forget the example of the great designers I have met. I have been surrounded by amazing people since I started working in the industry, and I hope that I will follow their paths.

I will try to describe what it is for me to be a good production designer, and maybe one day this text will be a guideline for me to follow.

First, I want be be able to listen, to really listen. I want to hear what the director wants to say, not only what he or she tells me but more deeply - the meaning of the project. I wish to listen not only with my ears, but also with my heart and my sensibility.

I want to be able to keep my door open, to be here to listen to what everybody needs. I could see what everyone has to give to the project, according to their capacities, what they want to learn, and where they want to go.

I want to be able to create and to find my own voice. I will need to believe in what I want to do, not with a rigid mind, but with the ability to wonder, to learn, to experiment. I want to be a real creative person, not afraid of dreaming, of finding out what I don’t know, of being lost sometimes. I want to believe in my inner feelings, and to accept that they take me deeper. I want to tell stories, not just put up walls for shooting. I will be kind to myself, allow myself time and peace, to be able to dream big without fear.

I want to be able to lead without commanding. I want to be able to give back what I have received. I want to give space to everyone to express oneself and to bloom, without patronizing. I want to be able to trust, without being hurt if the task isn’t as I imagined. I want to be able to put forward the work that has been done and the person who did it. I want to be able to laugh with my team, to be serious when we need to. I want to be the example. I want to trust the others and to give up what I want, sometimes, in order to find a new idea, richer and deeper. I could then say thank you.

If one day I could turn back and see that I have done all that, with good will, maybe even if I am never a production designer, I will have the right to be proud of myself.

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

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Lina Zackariya

Lina is a Melbourne-based designer graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2022 with a Master in Production Design (Screen). She is currently pursuing production and set design for film and television.

The most interesting dichotomy is that the field of production design is changing so rapidly (with new technology, skill sets, resources, etc) but simultaneously remains grounded in the same stories. 

We are, to an extent, oversaturated with versions of the same settings. There have been so many adaptations of the period living room or the Mars space station, and while each of these in their own right are equal parts creative, it sometimes becomes hard to disassociate from these seeds that have been planted in our minds, to then step away and create an “original” idea (if it even exists).

I would like to become the kind of designer that strives to break convention – uncover the worlds waiting to be uncovered. Flip precedent design on its head to offer something fresh. I am most interested in designing for human stories that are set in worlds as far removed from naturalism as possible. I think we learn the most about our nature when we are placed in an unfamiliar territory. 

Most importantly though, I would like to become a designer that inspires. To inspire a team that will strive to go above and beyond, wanting to exceed expectations for ourselves, and see where the art form can take us – this type of collaboration is most exciting to me. 

Consequently, to inspire the viewer in surrendering to this world, whereby the design is so completely ingrained in the fabric of the story that it feels completely ungrounded or lost without it. As a designer, I imagine that this is the most satisfying feeling.

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

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Tigerlily Campbell-Smith

I’m a Second Year Film student studying at the University of Westminster, London. I was struggling to find the role in which I felt I could fully express myself, but I think it took no less than half of the first lesson in Production Design for me to be captivated with the beauty of the job. Since then I started throwing myself into any student films and projects trying to get as much experience within what it takes to be a designer.

When I went to the Production Designers Gathering in Spetses I learnt an array of skills from some of my favourite designers, which was a true honour. They shared their wisdom and kindness with me - and over the weekend, we all felt such a beautiful and special connection. The experiences and conversations from that weekend will carry me through my life. However, it wasn't until recently, when I returned to university and was able to process the whole experience, I realised how much this weekend had changed my thoughts on what kind of designer I would like to become.

I am always looking for new sources of inspiration, whether it be a photographer whose work I have never seen or a city I have never visited or, most often, the infinite sources of visual inspiration I find walking around: a ghost sign, a dirty window, a 1970s brick garden - it’s endless. When I was at the Gathering in Greece I was lucky enough to be invited on a panel by Jeremy Hindle alongside other designers such as, Rick Carter, K.K. Barret, Fiona Crombie and James Chinlund. I spent 2 hours with them talking about daydreaming and the importance of your imagination. This personal experience of talking to a handful of designers about their own unique ways of working taught me that no way is a wrong way to be creative.

I want to be a designer that challenges myself to think more, be more creative, I want to be scared yet excited of what my imagination can come up with and push what realities I can make. Essentially, Film is how I learned about the world - different cultures, different generations, different ways of being a woman. I believed every frame of every movie that I saw, and as I got older and learned more I realised that movie-making allows people to look at their world in a different, more inquisitive way. Throughout the PD Gathering I learnt so much about becoming a designer. Although currently I am only 19, I believe that I know myself well. I know what I'm passionate about, I know what is important to me and I believe that you have to find out who you are and what inspires you, before you can do the job well. With the projects I will work on, I want to reference back to how I experience life what I personally have been inspired by. I still have endless experiences to have in life, but as of now, I know that I want to be a designer with stories to tell and I want people to come away thinking of the world with a different viewpoint.

Being in Greece and hearing about everyone's brilliant work and stories in the industry was so uplifting and exciting. I’ve come back so ready and eager to work in this industry full of inspirational people. Before the PD Gathering I didn’t think about how my personal experiences affects being a designer and what I personally want to bring to the screen. Now, I want to be a designer who transforms stories and enriches the screen with untold truths. I daydream about what stories I want to tell, what views and thoughts that I want to share with the world, but all cinema is a dream, nothing exists before we create it. I want to be there to adapt these stories and ultimately make people view the world with a little more curiosity.

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

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Lexx Onigbanjo

Lexx is a production designer and artist currently based in Brooklyn. Born and raised in Houston, TX, she graduated from Northeastern University with a BS in Architecture before receiving an MFA in Production Design at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

My goal is to be a worldbuilder.

To craft new visual worlds from the written word.

To capture the spectrum of emotions from joy, grief, love, and hatred to everything in between.

To visualize the intricacies of race and religion, past, present and future.

To explore the depths of sex and sexuality and its profound effects on the psyche.

To navigate the divisions of class and politics.

To be a forever-student of humanity and culture.

My goal is to use my work as a way of pushing boundaries, whether physical, technological, or historical.

To fully immerse the viewer, so much so they believe they could step into that new world.

To generate meaningful and stimulating discourse.

To inspire young storytellers like I was inspired by those before me.

To strive for true inclusion, not just tolerance and begrudging acceptance.

To continue to foster a community for designers all over the world.

My goal, personally, is to expand upon my strengths and continue to build up my weaknesses.

To hone my skills, integrating different mediums of creating to craft my particular design process.

To work hard and give my all.

To achieve a work-life balance that’s right for me and enhances my passion for the work.

My goal is to be a visual storyteller, a creator of worlds.

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

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