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SXSW Round Table: Production Design


An account by PDC member LISA MYERS

This year, I spent almost an entire week at the vibrant SXSW festival with the honor of taking part in the PDC’s Production Design Round Table – along side talented designers Chad Keith and Emmeline E. Wilks-Dupoise. As we all know, it’s a rare occasion to be able to stop and enjoy the success of past films when you’re already deep in other projects. The scheduling stars aligned, and I was able to attend the festival with Sophie Goodhart’s MY BLIND BROTHER. My past experience at festivals has always been taking a late night flight, one or two whirlwind days, only to fly back to make it to set on little to no sleep. This time around, I could check out other films, make real connections and enjoy all the festival has to offer.

In 2015, I was fortunate to catch the fabulous Inbal Weinberg’s Production Design Mentor Session, but wasn’t entirely sure what to expect for our event, as Round Tables are a new addition to the SXSW lineup. Initially, the plan was for registered attendees to spend 20 minutes with each of the three designers, but in the end, it felt much more natural to push three round tables together. I loved being able to hear the other speakers share their stories, and it was fun to connect on shared experiences. There were plenty of laughs and head nodding as we took turns telling our production design “origin” stories.

I was excited to see the wide range of experience levels and positions of the audience members. Everyone at the (rather large and oddly shaped) table participated. I was most affected by the conversations about the difficulties of starting out, and the struggles that we are continually confronted with. Everyone spoke freely about the battle of working your way up in the art department and the film world. The space felt alive with a charge of solidarity – a room full of dedicated artists pushing forward to continue making beautiful things. We are all so lucky to get to make art as a career – but it’s not without sacrifice. Money, personal life, creative fulfillment...Everything comes into play when you care about what you do. As we try to find balance for ourselves in that gamble, it’s inspiring to be reminded that we’re all in it together.

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