FIND ANSWERS: Production Design, Dalila Mendez
Recently, Dalila Paola Mendez (production designer for the award-winning Moquita y Mari) shared her production design do’s and don’ts for filmmakers — what to do before filming begins, how to get the most bang for the buck, what to read/see/know to hire a designer.
Here, Dalila shares more in-depth answers for production designers, exploring everything from the artistic process to professional experience and challenges.
What do you look for first when assessing the aesthetic needs of a project?
When I first read a script, I begin to create a working metaphor – a psychological and emotional image – of what I think the script is communicating. As I continue to read the script, visual images begin to come to life in my head where colors, textures and mood begin to form. Through this process, and the details of the script, I am able to assess the aesthetic needs of a film.
What are some of the common communication challenges when it comes to keeping multiple departments in the loop on design changes?
One of the challenges is time because changes can happen in an instant. For example, when you are trying to get a hold of key people and they aren’t available, it can be a major issue, especially when the clock is ticking and everything is pressing.
What prior training or early professional experiences were most influential in developing your artistic eye?
My training as a visual artist has helped me tremendously as a production designer. As I compose a piece on canvas or in the camera I want the textures, colors, objects and lighting to create or convey a mood. It’s the same way I work in film as a production designer.
In 2001, I was extremely fortunate to assist production designer Brigitte Broch in the film Real Women have Curves. I was not only her assistant, but I was able to be a set buyer, set decorator and create artwork for the film. I was able to shadow her throughout the process and learned the craft while on the job. I couldn’t have asked for better training. I continue to work with Ms. Broch and continue to learn from her amazing skills.
From your experience, does the pre-production process of drawing up sketches and building models vary drastically depending on a film’s budget?
Yes, it definitely varies on films whether we create sketches or models. As a designer, it helps to visually create sketches to help communicate the look of the film, but on many smaller budget films because of the budget or time constraints it isn’t always possible or only some sketches will be drawn out. Usually bigger budget films will have sketches and models made for the look of the locations.
– by Lee Jameson, Film Education Coordinator
October 18th, 2012 • No Comments