“Production designer has to follow director’s vision and film genre”
In the online segment of the first-ever hybrid edition of the International Film Festival of India, Prof. Ujjwal Gawad, Professor at FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) shared his insights into the production design, the visual art and craft of cinematic storytelling, at a online session on “Production Design – A World Building for Films”.
Prof. Gawad emphasized the importance of script in the process. “For every production designer, the script of the film is the bible, Production designer gets his leads from script only and the main reference is the script.”
He said that the look and style of motion picture is created by imagination, artistry and collaboration of the director, director of photography and the production designer. “Production designer must know how to gel with the director, director of photography and the writer. Production designer has to follow the vision of director and the film genre. He/she has to collaborate with VFX designer, with costume designers as they follow the same colour palette, and with sound designer, if sync sound recording needs to be done.”
The professor introduced the meaning and history of production design. “A production designer is responsible for integrating the script with the director’s vision for the film and translating it into physical environments in which the actors can develop their characters and present the story.” The production designer emerged in 1939, when producer David O. Selznick (an American film producer, screenwriter and film studio executive) gave this title to William Cameron Menzies for his work on Gone with the Wind. He does not only set and décor, but storyboard, colour, style, short design, framing and composition as well. As a result of his extraordinary vision, William Cameron Menzies is recognised as the father of production design.
Prof. Ujjwal said that production design is a narrative tool. “It has the ability to create a world where narrative and action take place. It brings more interest and more authenticity to a set. It leads our imagination and draws us into a world, which includes architecture, colour, space, shape, texture, visual metaphors and visualisation of screenplay”.
He explained these tools with clips from the movie The Shape of Water.
While answering the questions from audience he said that film is a synthetic and combination of art; it is not compulsory to have institutional training.
He mentioned John Myhre (Chicago), Brian Morris (Pirates of the Caribbean), Nitish Roy, Snigdha Basu, Aradhana Seth and Suzanne Caplan Merwanji (Gully boy) as some of his favourite production designers.
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