Backstage Interview: PRODUCTION DESIGN

Backstage Interview: PRODUCTION DESIGN

INTERVIEW WITH: Patrice Vermette (Production Design); Zsuzsanna Sipos (Set Decoration)

FILM: "DUNE"

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          Q.    Hi.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  Hello.

                She decided on the Oscar; I decided on the champagne.

                Priorities.

 

          Q.    Hi.  [FOREIGN LANGUAGE].

          A.    (Patrice Vermette) Oh, my God [FOREIGN LANGUAGE].

 

          Q.    So I guess third time's a charm for you, Patrice.

                Congratulations for this statute.

          A.    Merci.

 

          Q.    And, if I asked you what this prize mean to you today and if

                you are -- and if you have special thought to someone, what

                would you say?

          A.    (Patrice Vermette) Well, I know exactly what you're talking

                about because my best friend passed away on Christmas day.  And

                I would say, "Jean-Marc, thank you because you believed in me

                very early on in my career.  In 1995, we started working

                together.  And I miss you every day and -- God.  I wish you

                would be here today to see this because we're best buddies.

                So, Jean-Marc, this is for you."

                And what was the other question?

 

          Q.    What does this prize mean to you today --

          A.    The prize --

 

          Q.    -- at this point in your career?

          A.    Well, I have to go back to when I was a very young kid.  I was

                like watching the Oscars with my parents.  I was -- ever since

                I can remember, like, Oscar Sunday was extremely important in

                our household.  And I was, like -- it was coming from Montreal.

                It was something that -- it was totally unattainable.  It was

                just the holy grail of cinema.  It was just -- and to be here

                today, I am extremely -- I feel -- I feel, um, I feel -- I -- I

                feel I am extremely lucky because in my path I've met extremely

                talented people who believe in me.  And I had great teams who

                supported me.  And you know, it's -- I -- I -- it's the

                pinnacle of, you know, 30 years, 32 years of work.

                But yeah, it's -- I still don't believe that I'm going to have

                this at my house.

                Probably my wife will be doing her exercise, morning exercises

                with it as a weight or -- but -- what can I say?  It's quite --

                it's quite incredible.  [FOREIGN LANGUAGE].

 

          Q.    I would like to ask you as a Canadian, how do you feel about

                the Canadian community that is in Hollywood?  We don't have

                Hollywood in Canada.  You know that.  How do you feel about the

                presence of Canadian talent?

          A.    We don't have Hollywood in Canada --

          Q.    I know.

          A.    -- but, just like Hungary, we have a lot of creativity.  And I

                think -- I think that is an amazing gift that our communities

                have.  Both countries like Hungary and Canada doesn't have the

                same budget as we do -- as in the United States.  And we are

                trained to work with very little, work on shoestring budgets.

                And when we get the chance and with the privilege to work on

                such a big production, I think it pays off.  And I think that's

                -- that's -- that's a testament -- how do you say that -- to

                the Canadian film industry and Hungary film industry as well.

                And, actually, also, I just finished working on a movie in

                Australia.  And we're working with a Hungarian DP.  And, again,

                that guy, I was looking at him work.  And the tricks that he

                has, it's, like, wow.  Like, he's working -- he's used to

                working on shoestring budgets.  And, then, he creates amazing

                images.  So I think it is a tribute to working with nothing and

                being creative.

 

          Q.    I am here, I write for Hungary.  You probably know my name.

                This is a huge recognition for the Hungarian film industry and

                a huge shout out to Adam Goodman for running this ship so

                flawlessly.

                        How do you feel now -- I have a three-parter.  How do

                you feel now?  Are you going to be back for DUNE 2?  And what

                was the greatest challenge of designing for DUNE?

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  I feel surreal.  It's really unbelievable.

                And, yes, I will be back for DUNE 2.

                And I don't remember the third question.  Sorry.  What is the

                third question?

          Q.    (No response.)

 

          Q.    Hello.  Mighty congrats to you both.  Well deserved.  My

                question is for both of you.

                        What were some of your favorite sets or scenes to work

                on?

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  All of them.  But I think the favorite

                thing was to -- it was a challenge to create different worlds

                and different planets.

                And the challenge was two things.

                First one was it's a cherished book by Denis Villeneuve, our

                leader, who taught us that fear is a mind killer.  And he

                encouraged us to dream.  So dreaming about those three planets

                was an amazing journey.

                And the most interesting things I -- the most challenging thing

                was to give Denis what he dreamed in his head to make it real

                and, also, at the same time to be aware that there's a huge fan

                base of -- of the book of Frank Herbert's writings.  So we

                needed to be true to -- to that.  So we -- so that was

                challenging to make sure that we would not be thrown the bricks

                at us when the movie was released.  And, yeah, that's kind of a

                challenge.

 

          Q.    Yes.  I'm not sure I got your answer right.  The greatest

                challenge on designing for Dune, what was that?

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  Um, a tough question.  I mean, I don't know.

                I mean -- the greatest challenge -- I mean, it's a hard

                question to answer.  I mean, I really enjoyed all of it.  And

                there were challenges in it, but all of them were, you know,

                good.  So they didn't really stress.  I mean, we had a bit of

                stress throughout the show, but it was really -- I really

                enjoyed it.  I can say that it was one of my best experience

                ever.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  If I can -- if I may?

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos) Sure.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  It's funny because it was such a

                collaborative effort between all departments.  It was very

                little of drama.

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  Yes.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  And it was -- being collaborative.

                Everybody had their doors open.  So when we needed the other

                department, we had questions -- it was quite an extraordinary

                experience.  Just on that level of collaboration between VFX,

                cinematography, costumes, hair and makeup, the Baron, and the

                suit.  And how to make everything fit together, it was -- it

                was kind of a no-ego show.

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  No.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  So --

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  I think that for everyone.  It was one of

                their best experiences.  This was a great show to do.  I

                really, really enjoyed.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  And I met her.

 

          Q.    If I may ask one more question.

                        How do you feel now that you won BAFTA, the Critics

                Choice.  The -- I think you won one more, the production

                designer awards you won and now the Oscars.

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  He won that.

 

          Q.    You -- you got everything.

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  We won it together.

 

          Q.    I know you did.

          A.    (Zsuzsanna Sipos)  So, but -- yeah, I mean, I am really honored

                to be in the staff of the many talented Hungarians.  I mean,

                there were many from Hungary who established -- basically,

                established in studios here in Hollywood, like, George Forenzo

                (phonetic) and Altman (phonetic).

                And, you know, I hope it will open doors for many people who

                don't believe that they can achieve what I have achieved.  But

                I still -- it's hard to digest.  But I'm proud.  And thank you.

 

          Q.    Hi, I know that Egyptian pyramids is one of the influences,

                perhaps.  I would like to know how it is more than just

                architectural, but also steeped in symbolism as well.  And if

                you can be specific.

          A.    (Patrice Vermette)  You mean about the Egyptian pyramids or --

                there was a lot of influence in the design of DUNE.  And the

                first influence came from the book.  Because Frank Herbert

                writes that on this planet of Arrakis the wind blows at 850

                kilometers an hour.  There is sand worms.  There is heat,

                unbearable heat, and sunlight.

                So the design of the movie was, basically, a response to the

                elements and the realities of that planet as -- you know,

                architecture and design should always be -- and -- and -- and,

                obviously, the pyramid is angular, but there is -- there is

                more -- there is more to it.

                There was -- the influence that I had was Ziggurat

                architecture.  It was also Mayan, Aztec architecture.  There

                was also Brutalism architecture, but mostly Brutalism from

                South America from Brazil.  And all of that was to respond to

                the book first of all.

                We are talking about Colonialism in a foreign planet.

                Colonialism in a country.  So Colonialism always wants a show

                of force.  So that's where the Brutalism influence came from.

                That's why the size and scale of all sets came from.  And the

                angularity because of the wind, you would never build anything

                straight on that planet.  Everything should sweep over the

                buildings and, you know, so -- so there was a lot of

                architectural influence for the size of the walls.  But, yes,

                Egyptian architecture was part of it.

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