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Episode 118 · 1 month ago

COLLATERAL (2004) with Set Designer Clint Wallace Part One

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Parth and Trent talk Collateral with its set designer, Clint Wallace. They also play Danger Zone a bunch again.

We are Tonight's entertainment. You can't handle the truth, the fire risals pizza time. You're a wizard, Harry. You know? Do you think that's air? You're breathing? Groovy? I don't have friends, Strove sus So, Trent so part Hello, good to see you. It's been a while. We have a podcast here we are. We took a week off, Yeah, Chris Blusa. Do we lose any steam? Um? I choose not to look at the analytics anymore. It only makes me unhappy. Why did we take the week off? We had to record this intro and it was Thanksgiving break, and our schedules got kind of busy, and then Sunday came along and you texted me we should probably record sometime soon, and I said, we are taking the week off. Made the executive decision. Um. I think it's fine. I think we've earned. Our last break was just before doing Jaws summer, and that was just so long ago, you know, haven't we earned? Just this is not enough. So much has happened. Speaking of so much that's happened, there's so much that's been eaten, so much that's been consumed, And I'd like to know what what you have eaten most recently, and maybe I already know the answer to this question. We baked some cookies that we got some from Pillsbury cookie dough that we got from Krauser's, and we made it in the o them and they were so I wanted to make all of them at once, so they was so concentrated on the baking sheet that they all kind of grew into one like collective thing. But once you cut it up, it kind of doesn't make a difference. But good had two of them. Here we are. I'm so frantic that I'm really that we're not doing an episode and that we're just doing the intro because I don't know if you're in the place mentally to record a whole discussion either. No, UM, but I am in a place to tell you what I've been eating most recently. Your part, You're good at that. UM. I went into New York to do my internship at thunder Road Pictures Go see John before everybody, UM. And while I was there, I bought two slices of pizza, normal pizza, normal Pizza. I it was. It was kind of funny because it was like an Italian like these these were they had like New York accents and they were like talking like I'm a fucking New Yorker like like, and it was like, whoa, you actually talk like that. That's that's interesting. I mean, I guess that's why people do the accents is yeah, um, but yeah, that's what I've been eating. Do we do you have any other things to say? Do we just cue the intro? Or yeah? No, let's go...

...to the part of part where we talking about the movie of the week this week on our show, kill the intro? Did you like that voice? I did? Part? We've really been reduced to too much by this point. Welcome back to Craft Services, where we talk about the movies. Each week we talked about a film and hopefully have a crew member of that film to talk with us about their experience working onto the picture. This week we are talking about We are talking with Clint Wallace about Michael Mann's Collateral and he was the set decorator. Yeah, yes, yep. And we also talked about some other cool movies he worked on, like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, john Wick Chapter three, Parabellum, Top Gun, Maverick, and of course our filmed for today, Michael Mann's collateral, Yes, and I wish I could tell you what we talked about specifically in this episode, given that this is a two parter, but I have not yet edited this episode while we are recording this intro. I'm sorry to say so. For for current recording Trenton Park, it's as much of a surprise as what you're going to listen to as future listener, um, you know what I mean that, or well, current listener for you, but future for us. But we're past for you, but current for us right now. It makes you think, I'm thinking, Yeah, no, you think you're a thinker. That's what they call you that, that's what they say about you. Right part, we're really in the meat of cruise a palooza. Jeez, I'm feeling the heat. You're feeling what are you? Is the heat the only thing you feel. I'm feeling a lot of things. You're not feeling a need. No, I'm feeling some needs, a need for what everything's been, you know, a little slow and uh, I'm just looking for some speed and not not in the way the bad way in up here. Listen to how in um in our last discussion and our Magnolia discussion in the intro part. Remember when I was away from Mike getting my vodka cran and you sang like episode but you're sang like two of your songs to completion and I left it all on the edit. Did you really intentionally? Yeah? I know it's the comic timing that is humorous edits well, I guess just speaking of humor, said it's let's just edit right into this interview because it's a good one. You know, Clint Wallace queues A's and this is the last...

...interview we recorded for this year, did we? And so we just did the switchero the why put collateral before world? The world just said curious. I just did him in release order, mm hmm. So making Olia, that's just like the secret science, secret sauce behind the science. You know, there's lots of sauces going on, cooking the sausage. How the sausage science gets in and if there's one thing about craft services, it's a sausage fest, you know, Yes, and no, I don't want to be known for that. Yeah. No, the words of my mouth and I wasn't very happy with them. Well, but you know whose words we were happy with? Clint Wallace's hence hence the interview. Um, yeah, so I think we should just like we should not prolong the suffering, going through stalling, Yeah, stalling, stalling, sorry, stating, stalling. Jordan's stalling. Oh stalling? Is that friend of the show. Jordan's scaphoos in the background. Wait from the Nope discussion, the very same you, guys, No, it can't be here. Wait, can't stalling the episode? Are you stalling? Stalling? Stalling? Dont dont, dont don you're the introp pounce rubbing. They listened to her house. You need a Hello, everybody, and welcome to our interview with Clint Wallace. He's worked on such films as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, john Wick, Chapter Three, Pair of Bellum, and Top Gun Maverick, and as well as our film for today, Michael Mann's Collateral. Thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you guys, and props to you guys for putting this together. I think, um, it's, you know, a good lesson for for young filmmakers to realize. You know, you can reach out to people, and you know people like to talk about their selves. So I'm sure like it's impressive. The list of people that you've had on so far. But it's good to take the initiative and do that something I wish I would have done more of as a young person. The main lesson to be learned is how many successful people's emails are just their first initial last name at Gmail, and you can just kind of cold call them and they respond just surprising.

Yeah, the response is the most interesting thing because sometimes like, how did you find me? I'm too famous for you? Yeah, but then they do it anyway. So to start off, I guess, just what was your relationship with film, like at a young age? So I would say, and I'm sure not the only one to probably say this, but Star Wars was a big one for me. I am old enough that I saw it in the theaters in the original release in nineteen seventy seven, seventy six, you know, in Seattle, lined up around the block to see it. And um, after that, I was, you know, buying all the making of books, the art of Star Wars, how they made the land speeders levitate with the mirrors and all the miniatures and um, so you know, and I was in art, kid, I was into art, So that was definitely um an influence and I also think, you know, early on, I kind of knew I was interested in making environments and creating alternate worlds for other people. It was something from Halloween Mazes or whatever it was. And so like Disneyland, I was, I was. I was a big fan of and Walt Disney. Um, there was the show called The Wonderful World of Disney showed all these uh some good, some bad Disney films in the in the late seventies. And would watch that religiously every Sunday night. So that kind of world building was always, uh, you know, a big influence for me. And um a funny side note, you know, I now live in Los Felas and Los Angeles, and I live on the street that Walt and Roy grew up on and they bought their first house. And I found later in the house that I bought that there are these weird little Mickey mouse door knobs and things, and leaned into the history and realized Walt Disney owned our house. The house sexually slid down in the northwards earthquake in but the foundation is still there and the old bricks and so just kind of a trip to think of, you know, being a kid from Seattle, and then living in Walt Disney's house, Walt Disney's house, and then also being employed by Disney with all the Marvel films. You know, the Disney's have come full circle. Yeah, paid a fair amount of my salary along the way. So predating Disney, how did you first find yourself on set in any capacity? So so, like I said, so I grew up in Seattle, and this was not cool Seattle like as...

...now. There was no Nirvana, there was no Pearl you know whatever, Grunge, there was no Amazon, there was no Microsoft. It was it was a Boeing town that both my parents worked for. And so I never considered film as you know, even a real thing. Never really even crossed my mind, even though I loved movies and I was into it um. But I went for a more kind of practical route and got a degree in architecture, so undergraduate and math and art and then graduate degree in architecture at U C l A. And and so I was really committed to architecture. And when I went to school there was a really exciting time in architecture. We had you know, Frank, Gary Sahahaded, Danniel Leipskin, all as professors Tom Maine as professors or a lectures and like you know, those were my heroes and that's who I wanted to be, like changing the face of architecture. So im you know, I worked for a firm, I got my license. I was there for a number of years, and then a buddy of mine who went to school with me, who is now a very successful production designer, said hey, why don't you come join me on this film on Pluto Nash. So that was in and I came on in a kind of weird capacity. Um. I was lucky that it was this this transitional time and art departments where the computer was starting to be introduced in three D modeling, which was a novel thing, and so I had that skill set and so they kind of brought me on as a computer specialist, three D specialist, um. And that kind of pushed me also into because there was only a handful of guys at the time that we're doing it, So that pushed me into the kind of bigger film trajectory that I ended up on, because only bigger films would need us or would afford us. So, like you know, science fiction like Serenity and Pirates of the Caribbean and Men in Black and all the Marvel movies. Um, that kind of was was was my door in Um but my joke, you know, I tell everybody as I never wanted to do film. I thought I thought film was kind of slumming it. You know, Architecture was a more noble profession and um, you know that's that's real and film was something that you know, it wasn't. But you know, my perspective has certainly changed on that, especially after designing restaurants that no longer exist. Um. You know, a lot...

...of architecture is not very permanent. It gets remodeled or destroyed. And film, you know, like Pirates of the Caribbean, it's it lives on forever. So so yeah, so Pluto Nash. I'm also very proud that it's known as one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. And that was my first movie. Uh so I wear that as a badge of honor for sure. But I met a lot of good people and there were a lot of amazing talented people, and I was definitely hooked after doing that. Uh. And then that led to Collateral, Uh not long after. You know, I know we're going to talk about and that kind of led me down the path. Yeah, I was gonna I was gonna ask. Actually, my next question was going to be how you came to be involved with Collateral and how you got involved with that production team. So what's funny is um on Pluto Nash I did that and then there was kind of a dry spell a little bit and I and I sent out randomly like a little portfolio of this is what I do with computer modeling in the three D world, And like two or three years later, I got a call from David Wascoe, the amazing production designer on Collateral, and he had held onto this packet for like three years and um and gave me a call, so it actually could actually paid off. So um, I yeah, it was was hired on that as a set designer. You know, it was early in my career, so you know, well before I was into production design, so I had, you know, a somewhat limited role on that, but certainly a lot of exposure to everything. Um And you know, David was like one of the first I've been really lucky that I've got to work with some of the top production designers in the business. You know, David did all Wes Anderson's early film Spot a Rocket and Rushmore. He did Clinton Tarantino Killed Bill, won the Academy Award for La La Land and I'm still friends with him to this day. Very nice guy. And you know along the way, you know Rick Heinrichs and pirates to the Heribbean. Don Bird is the guy that got me in the business, that got me in the Union. Who is David Fincher's designer, and that I did Benjamin Button with, and a couple other Fincher projects and and but Welsh, I did Men in Black with who did you know? Edward Scissor Hands and Beetle Juice and Men in Black and amazing. So I've been really lucky starting with David that I was exposed to all these super way more talented than me people. I'm curious before...

...we dive into collateral, how whether or not your architecture background is more or less applicable to film set life than you thought it would be. Definitely, um, you know, I think it's it was an advantage for me to have that kind of technical knowledge coming in and and a lot of our departments liked that idea. Again, it was another you know, avenue in coming in as a licensed architect because understanding structure, really understanding how things go together, you know, that's always, uh a valuable skill set when it comes to the construction side of things. You know, so many complaints you get from the construction department as people really don't know how to build. They don't know you know, they'll draw a pretty picture, but they really don't know how it goes together. So um, so that that was an advantage and again kind of enabled me to work on bigger projects, like big, big, huge builds that involved you know, structure and more than just uh, you know, one by three flats you know in a room. So you were talking about the great directors that you've worked with and collateral structed by Michael Mann and I was wondering did you have a lot of if any like communication with him or were you mostly just talking to production designer David Bosco. Yeah, we definitely had interaction with with with Michael. You know, it's no secret that that Michael is not the easiest director in the world. That and he has reputations. So if Michael's listening, I'm sure he's not offended. Uh, but um yes, he's we hope he's listening. He's He's definitely a perfectionist and um, you know, known for doing thirty or forty takes, uh you know, known for kind of exacting on every detail. So it definitely made it a challenging project, a rewarding project. Um. But you know, as I've gone through my career and worked with a lot of amazing directors who don't work that way, you kind of realize that, you know, hey, everybody has their own process, and Michael's made amazing movies, and you know, I feel very lucky and privileged that I gotta work on what I consider the last good Michael Man movie that he's made, uh in in the last few years. So it works for him, but it definitely, Um, I think there's an evolution in film, which is nice to see that that kind of a tour director, tough on everybody role. I just see a lot us of that now, you know. I just...

...worked with, you know, all these amazing Marvel directors, with Sam Rainey and Strange, with John Watson, Spider Man with uh, you know, Chloe Jao on Onternals and Deston Kritin on Shanties and all you know, very nice, you know, a very different approach, more collaborative, more um kind of you know, more open to the whole team collaborative process. So yeah, so like one one example I could I could point out on uncollateral um and there's a few, but uh, we were coming up with the design for the for the cab top, the ad that's on top of the cab, and we knew this would be a very important element because the cab is half the movie. Um. And you know, Michael was super demanding about just what was the color the paint and the tints of the pain and had to have a particular blue in it. And so our portagraphic designer did like over a hundred different cleared ads, had a whole book of all these ads for Michael to choose from, and the day before shooting he decided he didn't like any of them, and he ripped bacardiad out of a magazine and said I want this, which was not cleared, of course, so I don't know what legal did to clear that, who knows, uh, But we had to create it like the night before and printed. There wasn't even time to print, you know, at a print shop. So I had one of those big, large HP printers, So we printed it in house on that on paper and slapped it up there and that's what you see, you know, in the movie throughout. I wanted to ask, I mean, the movie is a very Los Angeles movie and a lot of scenes are just Jamie Fox and Tom Cruise driving around it night. I was wondering, did you have to dress Los Angeles or were you guys kind of just because it's in the present day allowing it to just be what it was. No, there's lots of dressing. I'm sure as you know talking to other designers that the location is never a location. You know, you're you're always modifying in some way. You're you're changing graphics, you're cleaning up like you know, there was a lot of murals that that which is prominent in the film. So we were, you know, Michael, like a mural somewhere and we'd have to paint a whole mural like on the on one of the gas stations and then or um so every and then every location. You know, there was multiple obviously multiple locations like when the body falls on the car, you know, one was you know, there was an exterior, then there was a different alley for you know, the other shot and it's all kind of stitched together, so um, you know, yeah, yeah, there...

...was definitely lots of modifications. Um, yeah, the the whole you know, it's it's I think one of the best portrayals of Los Angeles at night. And it was very intentional to find locations that were unique, that's not stuff you'd seen before, that showed l A in a very different way. Um. And it was there were really no storyboards on the movie. As I recall, it was our location manager, who was Michael kind of has this mafia group that it's like his New York Mafia group of his his circle, and one of them is this guy and he's been with him for years and he's the location manager. But he also kind of did these visual storyboards, so he's he kind of went out and shot and kind of you know, stitch it together in a kind of storyboard kind of way of you know, the progression of the movie and the progression through the evening of how that goes. So that that was a unique angle on you know, coming up with the look. But you know, there was lots of scouting, um that I was not a part of, with Tom being involved and um all that. So I guess I'm just curious about like the logistics of having a movie that involves so much like open driving and how that works with like resetting and stuff. So are they just like driving in a circular route for every take? And are they on a trailer and our streets closed? Yeah? Um? And again because I was not the productive designer of the art director in this, I was less involved. But um, yes, you you closed the you locked the street down. And I know there were tons of cars, tons that. I think there were seventeen cabs something like that that were built for that, and and some cabs had you know, they removed the engine and they put a camera rig. Like when they wanted to get a two shot of Jamie and Tom uh from the windshield, they had a special rig for that that was outside. Then they had different ones for getting side shots. They had different ones for um you know all that. So, um, yeah, there was all different kinds of vehicles they were used depending on the shots. And yes, sometimes you yeah, you you come up with uh you allow you have to always think about allowing for a loop. So uh, you know, vehicles when whenever you're doing a movie, it's something something to think about. You've got to make sure they so you don't have to back them up and they can come around the block and do it again. It's like Jaws. There's a left to right shark and a right to left shark. So one of the sets that I was interested in...

...was the scene where Jimmie Fox and Talkers go into the jazz room. If you could talk about designing that or working on that, yeah, that was my set. Actually I designed that, that set um Uh, and it was based on I think it's called Fever, and we used the exterior which is in Koreatown in Los Angeles, and we did our own version of it on stage. And I know not to talk too much smack on Michael, but I do. I do remember another um story where I think we're shooting on a Monday and Michael came in the set on a Friday, and there were all these kind of bands built into the set, kind of reflective. It was, you know, this highly reflective. We wanted to, you know, make it um dark but reflective. So you got a lot of kick and and and it had definitely a sinister, you know, Korean vibe a little bit. So there were these like bands with the silver accents built into it, and I remember I think he wanted the bands moved like three inches up, and so they had to rebuild the whole set that weekend and move like the bands three inches up for like shooting on Monday. To clarify, is this the nightclub or the jazz Oh no, this is a nightclub. Sorry, yeah, you're talking about We're gonna ask about that anyway. Yeah, yeah, No, that's the nightclub. No, no, you're talking about the jazz where the guys um um yeah shot yeah, yeah yeah, and they had Yeah, that was a location. Yeah, that was not a built. The nightclub was a built because you know, we had so much destruction in that, so so the the jazz club was a location. So are I mean you said that like the that that was your set and is it like there will be five set dressers and they're all given like one specific set and then that's like your baby and then you just like you do mostly that but help out a little bit also on other stuff. Or how does I guess how is the division? How's the division of labor? I guess that's my question. Yeah. As a set designer, um, yeah, yeah, you're typically assigned a set, So you know, set designers assigned a couple of sets. Art director manages the supervising art director manages everything, and then production designer you know, is on top of that and is responsible not just for all that and locations, but you know being also uh you know, I know, as you've talked to other designers, it's all about the entirety of the look of the film. So everything props you know, uh, you know a little bit of costumes and and and set dressing. And the one other thing we've learned through production designers is that you're always designing next thing, and that you're rarely on set watching your lass.

You're we're very rarely on set watching your last bill to be shot if you're working on the next thing, which is a great which is a good lesson for anybody who wants to go into production design. When you have a heavy night shoot like Collateral was, the beauty of being a production designer is you just show up, open the set and then you don't have to stay up all night with the crew. So, you know, I'm doing a movie now and we're I'm in Bulgaria doing a movie and we're shooting a lot of nights and the crew is exhausted. We just turn around to days. And you know, luckily I stay on a on a day schedule because the nights I'll have to Our crew calls at like seven thirty or eight, and I'll show up and open the set. But then I get to sleep in my bed while they work all night and in the rain. Is opening the set just literally like unlocking the door and like talking to the property owner or whatever and just being like, you guys are good to go, get in there, let's go shoot the movie. Uh no, no, it's it's it's walking the director through a set. So whether it's location or a build, um, you know, you you walk with the director and hopefully you've walked with the director prior to that, but you know you're there for any last minute adjustments or says, hey, I don't think this is working, like let's swap out this artwork or I need this here. So you're there for those last minute, you know, changes and making sure it's uh you know what, because you know movies are you really don't see a set in its final form until just the instant before it's being shot. For the most part, you know, that's not fully dressed, fully lit, which is always a challenge on a movie that you're you know, picking pink colors and designing without having the DP fully light this set until you until he turns the lights on and you really see it in the proper lighting and you see it through the lens more importantly, Yeah, you know, you you the eye is very deceiving. You know, you always have to you know, be thinking through the lens and how what what you're actually going to see, you know, on camera. Until you mentioned it, I never thought about it. It was collateral. Like all night shoots, it was pretty much all night so it was brutal, you know, it was. It was brutal awesome, Yeah, yeah, I think And sometimes even when you're shooting on stage, like when we did that nightclub scene, you know, you would stay with the night um shooting schedule because it doesn't make sense to turn over the crew to shoot during day, even though you certainly could shoot it during the day, because you'd have to reactulimate everyone's bodies, I would imagine. Yeah,...

So that's always a tricky one. That's I don't know how many first A d s you've talked to, but you know, that's a really tough job on a movie of figuring out scheduling days, nights, crew extras. You know, it's it's a massive logistical you know. I'm I'm it's it's a tough job and I'm always very impressed with what first a d s have to pull off. Part Jordan's it wasn't a great Interview with Clint Wallace Part one. I love Clint Wallace. I loved Tom Bruce and the movie. I don't know, didn't his hair looks so silly bomb I've think we talked about that. Oh yeah, we do talk about that, or maybe that was a before air thing just just to break the ice with Glint wos. Yeah, this is part one of our talk with Clint Wallace. Part two comes out next week. There's some good stories some other movies that he's worked on. I mean, like we said, we still don't know. Yeah, actually I just I guess I'm just assuming, you know, because I don't really remember. But Trent, before we tell people to go follow us on social media, go to like review us on Apple, spot Apple, podcast, Spotify, um, and tell us to their friends and everything. Before we do that, UM, I have a funny story to tell you, and it relates to what what happened at my internship today. Well, not really so much about my internship. So today when I was at New York Penn Station and I was waiting for the TV to tell what track the train was boarding up. Um, I was waiting and I was like, like, my my balance seems weird, Like what's wrong right now? And then I tried moving around and I was like, is the floor and even? And I looked down. I was wearing two different pairs of shoes. Really, I was literally going to make a joke. I was going to make a joke. And I looked down in like disbelief, and I was like, this is like a cartoon character thing or like a like in a show. They are in a sitcom type of like, but like, I I don't know how I didn't notice it. Similar looking shoes. No, one is black and one is blue. One has Adidas written over it and the other has nothing. Part something's going on? Do you think I'm maybe overworked, maybe maybe tired or does it just have nothing to do with that it was just the silly one off gag. No, I think it's it's a it's a warning sign of a larger issue. Join us next week for part two over discussion with Clint Wallace bangroller, Yes, wait sound the alarm?...

What? Wait? Not the nuclear I don't have the nuclear bomb effect? Bang alert? You don't have the nuclear bomb effect? One? Would I ever use it? Listen to part two of our discussion with Clint Wallace, a decorator of Collateral next week and other movies and other movies. Top Gun Maverick John Wick cap of three parabellum Um parts. Do you like Top Gun Maverick? Did you give a five stars like Top Gun? Maverick? Did you give a five star? Breaking question? Did you move? This will answer for you. I hate that song. I eat it. Sorry, I'm laughing because you were doing that. And as it was happening, Brandon texted in our friend group chat to asking Jordan to pay for her utilities. And now she's sad. I'm not sad. I'm disappointing. You would be like Jordan when angry. Wait, Trent, you often say that to me that you wouldn't like Jordan when she's angry. Know that, like generally it's you wouldn't want to get Jordan angry, But somehow you always managed to Wow, you're really cutting out some real issues. So that was just supposed to be a joke, but I felt some real tension there that was interesting. Maybe we should talk about that always here. Let's talk about it on the next week's episode, Part two. How's that? How's that sounds good? Do you want to tell the people where they can find us on the Instagram craft services uh and also on Twitter, Craft Services pod, Apple Podcast, Apple podcast, Spotify. Write a review five stars, Tell a friend, enjoy yourself. You seem really into this recording and that's what I love about you. Committed. Sorry,.

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