Sounder SIGN UP FOR FREE
Craft Services
Craft Services

Episode 42 · 1 year ago

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH (2021) with Production Designer Sam Lisenco

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Parth and Trent talk with Production Designer Sam Lisenco about his work on Judas and the Black Messiah. They also seem a little bit closer to each other than usual... 

Edited by Parth Marathe

It. So part. What have you been eating, Trent? Thanks for wait. Trent, you seem something CLO sir, seem a little different. It's almost like we're looking at each other in the eyes. Yeah, like eye contact is there. Is there something different about our recording today, Trent? I'd say there's an additional level of human connection and maybe a little bit of like pep and our step or you know, sparkle in our voices. Yeah, so, in case you feeble minded listeners haven't figured out thus far, Trent and I are doing an in person recording for the first time ever since doing this podcast. You know what they say, if you're going to start a podcast, wait until you're forty. Two episode instant and before you ever you know, meet each other. facetoface. Part I haven't seen Trent in fourteen months. Yeah, we saw a movie in person the other day, we sure did. We saw Scott Pilgrim in theaters for its tent anniversary. Dolby Vision, audio, addition, whatever. Yeah, I thought it'd be an Imax and then afterwards you explained to me that it wasn't. Yeah, sorry about that. It's okay. But but Trent, what I what have you been eating? Have you eaten anything? Yeah, did. I just let you into my home, since I'm in your childhood home. I was. I was never granted access to soda as a child, and so you offered me a root beer and I was like, and I'm twenty years of age, but I have to start to lash out eventually. So I'm I'm caffeinated and I took some of your little brothers lunch box like hockey's. And, if you can't tell, I'm firing on all cylinders, like my blood is pumping full of soda and Talkies. What about you? Thanks for asking, Trent. Wait, for the first time, I know the answer because I watched you consume this item just moments ago. What did I have? Wait, oh, yeah, Alexa. Has I had? I had guava ice cream. Oh Heavens really, I know it's an it's a surprise for Trent, but yeah, my mother, after I showed Trent around my childhood is Blue Ray collection. Yeah, I showed them, showed them around town and we were hot and sweaty and my mom offered us some ice cream, some Guaba flavored ice cream. Yeah, she said, do you want some hot peppers on top? I said, well, she wasn't it's not like pep. She was not always talking about like Red Chili flakes. Yeah, will not flakes, like like Chili Pepper, like like red powder. M It goes well with it. I just didn't want it at that moment. Do you want to? Can We? Should we start? Yeah, it's just going to rose word just I was just like we want to do the episode. I guess you're all in my house, so we should probably cut to the intro. Welcome back to craft services. Where what do we talk about? Trent, our show. This is the we have a podcast. It's about the movies. Each week we talk about a film and hopefully have a crew remember that worked on that film to talk with us about their experience working on that picture. This week we're talking about what are we talking about? Trent, Judas in the Black Messiah. Who Do we have to talk about it? Trent, the production dot designer. Sam. Let's think. Wait, what's he nice? I loved him. Yeah, wasn't it like, excuse my French, but like a fat our twenty Convo? It was. Is that? Is that how the hip hop children are talking these days? Is Let to say that again. Trent Street Lingo. Yeah, no, it was. I don't remember how long it is after I edited it, but yeah, we talked with him for a good hour and a half. We am wait, I forget. He worked on you know, good time and I'm cut JIM's and prints to write. Not just us in the Black Messiah, he also worked on the first Frances. Ha. Wait, you said you said Frances how to and I oh, I'm Otio. That's okay, that's sort of comed. I mean, I know we said at the beginning this is a movie podcast, but as you can't, if you can't tell, part is slowly trying to transition us into a comedy podcast for I've been told, on funny. So he has our interview. Guys, we hope you enjoy it. We hope you enjoy the interview by well, we'll see. We'll see. You will sell see you during the interview. It will just be past tense us. Yeah, I mean we recorded this like a month that. This was month. This, this was April. Trend part who just kids back then? But then at the end of episode, if you if you manage to stick around, you'll get a little additional taste of current treaten part. Hello everybody, and welcome to our interview with Sam Listenco. He's production designer that's worked on movies such as uncut gems, if feel street talk, Frances Haw, and our films for today, Shocka, Kings Judas in the Black Messiah. Thanks so much for being here. Pleasure, really happy to be here. So we just want to start...

...off by just asking what your relationship with movies was as a kid. That's a great question. I was sort of raised on the fringe of the business to a certain extent. My my father for many years found moderate success as a commercial and television actor, doing bit character work and you know, commercial commercial work paid the bills, but it wasn't super frequent stuff and it gave me a little bit of a window, of a really young agent, into the world, enough that when I was twelve, thirteen, fourteen, I used to do extra work so that I could take off from school and I didn't have any preconceding notions I want to be an actor, anything but but it was it was a great opportunity to make a little scratch and not have to go to class and then, as I got older, a sort of parlayed that into a job at a casting agency when I was in high school doing extras casting, and the upshot of that was that I primarily was the one who would videotape actors coming into read and be the person who was reading off camera with them. So oftentimes I would get access to filmmakers because I'd have to talk to them about what they were trying to get out of actors coming in for the cold read, and and found that I had enough of an understanding of how to communicate with directors that I thought maybe something behind the camera was something I wanted to pursue. So I read that you went to be you and you said You'd film there and that I know that's where you met the Safti's and such. But from your curricular activities, what would you say was here take home message from four years of Film School? Well, it was a tricky time for film school because they didn't my chosen field wasn't yet taught even as an elective. I had no I graduated from film school with a degree that I'm wildly appreciative of and formulated not just my experience working with the Safti's and coming up in film school with Josh in particular, but but I came out of film school with a degree that gave me an understanding of how to approach cinema from a technical perspective that I am wildly appreciative of and and an understanding enough of film history to Wax Poetic with people who are obsessed with deep cut cinema. For sure. You know my junior and senior years I was I was writing forty page papers on like post new wave good our video work, like I was. I was in the trench. But now there is much more of an understanding of individual artismal skill sets applied to the craft, like individual trades that are that are being approached in film school be and I only know this because I've gone back to guest lecture, guest lecture in scenarios where I was a b student, and now I'm being asked to talk about productions on because there were such a lack of understanding what that was at the time. So it's kind of a roundabout answer the question, but I think the shifting dynamic is given me a pre appreciation for what it was at that moment. It was a very transitional time and we were still editing on steam decks and at and at the time. We I think we were the last graduating class, Josh and me, because Benny is a year younger. We're the last graduating class to record audio on Naugaret tape and have to transfer it over on real to real and so we because we were the transitional generation. What we would do is secretly, we would all because it's very, very hard to edit audio on a steam deck, especially when you're stoned and have been eating Taco Bell for three days and you have you got to turn the thing in at six am or whatever. But what we would do is we'd import all the audio into final cut and then edit our audio and final cut and then re export back to Nondra tapes that we could bring it in. And then, I remember kids would like literally start cutting up the NAUGRE and taping it back together so it looked like we had done all our audio editing on the table. But an actuality we were we were already embracing computers. So so I think I think it's I think film schools dramatically shifted so much that it's not an apt comparison now to what it was at that moment. So when you, when you got out of film school, like what was your first real job in the industry? I we didn't have any. Josh and Josh and I talked very forcefully about the fact that we knew we wanted to live in Manhattan. We knew we were going to try to scrimp and save and share a little apartment, and our first apartment was like dorm room size. It was it was petite and we knew we needed to get a like a creative space where we could make shit and figure out how to pay the rent making shit. That was our biggest priority. So we started a kind of on this hunt of like okay, let's do day jobs. We were working for the artist Tom Sacks in his studio. I...

...was like wood burning his his his sculptural pieces and then taking what at whatever crappy PA work I could. There's a couple of credits I have on IMDB for just like really, really disappointing pictures that I'm like, I'm literally doing and like PA and not not even keep a stuff. I was like whatever, lower than getting coffee would be. I remember. I remember I took a job and I was at the time we are still living. I move back to my parents house. Josh and I hadn't gotten the apartment in East villae yet I'm living my parents house in Brooklyn and they live all the way out and broke, like near the ocean. It's not even Brooklyn anymore. And I took a job driving a box truck, I could barely drive, for this no budget movie, and I remember being so exhausted, being worked so hard for such a little pay, that I would come home crying. And I was so tired that I would drive this truck back to my parents house every night and the roads were empty because it was a three, four in the morning. I'd fall asleep at every red light and put the thing in a park and God knows how long I'd be sleeping. For an hour, ten minutes, thirty eight seconds, I have no idea. I would just I would be awoken by a car behind me honking to let me know that the light was green. Again to a fun time. Yeah, I did, I did. I'm sure it was. It was bad, Dude. I did that for about a year in my like infinite wisdom, thinking like Oh, doing pa work, I'll give me access to the business. Now. Meanwhile, like Josh, Josh and Benny and I were making shorts that were kind of crushing it on the festival circuit, especially Second Tier festivals like and at the you know, south by southwest was very cool at the time, and we were doing stuff of like slam dance. So we were constantly bopping around all these festivals and some of them were prestigious, you know, I remember I had them. I had a maxed out credit card with a student limit that I had used for air fare to can because we had our first feature and our fur and a short film. We're playing at directors fortnight a can, and then the next day I had to leave a day before everybody else I could fly back to do pay work, where I got yelled at for tying and not incorrectly, and the guy said to me the the the keypa goes. Listen, if you want to make it in this business, you're gonna have to learn how to tie down truck because because you're going to wash out. And Twenty four hours prior I had been on a red carpet in a stolen Tuxedo at the campsons. So I never said anything to the guy, but there was this very strange kind of like daytime nighttime world happening where very luckily, any money's we were making, we were kind of pooling and just making cool stuff that we wanted to make and then, during the day, trying to figure out how we could eat. And it like, when I say how to eat, I literally mean like you know, you see a film set on the street and I would go up to the furthest crew member I could find and say hey, let me borrow your call sheet, and then I would use that. I would have the call sheet like a prop and I would just walk up to catering or craft service and just start stealing food from the film sets and bringing it back to to our office, stuff like that. Like we were I mean we were hustling and we kind of like this is the very long answer, but we kind of started to become this gravitational pull to other people who were in our situation as well, and Lena Dunham started hanging around, and then Greta Gerwig, who we knew from festival, started hanging around, and then when I eventually I moved out of that apartment, I shared an apartment with Gretta and then this other kid, Ariel Shalman, who was an old childhood friends of Josh's, and then Gretta and Lena got a space in the same building on a different floor. So it would became this kind of hive, this downtown hive of kids who couldn't afford rent and had barely enough equipment between them all to help each other with the we with all the short films. So pretty clearly you started on like micro budget, doing like hundreds of shorts with the safty, so I've heard, and then eventually, you know, now you're making real live motion pictures, nominated for Oscars and stuff. So when did when did that start to change, like what was like the big break, so to speak, and how would you say the job of a production designer really starts to change, like with more budget and more flexibility, the the it was never a question of like a dynamic shift where it's like we made it kids. It was more like a collection of fortuitous small choices that over time started to kind of coalesce. So it was like Francis Hall was a big, a big bell weather for me personally, not just because it assured me that I could design a picture as a designer and work in a legitimate sphere, but also because it was kind of one of the major times where I was working with a critical filmmaker outside of the safty world. It was a separate environment, yeah, and a boundback no less. And then I think...

...that that was like that was a big move. And then after that, you know, it's just kind of slipping on banan appeals upwards. Like Barry Levinson had seen Frances hat and was trying to do something of a similar nobudget, non union sphere, and then I wound up doing that with him and that was another movie with Gretta and Alpaccino, and that was legitimate enough for and we got along well enough that he recommended me for this this Jennifer Lopez cop show and NBC, and then all of a sudden, now I'm designing like a real TV show. It was just it was these these correct choices presented themselves in a very lucky way and it was only after I had gathered like my union card and a little legitimacy having done TV and stuff, that I felt comfortable going back to the safty's and saying like look, I'm a real designer. Now at what let's let's actually engage in in bigger stuff and and you know, the budgets kind of punched upwards a little bit too incrementally. It was like this to this things three, three million, then it's done. It's four point two and then it's six, then it's ten. So it was, it was always. It was always just as scary. I think that maybe the realization that I could do this and not be homeless started maybe ten years after college, something like that, where you're not really worried about this month's rent, you're starting to worry about like three months from now's rent, and then you're like, okay, all right, I'm I got I got phone numbers I could call, I got keys I could crash at. You know, very cool. So, jumping forward just a little bit, sure you worked on, obviously, to just in the Black Messiah, and how'd you get involved with that? I was I was working on another film in Los Angeles, California, and I had shipped my car out west for that and and and kind of bumbled around the city for for a number of months on the project and I left my car and I came back to New York I was like Shit, I got to go get my car. So I booked a ticket more of just like a friend trip, and I was going to stay with friends and pick up my car and get it back to the east coast and while I was out there I got a call that Chaka had the script, it was ready to go. They'd been talking to other people. The timing hadn't worked with something else I was on. That fell apart for me and would I be willing to do a look book meet with him? And it's going to start very quickly. And so I did it there in California in my friends poolhouse, like as fast as I could have read the script, I assembled a book and my knowledge base as a child was not Chicago. Obviously it was New York, but I thought that there was enough of a shared esthetic that I pulled imagery that felt right Um and that I had an understanding of, at least internally. And literally. The next day like they were like all right, Chako would love to meet in person, and I walked into the room in is in Hollywood and and he was there with all with the producing pool and the realization that Choku and I grew up just a couple blocks away from each other and had a shared kind of language style and a lot of shared influence growing up and our parents were teachers and that kind of thing. Like it was. It was a parent that we were brethren and and then it was a really good fit because we just we just like talking to each other about it. So it felt right. I think. I think he would say I want I want the movie in the room. He like he knew within ten minutes and and I literally shipped my car back east the next day and went straight on to Cleveland to start prep because that's how close they were to getting ready to go. So I was listening to another interview with you and you're talking about how in gems there was like a wire in the background of the and you like argued about that with Dareius Kanji and I thought that that was very cool. And so, basically, what is your relationship with the DP and how what about Seawan Baba in particular on this film? Hopefully it's a good relationship. It's for me in a very general way. The production designer comes on very often months before the cinematographer starts. A lot of time to cinema cinematographer has been decided, but they're not paying for prep. So I get unfettered access to the filmmaker for an extended period of time and I'm like the first creative person on their team who's there in present and fighting for their vision instead of fighting for the budget. So you have this kind of love affair with this director that that is very passionate over shared ideal of what this thing should be. And then the cinematographer shows up and for me, I love to allow that relationship to blossom because that's their time, that's their time to shine. That's when they got to start doing shot list. That's the when they have to they have to figure out what the what we're in common. They see this world and it also gives me an opportunity to actually fucking go do my work and be left alone and I don't have to talk to the director constantly. So it's a very advantageous moment where the the trust is shifted and I...

...can now fulfill the role of alleviating the directors concerns, like I got this, go go shot list and that can that can create a really great environment with a DP because you're giving them room to have that love affair and by the time I'm ready to come back into the fold, I have answers to their questions about what things look like. I kind of liken it to like, and I've said this before another interviews, I'm sure, but like you know when you when you have when your parents tell you have to take your younger sibling with you to the mall and and you're in the back seat, like I love that, that rationale, because now the director and the cinematographer in the driver's seat, I'm in the back seat like hey, guys, look at that building. That's cool. That that, I think, can be very fortuitous and there was no doubt with Sean Bobbitt that that everything gelled in terms of personalities and what we thought the movie should be and the amount of creative control he was giving me with color and my appreciation for what he wanted to do with light, and it was a very, very fluid experience I did I don't think that there is maybe day one, only, maybe the first day of photography on that movie, where we're still kind of feeling each other out, not just me and him but the whole crew. But there was not a single moment really on that movie where, esthetically we nobody was on the same page. We all kind of knew that the movie was going to look the way pretty much it turned out from day one. So so you hope, you hope that it you hope it's going to be an experience like that. You know, and you have you have these beautiful conversations about like putting lamps in for practical lighting and stuff and and just kind of watch movies the other and stuff. So, because you came on so late, was there like and much designed at all before you came down? Was Not just, you know, they hadn't even settled on what city they were going to shoot in. You know. Yeah, yeah, no, it was. I threaded that needle where was like the last possible moment where designer would come on before anything, before anything had started being so it wasn't just like a race to no, no, we had ample time. Like I got there and then I was I was there prepping the movie for four and a half months or whatever before photography, something like that. But it was like we needed boots on the ground in Cleveland Stat to see if this could work as Chicago kind of thing. Speaking of that, I was just going to ask you had the unique challenge of making one US city look definitively like another nearby us city, and how was it like? TRYING TO DISGUISE CLEVELAND. Yeah, it's it's a little tricky because with period because the responsibility of what you're looking at shifts to a certain extent from the cinematographer to the designer, because I have to spend an exorbitant amount of time saying, guys, it's one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine. You can't look that way. So I think in regards to Cleveland specifically, it provided us with some shit that Chicago no longer has that was period appropriate, based inherently on the disregard for urban renewal in Rust Belt Cities, like sodium vapor lights and stuff coite operated parking meters. The problem with Cleveland inherently is it's not a it's not a metropolis like Chicago is, and so you would constantly have holes in your skyline that you would want to avoid. Even in the hero building, the Black Panther Headquarters building, there's an abandoned lot next to it and Cleveland is permid with abandoned lots because there wasn't the need to build as much. And then over time it has. There has been so much that's been abandoned that it's cheaper to raise. So you had these clusters of areas that look great and then if you if you turn the camera the wrong way, it would it would literally just be three empty lots in a row where the buildings have been demolished at some point. That became the biggest challenge in Cleveland was making it feel like the the the tapestry of the city hadn't been on woven the way the way it actually had. You know. So, just sort of speaking on the period aspect of it all, like what kind of research did you end up doing? And for like clothes and you know, setting and you know, had you get wardrobe and everything that sort of stuff, wardrobe. But yeah, you know, yeah, I know what I mean. Yeah, I mean shout out to Charlie's, the costume designer. She did an absolutely incredible job and I think that my answer to this crash question would probably be similar to her answer to the question, which was that the arm our major thesis in terms of how to approach design for the picture was, rather than make it look like a movie taking place in nineteen sixty nine, we wanted to make it look like a movie that happened to be shot in nineteen sixty nine. which is a very different cinematic approach, I guess. You know, in terms of research for that there you know, hours and...

...hours and hours of library of Congress and wikipedia Google images and pulling references from books and reading the old case files and tough and you start to get this kind of general sense of what esthetic values the Black Panther party had, both in their interior spaces and their garb and their methodology and their speech patterns, and not just the Chicago office but various but Black Panther offices nationwide. And then also like the you know the rise of urban decay and in major US cities and sanitation control issues and you know the the blight of white flight from urban urban populations and what kinds of what kinds of impacts, immediate impacts were felt in that period, and so things like putting garbage on the streets in every shot became tantum mountain, you know those that was the stuff to defend esthetically. When talking to Warner Brothers about about the look of the picture, I think because it was it's not a grand looking movie, even though it's a big broad action movie, and we thought that that would do better justice to to the story and also still keep it visually entertaining. So one of my favorite moments in Judas is when your just first gets the car and he's going to pick up Fred and there's a needle drop and there's like a camera pan on him driving them. That's what it's awesome and thanks. I'm turning this a new question. Sure, how I feel like designing the inside of cars? They must be kind of limited, but also I'm sure there's a lot you can do, and also shooting on the street. I'm sure at a certain point things that you're able to design become out of your control. Yeah, that was that. Thank you for noticing that. That's my favorite shot in the film as well, and it's partially because we had scouted, like you know, half of one block and I'm looking at my budget and the man hours and the amount of time I have to do it. I'm like, okay, no problem, I can give you these store fronts, no problem, and then Shakra and Sean were like, well, we want to do this tracking shot. It's four and a half blocks long into a you turn, terminating on the opposite side of the street with the store front and in mid ground, and then the car is going to pull out and we're going to pan left with it and look straight down the pike. And I was like, I remember looking at him. I was like, okay, we'll figure this shit out and it became a critical problem solving mission to go building by building for those three and a half four blocks, and just I said, I don't want to worry about making any of this look like the S. I said, what I want to do is eliminate anything that is in S I was like, the baseline is there, the architectural language works. I was like kill that sign, take away that that security camera paint that day a glow orange thing black, you know, and it was just just pound, pound pound, just pounding every single building into submission, clearing all the cars as far as we could see. A little of that is kind of understanding your lens lengths and your your aspect ratio and and really being confident that if he's on a forty mill on, you know, host this tray on this side of the car, that any car that's seven cars back is going to be so soft focused that even if the headlights are on, you still won't be able to tell that it's that it's a modern vehicle. But but yeah, it was just like microw. A lot of that movie was like micro problem solving and taking advantage of existing architecture. What was the second half of the question? There was more to that. It was a in car, shooting in cars. Yep, yeah, honestly, three and a half pages in a car. It's it's a break for me. You know it. You work with the with the Transportation Department in the picture car coordinator pick the right kinds of vehicles for the movie, which is Super Fun sub job, and there's tons of meetings where you're just like waxing with teamsters about cool old cars, which I absolutely love. And once you get to the place where it's like this is the perfect car for the character and we could also get a double the other ones down in Virginia. I'll get it trucked up, then it's more about you know, what the hell are we going to see out the windows? That's that's the big problem. But but especially with contemporary movies, car work, you know, I can go worry about tomorrow. I don't even have to stick around that kind of thing. So one of the sets that I really liked was the Black Panther headquarters and obviously you had to create that and then it had to get destroyed and then it had to be redone correct and so what was that like? That was logistically very scary when I read it and we were having our meetings about it. The number of beats where, because it gets trashed on camera. HMM, then the cops set fire to it. Then we see it burnt out, but before we see it burnt that we also see a dream sequence...

...where it's been trashed again in a different way, right, and and then we come back and it's been restored. And so I said, let's establish what the look has to be, which was sort of an amalgam of all you know, we're dealing with a Socialist Marxist organization that didn't keep great records, so there's very little interior photography that's accessible what these spaces look like. So that became an amalgam of kind of all the Black Panther offices nationwide. We were pulling individual details. You know, there's a corkboard on the wall with x members who were no longer allowed in the premises that we took from the San Francisco office. There was, you know, that kind of counter style. I think we took from, I think it was photos of the New York office. So so there were elements that were very true to what those interiors look like, but they were various offices we were pulling from. But we did have Mamakua friend's widow come when I when it was dressed and she was like, okay, this feels right, this feels like a Black Panther office. So I think we got to a place where the baseline esthetic was right and the architecture, the exterior architecture, was very similar to the real Chicago Office. You can you can hold those photos side by side and and we're really I think, other than the front facing elevation, the glass, the way the glasses oriented, we were we were pretty spot on with what the with the Chicago Office looked like. So then, in terms of the logistics of figuring out when in the shooting schedule we're going to do these different elements, we broke the burnt out interior office off from the schedule and we found a building of similar era construction a block away and then we hollowed out that space and then built it back out to resemble a similar footprint to what our first floor at the Black Panther headquarters that we'd established look like, and then we made that look burnt. Then they gave me a day down to come back to that space after, after we cleared out, so that it looks like it's in process and it's being painted while that, while they were shooting that stuff out, it gave us the opportunity to clear out our original Black Panther headquarters, lay new carpet, repaint the entire space, scrape the chip paint off the walls and bring in just a peppering of new furniture. Thankfully we didn't, you know, the implication is that they've just moved back and so there wasn't a ton of stuff to bring back can at that point. But I was going to say you kind of faced a unique challenge because, like so much footage exists of, you know, these real historical events and then to double down on that. You're showing so much of it, like, especially with like the the William O'Neill, like the opening with La Keith and then the end with with with a real guy. I was like, it's interesting how there's a little bit more of the plant that it's clear that they made little deviations intentionally and I was wondering how you go about weighing historical accuracy versus like, you know, creatively trying something new. Yeah, it was. It was very much the consideration was, like the thing shot gun I will constantly talk about is, in terms of like making the movie exciting and digestible, was how could this be the kind of like Classic Warner Brothers Sunday afternoon action movie that that you've seen a million times, but now it's been like edited for TV and it has commercial breaks in it and you're folding laundry, but you still want to watch it. You just don't change a channel, you just leave it on. And so we we were really, really cognizant of like cinematic trope and genre stuff and and you know, the references we were constantly throwing around were like Michael Mann movies. So that dictated kind of what the movie aspired to be in terms of like a studio picture. And then, wherever there was the opportunity to be as truthful to the storyline as possible, what that often meant was just truncating events, because all that stuff happened. It was just a question of the amount of time in which these sequences take place is obviously truncated for the movie, but the stuff that was emotionally integral to preserve the memory of Fred Hampton and his story was the stuff we tried to be as historically accurate about. So, like his apartment is a stick for stick recreation of the apartment, the mattress, upholstery, the lamp on the bedside table, the table itself, every piece of furniture, every wall color, every treatment you know that you can see, like dry wall marks, like everything. Even the placement of the bullet holes is based on the court case files and that was something we tried, we tried really hard to preserve. But you know, the other spaces where there's leeway, it's like the shootout in the refinery didn't didn't occur anywhere remotely as cinematically in real life as it did in the movie. So that was an opportunity to get to get fun with it. You know, so I'm sure you know this, but you shot partially at Ohio State Reformatory, which is very famously where some of Shawshank redemption which show, and I was wondering what that experience was like then, if it was eerie. Yeah,...

...and and I think Air Force One shot there as well, because we rolled up in there was a the remnant of an ancient gate that had been lost to the sands of time and I realized it was a fake gate leftover from a movie from thirty years ago that has shot there. It's wild, I mean it's more it's more while to think that all prisons in the United States look like this at one point and not not. I'm not talking a hundred years ago, we're talking a generation ago. All prisons look like this. It's it's a spooky place, for sure. There's parts of that prison that are terrifying and we would we had breaks while we were prepping. We have a lot of paint work to do there and stuff to bring it back up to snuff, and we would definitely poke around in the dark with like our our iphone flashlights, like scaring ourselves and then running back to the air like the well lit, warm safe area that we were working at. But you know, it's definitely a cinematic treasure and it's in the middle of fucking nowhere. So so the entire economy of this town is like built around the tourism of this space and there's also across the street from a functioning maximum security prison, so it's got this weird kind of energy about it. But, you know, it's hard not to appreciate Shoshan and they also have some shojang props and stuff there, so you're kind of you're walking in the footsteps of giants, you know. Yeah, yeah, so just to sort of, I guess, slowly wrap up on Juda specifically, were there any like specific unique challenges that Judas brought that maybe you didn't encounter on other movies or something you've learned maybe that you'll take forwards? Yeah, definitely. I mean the the prescient nature of a historical story that's been overlooked was something that acts everybody's hearts the whole time. You wanted to do the story justice in a way that, as engaged with other fictions as I've been, there wasn't the kind of societal responsibility to do this the right way that there was on this movie. I think that was probably the biggest one. I am also I am I am a white designer trying as hard as I can to inject myself into a black experience for the purposes of communication, and that was something that is obviously a consideration in every regard. You know, there was not a single moment on that film where I'm not trying to be cognizant of my own presence in this space and also understanding of the external around me. And you have members of this story who are who are alive and well and not just present on the film set but also still fighting this battle that they've been fighting for, you know, an entire generation, and so it's not a question of like digging up the past. It's like they're still in the trench. And so you you, you it's very easy to to get swept up in in your own emotion when you're trying to process all this stuff, because it's a horrendous story. So that was that was definitely the biggest challenge. And then, on top of that, it's you know, it's a it's a studio period piece, and so the logistical and creative decisions are exponentially more complicated and deserve more consideration every step along the way, because the entirety of the world has to be considered as opposed to just the just the foreground emotional stuff in the script. You know, it's like with a saffy movie. I'm not terrified. If there's a city bus a block away with this it's like, well, you know, we got to hold the roll until until it clears, that kind of thing. So so, yeah, it's kind of toofold. It's like the the depth and breadth and scope of this world's fucking dynamic and crazy and huge and period and also it's a very sensitive, very real, very human skill story, and that that dichotomy is was definitely tricky along the way. So pivoting a little bit, I'm sure much of your early career was shot gorilla style without permits, and I'm sure that's even still sometimes the case today, and I was wondering if you have ever been like rounded up or if you have some sort of a technique for avoiding the authorities when trying to shoot in public places. Well, it's easier in New York now than it used to be when I first started, when I was making movies in high school and stuff, and it was it was you would get chased away all the time. It's always better to beg forgiveness and as be ation. Yes, it's always better to beg for going to because the worst case scenario you got one unusable take before you get kicked out, versus not even getting the camera up, because nine times out of time you will get at what you need out of it. You know, you just can't be afraid to to be very friendly but forceful and get your coverage, get it in the can and and be fluid about it and and be considerate. You know,...

...more often than not you end up getting what you need or getting away with what you need. Yeah, but we pulled some crazy stunts for sure, especially in the early days. Trying to think of a specific I mean it's just yeah, it's just a it's just a broad swath of memories of just like, okay, cool, quick, Coo quick, you know, get that shot in the museum and Natural History that they there's no fuck way that they would have ever allowed us together. You know, the mosquito and Daddy Longley's that kind of thing, and it was also what was for me, especially as a production designer. What was it? The most important learning learning experience about stealing shots or shooting girl footage? Is that a movie? You know, there are people who their filmmakers, who pride themselves on making a movie as small as possible and their filmmakers who pride themselves on making movies big as possible, and I think the most important facet of flexibility in movie making, especially at that level, is making a movie for the absolute right size it needs to be. That's that. That is not that's as. Is Not the same thing as making a movie as small as possible. Just be very clear and direct about what you need in order to accomplish exactly the shot you you're hoping to achieve. If that means three to three extra people, you got to get those three extra people. If it means you can do it without six of them, send them away, send them home you would. You should always aim to make it a stream one as possible, but be cognizant of when you need more, because otherwise it will never live up to his full potential, you know. And and that for me like sitting out and being like on the early sap few movies, being like you guys want me to come in there, like no, no, and I'm like cool, I'll stay back and I can be processing other stuff that'll be helpful for the movie. That was that was an important skill stuff for me to to really learn and like not feel like I had to be there all the time. You know. Great. So, since you mentioned the SAFT, he's provides a great segue. We wants just ask first on good time, how'd you get permission from Domino's and what was was that like? Well, their individual franchise, he's so. So the manager of that particular location, I believe, said no fucking way, and then domino's, I believe, said no fucking way, and I think they just shot it. I think they I think they shot it until they got kicked out, as I recall. I could be wrong about that or it's all it maybe as possible. Domino's corporate said no and the manager said okay, and they started shooting in. The manager realize how violent and visceral the scene was and then was like no, no, you guys gotta go, but we had already gotten enough footage at that at that moment. I think that's I believe that's how it went down on that good time was just an exercised in Stam and man, that that whole thing. It was, you know, thirty days of straight night photography in the coldest time of year in New York City like that was that wasn't that was a bear. Can you hear the dog? Yeah, that's that's it. It's not enough for the point where it's the problem. Yeah, so I heard you talking about how they hired a lawyer for eighth grade to like clear all the rights and how I can't imagine they're hiring you a lawyer for every production. So how does it go with like a little background posters and stuff, with getting stuff cleared? Is that? I'm sure that's under your jurisdiction. It is. So it depends on who's releasing the movie. If if you're couching this question in terms of like young filmmakers on their first movie who don't have enough money to clear art, here's the deal, and this will be super helpful for anybody who's just engaging in this process the first time. There's a couple of routes you can go. You can either fabricate your own poster using licensing license, you know, image with that you build online and make your own shit that looks like the real shit. You can clear the real thing, which may or may not cost money. It's a crapshoot and a lot of time people say no and it's time consuming and it basically means you need a person at a desk dealing with the shit, or you can do what we did on eighth grade, which is we approach a we approached the lawyer who specializes specifically in documentary film and we said, we would like to take you on as counsel for the art department so that we don't have to clear anything, because we are making our best effort to accurately portray a teenager, and would you be willing to defend it? And the the attorney looked at the scope of our budget and the ask and said Yes, absolutely, so long as you're not making fake posters. You got to go to spencer gifts, you got to buy posters in stores that a teenager would buy posters, and if you can prove that with receipts, then I will. Then I will defend it in court. But most of these small movies. If your movie is less than five hundred thousand dollars the A, the likelihood of legal recourse for Rights Shrinks obviously be your the the number of people that are going to see this in a theatrical release are most...

...likely a smaller one. And and if your movie blows up, you know, fingers crossed. Chances are it'll premiere at a festival and most error and omission policies for releasing a movie of that scale will cover the liability of the ninety days, or whatever that term is, in which somebody can press charges and cease and desist you. So if your movie premiers at Sun Dance and you had a tailor swift poster in the background of a shot, that would mean that when a tailor fist people would have to be at that screening when that clock started. But for them to then issue a season is it's the likelihood of a festival circuit movie being seen by the Party who's being affected by that piece on the wall is astronomically small, which means that insurance policies are probably willing to cover especially if the total budget of the movies like, you know, eighty grand or something. So when that ninety day window closes, it's too late for them to press charges in your movie got out. What winds up happening is it becomes a little more expensive if you sell the movie, because IFC is going to say well, we're going to you know, we wanted to give you five hundred thousand dollars for this movie, but where you got a pocket a hundred K to deal with the licensing on this one poster in this one scene or whatever, and then they'll wind up negotiating it. So that's that's the easiest route to go about it. So I think the general rule of thumb for for young filmmakers I would say, I would recommend is if it's a store bought poster, then I wouldn't stress about it until it's in the can and have this conversation with the producer ahead of time. And if it's a piece of art, a painting or a sculpture, do your best to try to clear it, you know, because it's an individual artist who made that thing and they're usually a lot more approachable than dealing with some mega corporations to get a star wars poster or something like that. But I've also had really good luck on tiny movies. I did this kids movie years ago that not a lot of people saw that I was really proud of, and it took place in eighteen seventy seven, and there were we taught what I approach Lucas Film and I said, listen, it's it's about kids. In the summer of one thousand nine hundred and seventy seven, I need to Put Star Wars all over this movie and they were like yeah, no problem, and they were cool about it. And we had been to star wars stuff all over the place. There was a scene where some where a hand prop was, you know, somebody's unboxing like a Ken or Star Wars action figure. So you'd be you'd be surprised how how sometimes it's actually very easy to get it, but you just have to be vigilant and kind of take every take everything in a case by case go, Kathleen Kennedy. Yeah, just said no one ever. Yeah. So, just in terms of other tips or tricks that you've used, you've spoken about how you use fish tanks as good natural lighting sources, and do you have any other on set tips or tricks like that? Yeah, that well, that's that's a that's a big staff to your request. They always want fish. They always want fish tanks for low lighting. Oh boy. Yeah, I there are rules that I was taught when I was when I was starting out, you know, I was doing set dressing work and stuff that I was always told that I've always ignored intentionally, because I think they add more personality and realism to to Esthetics, things like straightening pictures on the wall. It's like I hate straight pictures. I make sure that all the pictures are just a little time, any tiny bit off that's not perceptible, but but all of a sudden feel subconsciously human. Or when a lampshade is on a lamp and the seem you know because it's a it's a drum and you have the seam facing the camera and then there's always somebody on the side who's like, Hey, can we turn a lampshare around, like no, fuck you keep it like life happens and how you process and digest life is every single element is a facet of how you're explaining things to an audience and how they're interpreting image. So don't be afraid to embrace real life and just be be in control of it. If you want it to be clean, make it clean. If you want it to be dirty, make it dirty, but but just be aware, be aware of every every step of the way. You know, lamps in the shot that are turned off, some DP's have a prom with that, or white walls. Sean Bob it I said to him I want this one, this we had this one shot in juice in the Black Messiah of Jesse Plemon's eating a sandwich in his office by himself. beautive. I think it's a beautiful shot and I think the reason it's a beautiful shot is because he's sit in front of a blank fucking white wall with nothing on it and it's solitary and it's depressing. And I thought I didn't have to fight with SEAWAN. I just said, listen, it is of the utmost importance that there's nothing in the background of this thing and it's got to be as sad as possible. And so, in exchange to be to have some control over the frame. You know, you dress the bottom of the frame of things on the top of the desk, just to you know your your your show in the audience. You know how to play the piano, but you're not you're not going for the Solo. You know what I mean? It's...

...it's that kind of consideration when you're composing imagery, be it a fish tank as an advantageous source of low lighting or a wall where you're where you're intentionally not putting anything up. But as long as you exercise that level of understanding of what you're trying to achieve. I think those little tips and tricks start to present themselves anyway. So I stee a scene that stuck with me the first time I saw good time, almost entirely due to the production design. Is the the neon monster house acid trip thing, and I want to hear how that came to fruition that. It's a real theme park. It's not a real neon sign and we added a ton of NEON and spooky dressing to it to get it to a horrendous cinematic place. And it was you know, oftentimes, especially with Josh, with sets like that, you work until your fingers or hamburger meat. You're just putting things in and putting things in and putting things in. Announced the night before shooting and he comes on set and he's like you need twice as much stuff, and you're like fuck any stamp all night and you just keep adding more and adding more and anymore. So that that was just that. That was like a race against the clock to just stick more and more neon and more and more spooky dressing into that, into that environment. But the bones were awesome. I mean the the getting it, getting to shoot that thing was so cool. What a weird place, you know, but it but yeah, that was all. That was the huge chunk of that was stuff we brought in, I guess, kind of closing out good time. Unless, Trent, you want to ask about the paint explosion, if you ask about the Aerial Hotel Room shot, of course please. Yeah, so, like if you could talk about the Hotel Room Chasing Rock Pattinson and the falling man. Oh, you mean the the apartment at the end. It's that was credit work, credits do. Samson, Jacobson, location manager, pulled that apartment out of his ass and it looked like that. The only thing I brought in that space was that reflective coffee table. Everything else was spot on and I think everyone involved was smart enough to not fuck with that interior. That was that was just some due apartment that he found and it was like, okay, roll sound, we're good the you know, you just have to embrace stuff like that when it happens. Falling out of the window was a very complicated sequence that they knew they were going to they were going to need some CG elements for and I at that point in the picture, I there was no need for me to open my mouth with that Shit. Let them, let them hammer out the best methodology. I didn't have to build the facade or anything, you know, like in good time. That was all a CG element in uncut the windows stuff. That was a fake brick wall on a stage that we built. The overhead is a real, real building when he's passing the bag but being held out the window and backup. That was all. We matched the brick on stage and put it on the platform. Faked all that stuff. So I think it's really a case by ked case. But in good time it was really just like what critical elements from the facade building do we need in order to pull this off? And then they took his little body and they made him look like he was higher than he actually was, kind of thing. So jumping to uncut gems for a minute, I'm sure that a lot of I mean just the thematically good time and I cut JEM's are, you know, parallel and uncut gems. Like you do a lot of shooting with Adam Sandler on the street and I can't imagine that you got hermits. And so it's just a juxtaposition of like a seemingly a high budget picture with high budget stars but still you kind of back your old ways in a way. Yeah, well, it was. We did have permits, but it definitely was a hybrid because Josh in particular had spent years kind of inserting himself as slowly and as comfortably as possible into the world of the diamond district, because it's so insular. All those guys know each other. They've all been on the block for generations. They do not want outsiders coming in, and so it took a lot of finesse in Josh's part, just with handshakes and stuff and and and playing up his Jewishness to get into bed with these guys enough for them to even get confirm what the idea of a movie coming. So then all of a sudden sandman shows up and everyone on the planet loves Adam Saanidler. He does not have an enemy in this world. So now we they're cool with us, you know, quote unquote, cool with US making a movie, but this like megawatt, lovely human being that everybody, even if you've never seen his movies, you know Adam Sandler's the nicest guy on the planet. Like there's no there's not a there's not a mean bone in the guy's body. So by day three he's walking out a block...

...aoh way, he everybody wants to say hello to him, and so it was just who up becoming the kind of thing where it's like, even though we had permits, even though we had trucks around the corner and even though we can kind of control the logistics in terms of vehicles and parking and stuff, we let the diamond district be alive and just made it clear that don't call him Adam Call Um Howe. It was that kind of thing and and it was fluid, but it was functional enough to get what they needed out of it and we tried to keep a low profile for the exterior work and then the die, the interior diamond shop. I built that all on a stage that we were nowhere near the diamond district when we need to do that by the time we start doing the other pieces of him navigating New York City. That was stuff where we actually needed to, you know, shut the streets down and put an extras, because it was a lot easier to make this movie amongst family in this little controllable block then it was to like start going a field and have them cross streets and stuff. You know, that was the stuff where you're surrounding him with fifteen of our guys and and the the closest, the the closest Bogie has no idea. That's Adam Sandler, because he's far enough why he can't tell you know. So Trent and I are like, I would say, extreme seven fans. So Darius Conji is obviously he's a cool guy to us. So what was what was that like? And you know, it was contentious between him and I. Yeah, it, but in a way that I think was for the betterment of the movie. You know, we have, we have two very different schools of thought in terms of approach. So there was a lot of butting heads, but it was it was always creative budding heads. It was never like a personal thing or anything like that. He is he's incredibly exacting. He and he has an incredible, incredible mode of communication with directors. I mean these are guys that I've known for fifteen years and within a want to say, Hey, shut up, you know, shout up, Dude. So He's a guy who has an incredible way of communicating with directors. And you know, the safe's are filmmakers. I've worked with for fifteen years and by month, by the end of month one, he was communicating them with them creatively on levels of depth akin to the kinds of conversations that I was having with them. He he understands the aft and the medium well enough to to kind of do it by rote. I mean you know, he's master, master technician, no doubt about it. So in Unsung bomback movie that you worked on is Mr Mistress America, and nobody asks about mistress in there. Yeah, I'm about to ask a question about Mrss Mary. Yeah, so I think probably one of the most like lively sets and all of his movies is the Connecticut House. And have what's it like like spending so much time at one location? Because there's a nightmare. There was an absolutely absolute nightmare. That was at the tail end of the shoot. We were all exhausted and we were working very long days and was a very long commute and the whole house was glass and the Rub with this Goddamn House Man. I'll never forget it. The Rub was that the first day we showed up there were there was no snow and we shot a full day's work and then every consecutive day we showed up there was a massive snowfall that had occurred overnight, and so every morning we had to shovel out all the because you can look in any direction. Could always se outside and everyone of Sam Levy shots, God bless them, it like it. They're all the you know, these these wild kind of old Hollywood camera moves where we're just like blazing through that house at high speed so you see the whole goddamn world. So it was a constant it was a cons and battle to just get rid of all the snow and then run inside as fast as you could and move all the equipment into the one little corner of the building that you weren't going to see for that shot. Then do it all again for the next setup. And you know, Noah has it an incredibly, incredibly high take ratio. He, you know, we're most filmmakers would shoot, you know, five to seven takes per set up. He shooting on his non union movies. He was shooting forty, five, fifty takes per setup. So so these resets where you're just kind of trying your best to perfect it, perfective, perfect, that it's not getting there and you're getting physically more and more tired as you go. It was, it was, it was a dog fight, it was, it was, it was so just bearing down on you. But the sequencerned out great and the House is really beautiful. And obviously that was a very low budget movie that I made very early my career, so it wasn't like I had a huge amount of creative control over the esthetic of the house. But but it was, it was a lot. It was a logistical ballet to get every shot ready. And you know, also people don't understand is they think a spe even filmmaker, they think, oh well, we're shooting in this place for a week, it'll be easy, everything's establish, is...

...fine. But but they don't understand is but right right on the other side of cameras like ten people eating things and drinking things and leaving the food wrappers out and moving the furniture so they can put their cart of equipment or so. So keeping up, keeping up appearances with kind of the name of the game and that whole sequence. And I've it's burned into my head. Just running around that house like literally, you know, three seconds ahead of camera to just clear surfaces before the camera would come around the corner and stuff so speaking on no bomback, like how much creative sort of specificity does he have and sort of in terms of your work, like how much is it sort of just left up to you, and how would that sort of compared to working with the Safti's? For somebody else this speaking earlier, what you said about like the tilted frames, I think Francis Haw is, you know, the the quintescence of tilted pictures. It's it's interesting with that. Yeah, well, Francis, thought was the apartment that Gretta and I were shoot were living in at the time and then when we finish making that movie, we all we all moved out as fast as we could. We couldn't live in that space anymore and I think a lot of our other esthetic values in terms of approach were forged in that movie specifically because we were trying to figure out how to best capture the space we lived in. But you know, I think what I would say about bound back and the safty's to a certain extent, would be true of all directors that I would consider the autors I've been lucky enough to work with, because at this point, you know, I've worked with filmmakers who who's common thread, if be it Shocka or Miranda July or the safty brothers are bound back. The common thread that I noticed a brilliance between all of them, seems to be, and this will answer your question about creative freedom, it seems to be that the the directors who really excel don't tell me what they want and instead are very apt to communicate what it is they don't want. Telling telling me what what they don't want sets me up in a position where I can creatively exercise some mind blowing you know, I can come up with creative concepts that they couldn't have been considerate of, and that's true of the people who work under me as well. You know, in eighth grade, my decorator, I said to my decorator, she had, you know, she didn't grow up in this country and she's a woman, and I said to her, I was like, your perspective on American life is going to be different than anything I could ever dream of. And also I was never a thirteen year old girl. So so what you're bringing to the table is inherently as important, if not more important, than my ability to communicate those those sthetic needs. So I think I think with bound back, you know, the SAFTS are a little different. Based based solely on the sheer amount of time I've spent with them, I think there's a lot less that needs to be said because we've already made all the stupid joke, you know, run out of things to say years ago. But but with bound back and and Miranda July in particular, I just remember being very impressed with their their willingness to okay, okay, buddy, the promise. He knows I'm talking to somebody but isn't know who I'm talking with. With bound back and Miranda July in particularly, I I just I specifically remember their willingness to give me the freedom to approach them with ideas and be very clear about what they're not looking for. That was the big thing. So I heard you say that the character of Benjie and Francis has at least like spiritually based on you. Yes, pretty close. Yeah, yeah, so are you like writing gremlins three and stuff? I heard they like that was like Bard closed. Yeah, yeah, that was a joke based on the fact that I had written a script for a new Beverly Hills cop movie that was sitting in my desk drawer for a very long time and the my whole premise was that axle fully is being framed for murder because his gun, was his gun from the first movie, was stolen out of the lock up and he had to go back to Beverly Hills to clear his name and everybody's trying to kill him. I thought that was very funny. So that's that. That's where that came from. But yeah, I've been the character of Benjie to a certain extent, was ripped from the headlines, for sure. Yeah, I like to think that I'm a little cooler than his character is, but but I don't know. Yeah, it was my clothes, its shit, I said. I remember we were shooting camera tests where they were shooting Sam and grata and no overshooting camera tests for the movie and I was still working on a different film. I was working on Adam Leon's picture and I was coming home exhausted from being on another set. I walk into the apartment and I would just look in the living room and there was a guy who looked like me, wearing clothes that grettahead borrowed from me, saying things that I'd said to her p previously with like with like a small film crew,...

...with like of this fantastic filmmaker shooting them, and then I'm just going to my bedroom and watch. It was a very strange out of body experience. And then I think it was like day two or day three, I just went up to know. I was like you gotta let me design this picture. Be Ridiculous if I did. You know, how do you like seeing kicking and screaming? But yeah, yeah, so I'm sure to have him like in apartment. Stuff. Pretty Surreal. Yeah, it was totally crazy. Totally could and and Gretta. At that point I'd already been in Greenberg, so he'd been a topic of discourse in the home for some time. You know, it was like no is presence around town was being felt in a big way. But yeah, it was. It was banannas have this this guy who excels in conversational dialog recapturing your conversational dialog like a fictionalized version of you. It was a yeah, it was pretty it was pretty wild. It was definitely, definitely wild. And you know, I've had the good fortune of working with Josh Hamilton now a number of times and and you can see that kind of you can see that kind of glimmer out of him. To eat. It's like. Yeah, just being a part of those kinds of movies is always very special. Yeah, Josh Hamilton's awesome as the that and a great that's a fast Josh Hamilton is awesome in general. Every time I talked to him, I should email them actually, but every time I talked to him, I always I always bring up the movie with honors, the which I don't know if you've seen it, but it's Brendan Fraser and Joe Pashi. Joe Pashi plays a homeless bum on the Harvard campus who finds Brendan Fraser's thesis paper and threatens to destroy it unless Joe Petti can come live in their house with all the roommates, and Josh Hamilton's one of the roommates and it's the funniest movie. I love that movie so much. About I was Geek out about that stupid movie with him. So last France has hat. There are very definitive scenes where you're in Paris and Sacramento and like at like Francis, his old college, and I was wondering you probably went to those places and how do you go about designing in a foreign city like that. So for for France. For France, what we did was we rented an Air BMB that we thought looked good for the movie based on a photo, and then we got there and obviously noah bound back is very good friends with Wes Anderson, who keeps a serious presence in that city and had some resources. So one it was like an assistant of his or something came to kind of help us navigate Paris. And the way we shot was not that dio similar from the plot. What we did was every afternoon and we would wake up Krusty eyed and exhausted and I would get on the back of a mop head with with wes Anderson's assistant and we would just drive around neighborhoods in Paris that we thought that he thought might be the right kinds of neighborhoods to shoot, and then I would pinpoint individual intersections and photograph them and text the photos back to Noah, who would then say yes, this looks good and you know, primarily try to find locations that we could walk around a little bit and get a couple of different shots in and then after we got that work, we would go back to the apartment. I would usually break away from them, go back to the apartment start hiding everybody's personal backs because the whole crew was staying in this apartment and redressing the apartment to get it ready for the night work. We shoot all night and then and then repeat itself the following day. It was a it was a whirlwind. It was an awesome experience for me in terms of experiencing that city because location searching, I think in any city, not just a Pharen city, but anytime you're in a different city than your own and you and you're hunting for film locations, you you get to see the city in a completely different way than you would when you're when you're a denizen. So I really I had a wonderful experience in Paris on that movie. And then Sacramento was a homecoming for Gratta. You know, that's her real house and her folks and stuff. So so for us it was it was a nice respite from the rest of the movie because all of a sudden we had the this break where we were being welcomed into the girlwig household and her high school friends would show up to say hello and congratulator and everything and and that was like that was kind of the polar opposite. was like very home cooking, like take a break and, you know, have a fun time making these last little pieces of the movie that we still owed. So I guess just sort of starting to close out a bit. We and moving on a bit. We heard you directed a cash for gold commercial. Yeah, we want details. I did with this. was back when we would do anything for money, right, we started off safty brothers and I started off as cellouts and and slowly found our moral compass. Now, yeah, with there. You know, at the time it was like any if anybody had ten grand and we knew it would pay our rent on the studio space, we would totally do it. So...

...we had old friend of Ariel showman's had a family business that did cash for gold online and we had the cameras. We're like yeah, we'll do it, and the staff he's like there's no fuck way we're going to direct this commercial. And I was like I'll do it. And you know, it's the same crew. It's not as if anything had shift it right, but but I get called the director. We go out to this house and Long Island shoot this stupid commercial. I think Ben Safty's probably got a copy of it somewhere. I don't know. I think he edited it, but I haven't seen it in the number of years. But yeah, it was. It was a stupid testimonial commercial. It's exactly as bad as you would hope it would be awesome. Yeah. Well, I will say this though. After we finish the actor who was like send all your Golden Blah Blah Blab, you know, call one eight hundred, Blah Blah Blah. After she left, we kept the lights and camera up and then Benny stepped up to the bed, to the bat and he did a fake cash for gold commercial which which is incredible, which I I hope that Benny still has it, editor, because that thing was one of the funniest things we've ever shot. So what are you working on now? I saw sesame street and that seems really exciting, and also the brutalist. So if you could speak on either of those? Yes, actually, I'm doing neither. Um, unfortunately. No, no, but it's a happy to talk, happy to talk about him. So Sesame Street, we had started prepping for Warner Brothers. It was a fantastic script. Jonathan Chrystal was directing who's an awesome comedy director, and it was starting them uppets. So for me it was a dream come true, and Trent is a big lap is fan. I really yeah, yeah, we had. I mean I was working with them hand and glove. I had gotten permission from Warner brothers and the sesame street people to we were going to build sesame street outdoors on a backlot in New York stem to stern. So it wasn't just re using the TV shows that I was building the whole block. We're pouring concrete. We had sketched out the first round of buildings Um and we would we had built a chunk of the carriage house, we'd mapped out all the supports and we were getting ready for the concrete poor, the initial concrete poor, because we're going to do a bunch of different concrete pours and make it look like the block had been around forever. And we had built the Interior, Burton Ernie's apartment, and then that morning my decorator came into the office and she goes, I can't smell or taste anything and I was like, Oh fuck, and then we shut down. Warn Brother Shut the movie down. That was that was march fourteen of year hell and then and then I don't know if it's coming back. Maybe I'll come back, maybe I won't come back. They threw everything away so we'd have to start over because we the storage costs were just astronomical. It made way more sense to get rid of the stuff. So maybe it'll come back. And then with the brutalist, you know, I'd really like to help facilitate that movie with Brady in any capacity I can. There are some logistical issues with covid with international travel, and the financing is hinging on local labor and stuff, so they may have to go with the European designer because he's shooting in Europe. I can say that I will if if all goes right in the world, which a better start. Sometime Soon I'll be doing I'll be doing the new Todd Haynes picture, which is a Peggy Lee Biopick, which is hopefully going to go in Aptember. Will be shooting that and and I'm also looking to do Chris Store, who was the producer of eighth grade, is directing a new series for fx about a sandwich shop in Chicago. So hopefully I'll at least get to do the pilot with those guys out of him and here on Mari from Atlanta are doing that together. So those will be the two big projects on the docket this year, if, if all goes well. So it has come time for the big, final Kahuna. What is the last great thing you watched, and it could be a first time or a revisitation. I the last thing I watched was primal fear. Who with rich with Richard Gear and Edward Edward Norton? I've been doing I've been doing this jump rope since the pandemic started and so I like to watch movies that aren't integral to my life because I can kind of zone out whom jumping rope and that. Yes, last night I watched primal fear and it's one of those great s movies. I love the movies. I love all the movies from that period, like the one with Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman, or Gene Hackman kills a woman and Clean Clint Easton would saw it through to a glass. I like it. I love those s movies where you could watch it on a Wednesday then completely forgot you watched it and then watch...

...it again on Sunday and it's only like after six minutes or something, you're like, Oh, I just watch this a month ago. So I think that I'm I'm moderately confident. I think I watched primal fear like seven weeks ago, something like that, and I watched again and experienced it a new as if I had never seen it before. But but yeah, that was the last picture I watched. Yeah, it's better, and saying like, you know, trial, Chicago seven or stuff. I did, I did. I watched a bunch of the nominees. I really, really enjoyed the father but but yeah, primal fear all the way, baby. Yeah, you were, you know, one of the nominees, so you can't throw too much shade around. Yeah, that's true. That's true. That's a weird feeling. I'll tell you what I was going to say you. I know you weren't. It was nominated for best production this time around, but I feel like you'll get them. Yeah, I feel I feel like that. Sweet I told my dad, I said, Damn, thirty six, I got a lot of time. It'll be fine. And also, let me to let me be frank about something, and this is a loser. Polishing and you know, dusted himself off. Not Getting the production design nomination but getting Best Cinematography and best picture to me means that the design is believable. Right, it's not. It's not loud, so so that, if nothing else that needs, it's effective. And if it's effective, then you're watching the movie and you're not thinking about my work and you're just enjoying the movie for the movie, and to me that's a fucking wind. Dude, I was just going to say invisibility is good. Yet for way for for the Grand Scheme of the movie. and Ye, your Oscar can wait. Sorry, yeah, that's all right. I'm not in the arrest I don't think you know. So part I want to bring us out. Yeah, thank you so much. Say I pulls and LISENCO. It was awesome talking with you. He worked on Judas in the Black Messiah. He's also worked on on cut jams. Good time, Frances hat, you probably have seen a movie that you like that he worked on. Thanks for coming on. We appreciate it. Thank you for having me. This is a lot of fun. Part I know this has nothing to do with that delightful interview we just had, but it's may the fourth. May the fourth be with you, Buddy. Thanks, Trent. Yeah, I mean what will what will it be by the time the listeners hear this? It'll be next week, but it will have been no longer at this day. Yeah, but so far as you know, we recorded this on May fourth and we just want to wish each other or a very may the fourth be with you and your families. This is to our listeners, right. Do you think there will be any star wars episodes under in your future? Clearly we didn't. We didn't plan for one. You know, they would have been timely. Don't you think we really drop the ball as if, as a movie podcast, there are a few responsibilities, and some of them are two. Uphold the expectations of a film podcast, and we felt so. Thanks for bringing that up. Next week we'll be talking about our thoughts. Will be discussing the movie Judas in the Black Messi thanks again to Sam Lasenko for talking about his experience working on the movie. Maybe we'll have a guest, we don't know. Yeah, we were just talking about this. How, Nonna, do you guys even like him? In Parthena? I'm just sit around just then. Just monoemano and Chit Chat, or isn't this the third party that really get gets you? I feel like they joined the podcast to not listen to us. You know, really, no, no, they love us. I love is the strong word. They they tolerate us. They tolerate us for our guests. I was I was going to say that's kind of it's kind of our window appeal. Yeah, all right, we'll see you guys next week. By this is our podcast. Crash. Other service, draft services. Were we talk about movies? I do. You have a funny voice. You can do just for the very end. My father's a wise a listener of craft services. One night he comes home greasier than usual and then he tuned in next week for the discussion of that interview. That's pretty good.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (120)