89th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: Production Design

CATEGORY: Production Design
SPEECH BY: David Wasco (Production Design); Sandy Reynolds-Wasco (Set Decoration)



Q. So you're standing in for a lot of below‑the‑line work on LA LA LAND.  Talk about the process of the other department heads and the other contributions that culminated in this particularly lively and magical kind of production design.
A. (David Wasco)  Well, I think ‑‑ I think in the case with this movie, Damien was able to articulate what he wanted, and he had a strong interest in the art department, but early on he had all of the departments ‑‑ costume, camera, art, props ‑‑ together so that we can talk about what ‑‑ what his vision was.  So it was one of those kind of perfect storms where everybody was on the same page making his movie, and that's not always the case.

Q. This being a love letter to Los Angeles ‑‑ I'm right here.  Hi.  How would you describe, like, the feeling or the vibe of this city?
A. (David Wasco)  Well, it's ‑‑ we live here, and we love this city.  And there is a deep history, contrary to what people think about this city as being a young city.  There is a deep history of the city, and we ‑‑ we have a passion for the diverse architecture that is throughout the city, and we share that with Damien.  He wanted to ‑‑ he wanted to have that as a backdrop for his story, and he had specific locations and places that he wanted to feature.  But then as we were making the movie, things were unfolding where new and different places came about.  And he wanted to make a contemporary movie, but he also wanted to juxtapose that with kind of the history of this city and have it be kind of a nondescript contemporary movie, but also tip‑of‑the hat to some of the vintage aspects of the city.  Want to contribute on that?
A. (Sandy Reynolds‑Wasco)  I think there's ‑‑ there's such a magic to Los Angeles.  There is a magic for when people first come here.  The young people are described in the movie, you've seen films, you've seen television, images of the city, you've experienced it before you've even arrived.  But when you get here and you're going about your business, trying to get somewhere, you're still running into things like the Laurel & Hardy steps or you'll walk by some icon of the past or just recent past that gives it some romance.  And I think that was part of the story mixed with the cinematic locations, which were the back lots, the tip‑of‑the‑hat, or finding the back French street at Warner's that was involved with Casablanca.  So there were things that ‑‑ from L.A. that exist that were tied into the script, and there was just the romance that exists here of ‑‑ this sort of a thread through its history.

Q. Hard to believe you've never been nominated before.  You finally won an Oscar, both of you.  Why pretty‑up L.A. so much?  You guys put street lamps all over the place, on the Hermosa Pier and Mt. Hollywood Road and Drive.  Were you worried about making L.A. look too pretty?
A. (David Wasco)  Well, it is a beautiful city, and we ‑‑ we think that there's this ‑‑ this charm about the city, that we've had the opportunity to showcase the city in different lights.  For instance, COLLATERAL, which I think did show it in a different light; or PULP FICTION which showed it in yet a different light; Martin McDonagh's SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS.  So we've had an opportunity to use the city as a backdrop on a diverse variety of movies.  We did want this to be a beautiful ‑‑ a beautiful movie.  We ‑‑ we used as a ‑‑ a template the Jacques Demy movies from the '60s, like UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, which showed Paris in a ‑‑ in a beautiful way, and that was Damien's request.
A. (Sandy Reynolds‑Wasco)  You know, there's a beauty, but there is also beauty in the decay here, and there are things like when we use the Rialto Theatre.  It's a beautiful, romantic place, but it's falling apart.  The streetlights were on just because we ‑‑ it was a low‑budget movie.  We rented 12 streetlights and brought them everywhere, but they turned out to be a really beautiful addition and sort of a ‑‑
A. (David Wasco)  A thread throughout the movie.
A. (Sandy Reynolds‑Wasco)  Yeah, a thread through the movie.  But that sort of romantic decay was certainly something in the movie from Los Angeles.



These transcripts may not be reproduced except as brief quotes used in conjunction with news reporting about the 89th Academy Awards®. All content Copyright 2016 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Oscar®," "Oscars®," "Academy Awards®," "Academy Award®," "A.M.P.A.S.®" and "Oscar Night®" are the trademarks, and the ©Oscar® statuette is the registered design mark and copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional information regarding the "Terms & Conditions of Use" and "Legal Regulations for Using Intellectual Properties of the Academy" may be accessed online at http://www.oscars.org/legal

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Communications Department
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
Phone (310) 247-3090
FAX (310) 271-3395