Backstage Interview | 86th Academy Awards

Production Design

CATEGORY: Production Design
INTERVIEW WITH: Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration)


Q.    Beverly, Catherine, congratulations once again.  That's really great. 
A.    (Catherine Martin)  Thank you.

Q.    I have to just ask, Catherine, especially, for your reflection, you're now the most honored Australian Oscar winner ever.  What are your reflections about that, please?
A.    (Catherine Martin)  I am speechless.  I don't know how I feel about it other than very happy.  And it's a very strange and surreal feeling because these awards aren't really for just Bev or I or just for me.  What they represent is the hard work of, in our departments it was nearly 1,200 people that worked with us; great technicians and artisans.  And what is really nice when you accept an award like this is it allows them to put on their CV when they go to get their next job that this film won an Oscar, and to me that's the most important thing.  It's a little bittersweet because I'm only standing here because of Baz Luhrmann, my husband, who is an extraordinary filmmaker, a maverick, he divides the critics and thrills audiences.  And he allows us to do our best work by thinking of things that, you know, we could never imagine by ourselves.  So this is really for him and for all those people.
A.    (Beverly Dunn)  Absolutely.

Q.    With THE GREAT GATSBY, it was such a lavish set where you're recreating his home, his parties.  When do you stop?  When do you know too much is too much? 
A.    (Beverly Dunn)  There's never too much.
A.    (Catherine Martin)  In a Baz Luhrmann world, there's never too much, and you have to ‑‑ he's very exigent.  That's being very flippant.  It's not that there's never too much, but perfection is impossible and he always strives to have the fullest image, the most perfect image.  So it might be about stripping things away or adding things, but it is about trying to tell the story with every tool that he has in his box of tricks, whether it's a set or a costume or cinematography or working with the actors to try and tell the story well.

Q.    Congratulations again. 
A.    (Catherine Martin)  Thank you.  Oh, I'm very disrespectful.  I was holding my Oscar upside down.

Q.    It's well held.  So when you were here earlier for your costume statue, you talked about the arguments you had with yourself as production designer.  Can you elaborate on those areas of argument and agreement?
A.    (Catherine Martin)  I think that with the work that I do and the collaboration that I have with Baz, his ideas are so big and far‑reaching that I always feel my synapses just kind of stretching in my brain to wrap myself around the edges.  So I suppose the arguments with myself is always to reconcile all of the storytelling messages and leitmotifs that need to be wrapped into an image, both in the costumes and in the scenery.  So I suppose you argue with yourself also because you're doubtful of what you've done.  You think, Is it any good?  Will these two things go together?  Do I have ‑‑ I call it one of ‑‑ I love THE SOUND OF MUSIC.  Do I have SOUND OF MUSIC syndrome, which is everything goes together, the whole family is in the same color palette, and then they're in the same color palette room.  So you have those kinds of arguments with yourself.


These transcripts may not be reproduced except as brief quotes used in conjunction with news reporting about the 85th Academy Awards®. All content Copyright 2012 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

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