“The biggest challenge was to create something that didn’t feel tired or something that we’ve seen a hundred times before,” reveals production designer Maria Djurkovic about her work on “The Imitation Game,” which takes place in England during World War II. While tradition dictates that films set during this period should stick to the grays and the browns, as she readily admits during our webcam chat (watch below): “I wasn’t remotely scared of using color. I always do a lot of research, and that use of color came from the research material.”
As Djurkovic goes on to explain, “I find that when I do my historical research, I literally wallpaper the art department from floor to ceiling with the references that are very much the foundation and the starting point for me. Number one, it works as a tool of communication: everybody gets to see the world that we’re going to eventually, actually, physically create for the film. But also … the tone, the color pallet always comes out of that, and I don’t feel I have to adhere to that and be absolutely, completely tied down by the historical references. But I do want to have a very solid grounding that I can then base everything on, so that every decision I make is an informed one.”
The film chronicles the story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the brilliant mathematician who successfully broke the Nazi Enigma code by building the world’s first computer. In addition to designing the sets, Djurkovic and her team had to replicate this massive machine, named Christopher. “We had to create it completely from scratch,” she says. A visit to Bletchley Park, the film’s real-life setting, allowed her to see first-hand a full-scale replica.
“Instantly, we felt we needed to extrapolate from the reality and make it something that was going to be more cinematic, more emblematic, more powerful. You’re trying to do two things: you’re trying to make something that’s credible, but you’re also trying to make something that looks rather wonderful in its own way.”
Djurkovic was nominated for a BAFTA for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” (2011) and an Emmy for “RKO 281” (1999), yet has never been nominated for an Oscar, despite working on such high-profile contenders as “Billy Elliot” (2000), “The Hours” (2002), and “The Invisible Woman” (2013).
Do you think Djurkovic will earn an Oscar nomination for Best Production Design? Click here to enter your own predictions for this category and all of Oscar’s top races, or use our easy drag-and-drop menu at the bottom of this post to get started.
Your predictions determine our racetrack odds and you can keep editing them right up until the day Oscar nominations are announced. Top score wins $1,000. You score points based on how accurately you predict the nominees (you get more points if you correctly predict a long-shot candidate before anyone else does), and if you’re one of our most accurate predictors, you’ll be included next year among our elite Top 24 Users and have even greater influence over our odds.