Production designer Jack Fisk may not work often, but when he does, it’s often on a film that gets a great deal of notice. He’s worked extensively with the likes of Terrence Malick, David Lynch and Paul Thomas Anderson, creating an impressive body of work. His latest film, “The Revenant,” pairs him with another visionary director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. In our recent webcam chat (watch below), the veteran craftsman spoke about the challenges of bringing America in the early 1800s to life.
“I had researched that period for ‘Lewis and Clark,’” he says, referring to a project that ultimately went unmade. Fisk admits he was eager to recreate frontier life on film, “so when Alejandro first asked me to work on this, I was really excited because I was able to put to use all the knowledge that I had gleaned from reading journals and looking at painting."
As he explains, "that was the thing that got me, and also the fact that Alejandro wanted to shoot in continuity, he wanted to shoot in the real environment, and he wanted the environment to be difficult.” His main concern was in creating a sense of authenticity in his designs.
“Continually in my life, when I visit period structures of museum forts and stuff, I’ve always thought they weren’t quiet real, and I wanted to correct the history.” He adds, “the biggest challenge was finding locations to tell the story in.” Fisk traveled throughout British Columbia and Alberta alongside the location scout to find the ideal spots on which to build the sets.
Despite working on many academy-friendly films, Fisk received his sole nomination for “There Will Be Blood,” for which he won the Art Directors Guild award. Will the academy recognize him again for “The Revenant?”
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"The Revenant" photo credit: Fox