During our recent webcam chat (watch above), “Nocturnal Animals” production designer Shane Valentino reveals that working with director Tom Ford, a fellow designer, made it “easier to create a language together (because) “we have similar sensibilities, especially in terms of our appreciation for other films, fine artists, or cultural moments.” This Focus Features release stars Amy Adams as Susan, an art gallery owner haunted by her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) violent novel about a man’s (Gyllenhaal) desperate search for his wife and daughter’s killer. While reading the book, she reflects on events from her past that led to the breakup of her marriage.
With its multi-layered narrative that jumps back-and-forth between past and present, fantasy and reality, Valentino was given the rare opportunity “to do basically three films in one,” and with each, “you’re able to invoke different kinds of looks.” When it came to designing these separate pieces, he explains he tried, “to actually think about other films, and tonally how they could relate to the different types of moments in the film itself.”
He drew inspiration from many different sources, including Michelangelo Antonioni‘s “Red Desert” (1964), which invokes the isolationism of Susan’s art deco world, to Wim Wenders‘ “Paris, Texas” (1984) and David Lynch‘s “Lost Highway” (1997), which convey the nightmarish West Texas world of the novel. “The beautiful thing about Tom,” he adds, “is that he knows all these references, so when you have a language that is speaking about tone, it’s a lot easier then to start talking about specific colors, about certain architecture, how that will affect the characters or that particular scene, etc.”
Valentino previously competed at the Art Directors Guild for his work on “Batman Begins” (2005). Will his first Oscar nomination be next? Check out our full interview above for more about his work on “Nocturnal Animals.”
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