Gene Serdena Q&A: ‘Passengers’ production designer
“I think there are certain design tropes that people abide by with regards to spaceships and futuristic design. One of the things that’s really interesting about working with Guy is he’s very willing to throw a lot of preconceived ideas off the spaceship,” said set decorator Gene Serdena about working with production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas on the new sci-fi film “Passengers” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt (watch above). Serdena was part of a “Meet the Experts” panel presented by Gold Derby at the Landmark Theater in L.A. on Nov. 9 to spotlight great achievements in crafts.
Serdena added that part of the appeal of “Passengers” was that it avoids the “dystopian view” that has become a large part of contemporary sci-fi. “It had a distinctly romantic tone to it,” he explained, “and so we wanted to make sure that the design of this spaceship reflected that … How can you create an atmosphere that’s going to lend itself to heighten the romance in the story?”
“Passengers” tells the story of a spacecraft carrying thousands of people to a distant colony, but a malfunction causes two of those passengers (Lawrence and Pratt) to wake up from their sleep chambers 90 years too soon. This isn’t Serdena’s first time working in sci-fi. In 2013 he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Production Design along with K.K. Barrett for the near-future romance “Her.”
Serdena has also worked on a wide range of films including “Three Kings” (1999), “Adaptation” (2002), “The Fighter” (2010) and “Steve Jobs” (2015), among many others. And on the small screen he worked on “Northern Exposure,” for which he won an Emmy for Best Art Direction in 1992.
“Part of the creative process is you have to figure out a way to make it work,” Serdena explained about the challenges of his field. “I’m sure all of us have had that experience where you have an unconventional idea or approach to something, and you’re not really sure if you’re going to pull it off. That can be the most exciting place to be in.”