Annie Beauchamp interview: ‘Swan Song’ production designer

Production designer Annie Beauchamp was tasked with creating a grounded yet advanced vision of the future in the new Apple TV+ film “Swan Song.” The film, set about 20 years in the future, tells the story of a man named Cameron Turner (Mahershala Ali), who is dying of terminal cancer and seeks out an experimental new treatment that would allow himself to be cloned, for the benefit of his family. While the plot and setting may be high concept, “Swan Song” is a love story at its core, and it was important for her to reflect that. “I felt the design on this film could really elevate and visually advance the emotion and the intimacy in those special moments,” says Beauchamp in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the full video chat above.

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Her vision for the film began with researching quantum computing and the various ways in which technology influences how we interact as humans. She also took influence from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” particularly the artificial intelligence HAL 9000, keying into “the feeling that you had this innate intelligence from something smarter than a human.” There is a tactile element to the technology in “Swan Song,” which ranges from contact lenses that insert into a plate to AR screens that pop out of the characters’ phones. “We wanted to have that human quality to the tech,” explains Beauchamp.

The film’s most significant design is the facility at which the experiment is carried out, a sleek, minimalistic laboratory only accessible by boat. Unlike most productions, which scout for exterior locations for big set pieces like this, Beauchamp and director Benjamin Cleary started by designing the interiors of the lab. “I wanted to evoke a sense of unspoiled beauty and timelessness and minimalism but at the same time, wanting to create a gallery space feel and a therapy room,” the production designer states. She hoped to evoke primal notions of birth and death by using rammed earth for the walls and making use of reflections, windows and frames within frames.

Beauchamp found “Swan Song” to be a “dream come true” to work on, especially in her collaborations with Cleary and the film’s director of photography, Masanobu Takayanagi. “I think we all became in tune with the color palette and the philosophies.”

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UPLOADED Dec 6, 2021 3:00 pm