Brian Kane interview: ‘Yellowjackets’ production designer

Production designer Brian Kane has the challenge of replicating the ’90s on top of contemporary New Jersey in the Showtime drama “Yellowjackets.” The series centers on a group of teen girls who experience a plane crash in 1996, with some of them surviving to 2021 as they try to unpack the traumas of their youth. With both storylines running through each episode, the production designer points out that the ’90s scenes aren’t necessarily flashbacks. Rather, “they influence each other,” says Kane in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the full video chat with Kane above.

One of the most important settings for the show is the wilderness, where the girls create their own society. As Kane explains, “the wilderness isn’t just a location, it’s a character in our show. It is both the captor and the savior for our girls.” Kane’s team found an area in Surrey, British Columbia called Panther Paintball where they were able to build cabins and utilize the forest’s natural resources, with its hills and rivers, to recreate an authentic primary setting for the ’90s storyline. The most difficult task was assembling the damaged plane, which had to be built in pieces rather than having a real plane brought in due to time constraints.

For the 2021 storyline, Kane was able to show how their time in the woods affected each of the four main characters — Shauna, Taissa, Natalie and Misty. For Shauna’s house, he wanted to express that she’s trying to give the impression that everything is okay when it isn’t, while also showing the forest’s influence through her artwork. While Taissa shows her sense of power through her tastefully-decorated interiors, she also has overgrown plants on her back deck. For Misty, “I don’t think really Misty knows how to be,” observes the production designer, so her place is decorated with out-of-date style, while Natalie’s motel room has strategically-chosen colors to show that she too can’t escape the trauma of what she went through.

With the air of mystery pervading “Yellowjackets” through each episode, even Kane doesn’t always know the meaning behind each symbol or detail. This comes down to showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson‘s process of keeping various plot elements secret even from the cast and crew. “It’s interesting working with them,” the production designer states. “While they’re incredibly detailed and incredibly specific, they also leave a lot up to the imagination for us as well.”

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UPLOADED Jun 3, 2022 1:30 pm