Jason Sherwood Interview: ‘The Oscars’ production designer
Production designer Jason Sherwood was responsible for the elegant, swirling design of the 2020 Oscars, and he just received an Emmy nomination for his work. The nomination comes a year after winning an Emmy for his design on “Rent: Live,” and he was hired mere months later to design the Oscars. “They wanted the show to visually feel different than it had in years before while still maintaining the polish and the integrity and the elegance of Hollywood’s most glamorous night,” says Sherwood in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “I really wanted to explore what it would feel like if the moving images of the movies were exploded from a normal movie screen and turned into something that felt more representative of the way that they were.” Watch the exclusive interview with Sherwood above.
The swooping, three-dimensional stage featured thousands of Swarovski crystals, LED screens and more to create the cyclone-like visual that would appeal to those in the theater and those watching on TV. As the production designer explains: “We wanted the technology and the old school and the sense of elegance brought to the project by a partner like Swarovski to have this feeling of, ‘Is that moving? Is it not moving? Is it a video screen? Is it a surface? Is it textural? Is there depth there?’ We wanted the space to feel alive in that way.” The Oscars telecast featured numerous musical performances, which required Sherwood to find the right visual palette to fit each artist, from Idina Menzel to Eminem. With a shorter window of time this award season, Sherwood had only five days after the nominations announcement to put together the visual components of the five Best Original Song nominees. “We had to immediately figure out a way to support those performances with something beautiful and something that spoke to the song and spoke to the event of them performing it live,” he reveals.
Sherwood got to attend the Oscars with his best friend, allowing him to see what he had been working toward for months. Thankfully, he had only positive takeaways from the big event. “It was special to feel the energy of the room and to feel that community of filmmakers come together,” he recalls. “It was an enormous year to have people like Bong Joon-ho, people like Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, all of these mega-filmmakers, Greta Gerwig, Laura Dern winning an Oscar.” He commends the “staggering act of teamwork” that went into pulling off an innovative but classy celebration for the movie industry’s biggest night.