Jess Gonchor interview: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ production designer
“I had never done a part two, or a sequel of anything,” confesses production designer Jess Gonchor. He designed the sets in “A Quiet Place Part II” despite not having worked on the first film. Though he quickly discovered that the characters left the environment of the original movie towards the beginning of the sequel and entered into new territory. So Gonchor “saw a chance to do different things with the designs.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Both Gonchor and writer/director John Krasinski have lived in New York, so using Buffalo, NY as a filming location provided lots of inspiration. Gonchor describes it as one “of those steel, mine towns.” They were even able to shoot inside of an old steel mill in the area.
Their New Yorker roots even paved way for one of Gonchor’s most impressive set pieces: a destroyed train car which features in a showdown between Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and an alien hunter. “There’s a very specific train line called Metro North,” explains the production designer, referring to the commuter rail which connects travelers from upstate to the Big Apple. “Both of us had that train in mind, that silver car.” Unfortunately, the seating is unbalanced in those classic cars, with two seats on one side of the aisle and three on the other. “So we ended up cutting down a row of seats,” explains Gonchor, to make the car symmetrical and allow for a dolly to travel down the aisle.
While the Paramount film features some elements of westerns, of which Gonchor has ample experience with, he had never tackled a horror film like this. But the artist isn’t one to limit himself to a specific genre. “It’s really the script,” he says, regarding what gets him excited for a project. He becomes interested “if I like it or I feel that it’s right for me. If I feel that I can offer something.” Gonchor appreciates the challenge of tackling something totally new in each film. “We have to become experts on something in like three months,” he explains. So when deciding what he wants to take on next, he looks towards the subject matter and purposefully chooses something which he is not an expert in, but “would be pretty cool to do a crash course.”
Gonchor received Oscar and BAFTA nominations for “True Grit” and “Hail, Caesar!” He won Art Directors Guild awards for “No Country for Old Men” and Apple Music’s “History of Sound.”