Kalina Ivanov interview: ‘Lovecraft Country’ production designer
“If you could do ‘Lovecraft Country,’ you could do anything,” says production designer Kalina Ivanov about the work that went into the HBO series, It tells a supernatural horror story set in 1950s America during the Jim Crow era, but over the course of its 10-episode first season it spans centuries, continents, and even planets, giving Ivanov a remarkable range of settings, styles, and eras to recreate. Watch our exclusive video interview with Ivanov above.
Designing for a show that covers so much time and space is an audacious undertaking, so it required months of work in advance. “I was asked to design them all at once, so it was like doing three movies all at once,” Ivanov explains. “At the beginning I was going between scouting in Atlanta and designing in LA to be near [showrunner Misha Green]. And I had a tiny team, and the producers, so it was quite complex.”
Ivanov created “a conceptual book in a couple of months … so we can look at all the research, all the thoughts, some of my sketches, some of the early concepts, and just kind of pitch it to HBO … and I remember [executive producer] Ben Stephenson saying, ‘Well, no other show looks like that.’ And it just made me so happy because it was absolute truth. There is no other show that looked like that.”
As you might expect, a number of settings had to be custom-built for the show. “We had 11 large sets,” Ivanov remembers. “I would say the majority of the show actually was set construction,” whether it’s the mansion where a magic cult carries out a dangerous ritual, the perilous catacombs under a museum, or a time-traveling spacecraft. But now she’s is ready for anything. “I had never wanted to get stuck in a genre. So I was always a little bit of a wanderer between genres. I think I found my home in ‘Lovecraft Country’ because of that. But yes … Give me a Marvel movie, I don’t know. I can do anything.”