Matthew Ferguson Interview: ‘Hollywood’ production designer
Matthew Ferguson had the enviable task of handling the production design on Netflix’s splashy limited series “Hollywood,” a reimagining of Tinseltown in the 1940s. Having previously done set decoration for previous Ryan Murphy projects, this was his first-ever job as a production designer on a TV series. “I was thrilled and honored that he trusted me to do the job so I took it and ran with it,” Ferguson says in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby. “It was just a big collaboration.” Watch the new video interview above.
Every episode of “Hollywood” is a showcase for Ferguson’s production design, between the Golden Tip gas station, the interiors of Ace Studios, the behind the scenes of filming the movie “Meg” and the Oscars. For the gas station, “We found one on Glendale Boulevard and it was originally a Richfield gas station but it had been painted blue,” Ferguson explains. “It was no longer a gas station. It had been modified over the years and deconstructed so we made a deal with them and Ryan liked it.” For the Ace Studios set, the production designer modeled the interiors after two of the five major Hollywood studios of that era, RKO and MGM, “but we took our color palettes from the exterior of Paramount and took deeper saturations of those tones for the interior.”
Then there was the production within the production for the filming of “Meg.” “We brought in all of the period equipment and we built the flats and the set pieces and then addressed all of the 21st issues that we had on our soundstage, hide those, build period-looking flats so we could come out of our set to then show the world making the movie,” Ferguson states. Similarly, the finale features a replication of the 20th Academy Awards, and while they wanted to film at the Shrine Auditorium, it was being used for the SAG Awards that week. As such, “We had to work around them for the exterior and it was tough because we had very limited time for prep,” Ferguson recalls. “They were deconstructing their scaffolding and we were coming in with our 1948 cars and limousines and setting that up.”
Working on “Hollywood” was a dream come true for Ferguson. “We all worked so hard and I think everyone really cared about the project so it helped lift the spirits and keep us moving, ‘cause it was tough at times,” the designer admits. “It’s been a joy and I’ve loved the whole process.”