Melanie Allen interview: ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ production designer

“We’re much more involved in subliminally telling the story of a drama,” argues Melanie Allen about her role as a production designer on Netflix’s “Anatomy of a Scandal.” Based on the popular novel by Sarah Vaughan, the limited series tells the story of Sophie and James Whitehouse (Sienna Miller and Rupert Friend), an upper class couple who have everything they want. Their marriage is thrown into turmoil after James, a rising star in British politics, is accused of sexual assault. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Allen describes creating the world of an upper class couple and the challenge of bringing a page-turner to the screen.

Allen describes the Whitehouse home as one of the more challenging sets to create. The designer says that it was important for the space to have a majestic quality to reflect the upper class couple’s wealth and power. “They were the golden couple,” she explains. “Their lives had just never been touched. They’d had this perfect happy life up until this point. And that also comes from the way it was lit. It gave it a warmth to it. Our choice of color palette and the lighting affected that.”

The opposite was true for the home of Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery) the hard-nosed prosecutor with secrets of her own. Allen describes the importance of Kate’s apartment as it relates to the character’s secretive nature. “It was actually quite hard to do her home because we couldn’t give away her past,” she explains. “By choosing a location that was mostly about the views and the transit space, it starts to tell you less about her and more about where she lives.”

For the show’s many courtroom scenes, Allen describes the importance of creating a space that reflected a real British courtroom, but was also flexible enough to accommodate the shooting needs of director S.J. Clarkson. “What was really important for S.J. was that we have the flexibility to move areas because we were filming in there for five or six weeks,” says Allen. “She wanted to be able to do shots where she could move different elements of it.”

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UPLOADED Jun 14, 2022 3:30 pm