Production design panel: Jim Bissell, Gae Buckley, Shane Valentino, Jeremy Woodward
Before production designers can create the worlds for characters and audiences to get lost in, they first have to do research, which all four of our Meet the Experts: Film Production Design panelists — Gae Buckley (“I’m Your Woman”), Jim Bissell (“The Midnight Sky”), Jeremy Woodward (“Sound of Metal”) and Shane Valentino (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) — agree is their favorite part of the process.
“You immerse yourself in so many interesting details and see what comes out of the blue,” Bissell says, before sharing one memorable experience on “E.T.” (1982), when the titular alien was getting sick in the classic film. “We were researching how to isolate the creature and what the procedures and protocol would be, and it was about different levels of cleanliness. We made the final assumption that we were trying to protect E.T. from the environment; we were not trying to protect the environment from E.T.,” Bissell recalls.
He and his team found a PPC plastic that was “pretty impervious to micro particles coming through” to cover the house. “You could isolate the house by creating a positive pressure flow underneath,” he continues. “It was just beautiful. I thought this was gonna be fantastic, but the moment of reality came when I was sitting out there with … a 90×100 piece of plastic and we were trying to figure out how to get it over the house, but we did. I thought it was a pretty stunning image.”
For Woodward, he amassed a ton of knowledge about mining gold when he worked on the 2016 film “Gold,” in which Matthew McConaughey played a prospector looking for the metal in Indonesian jungles that will probably only be useful in trivia games one day. “I know more about really geologic core samples and field-mining explorations than I ever thought I would need to know,” he quips. “Techniques, just the whole kit — it was really great.”
Watch our full panel to find out Buckley’s and Valentino’s favorite thing they’ve learned and more.