Oscar 2023: This is how the sets of the nominated films were designed

During the 95th Academy Awards 2023 Oscars, The stars and creators of this year’s Oscar-nominated films will reunite at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Unlike last year, in which eight categories – including Best Production Design – were relegated to a previous screening, this year the winners of the 23 categories will be announced during the ceremony, which will begin at 6 p.m. Mexico City).

The films nominated for the Oscar 2023 for the best production design they represent a wide variety of world-building stories and techniques. With a whole range of ingenuity and creativity, these films transport the viewer through design. Below, we explore the movie magic used to create these five nominated films.

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No news at the front

Nominees: Production designer Christian M. Goldbeck and decorator Ernestine Hipper

Main filming locations: A former Soviet airfield in Milovice (Czech Republic); other locations around Prague, and the Barrandov studios in Prague.

Total production budget: 20 million dollars

Low Reiner.

“We only use materials that would have been used in 1917,” says Christian Goldbeck.

For this World War I drama centering on a young German soldier fighting the French, hundreds of meters of trenches were dug at an airfield in the Czech Republic. Although some 15 machines were used to dig the initial holes, a landscaping crew of 60, a carpentry crew of 160, and about 30 scenic painters were hired. to make the battlefield look as authentic as possible. “The problem with bulldozers is that they can only dig square holes,” jokes Goldbeck, a first-time Oscar nominee. “We had a beautiful garden department, but they didn’t do a lot of greening, so I decided to call them the mud team instead.”

Low Reiner.

An aerial view of the trenches used in No news at the front.

The trenches also had a drainage system, as a lot of water had to be used to make the scene appear as wet and uncomfortable as it would have been in real life: “We thought that the audience should not only be able to see the sets, but also smell them,” says Goldbeck. In another camp, the soldiers’ trenches were built entirely from scratch, a process Goldbeck estimates took two and a half months. And when filming ended, restoring the airfield to its original state was a feat in itself. “I have some beautiful photos of people taking care of the new grass,” adds Goldbeck. “Now it seems as if we were never there.”

Avatar: The Path of Water

Nominees: Production designers Dylan Cole and Ben Procter and decorator Vanessa Cole

Main filming locations: Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand, and Manhattan Beach Studios in Manhattan Beach, California.

Total production budget: $400 million (estimated)

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

“We’re working on a new universe and a new story arc that will ultimately be reflected in four movies,” says Procter.

The long-awaited big-budget sequel to the film Avatar (2009), from director James Cameron, further explores life on Pandora, and while visual effects technology is integral to this story, “there was a monstrous amount of set building,” says Cole. He was in charge of designing the world of Pandora and its inhabitants, the Na’vi, while Procter worked on the environment of the human characters. Most of the filming, which included live-action and “performance capture” shots, which are then digitally enhanced, was done in a studio in Wellington, New Zealand. “I emphasize that every movement of the characters you see in the film is captured,” says Procter, which means the actors aren’t just putting the voice on. offLike in an animated movie.

Mark Fellman / Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Kate Winslet and Cliff Curtis during the filming of Avatar: The path of water.

A new challenge on this occasion was the underwater filming, which took place at the Manhattan Beach studios in a tank of almost one million liters of water measuring 36 meters long, 18 meters wide and 9 meters deep, with a propeller system to create a current of 10 knots. The cast studied freediving to prepare, and Kate Winslet actually held her breath for a staggering seven minutes and 47 seconds during filming. Another obstacle? The fact that this team was filming the third installment of Avatar at the same time that the shape of water.

The Fabelmans

Nominees: Production designer Rick Carter and decorator Karen O’Hara

Main filming locations: Locations in the greater Los Angeles area, including a cul-de-sac of mid-century style homes, a ranch-style house and a Craftsman-style house; the Orpheum Theater and the El Rancho Theater; the Golden Oak and Club Ed movie ranches; Malibu’s Zuma Beach; the Susan Miller Dorsey Institute; and the sound stages of Santa Clarita, California.

Total production budget: 40 million dollars

Merie W Wallace.

“We did the snow scenes in Chatsworth, California, in 100-degree heat,” says Carter.

Inspired by the life of co-writer and director Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans It’s perhaps the “quietest” of the Best Production Design nominees, but it just goes to show the importance of home in a story about something all human beings experience: growing up. It was the eleventh time that Carter had worked with Spielberg, and for this very personal project three houses from different chapters of the filmmaker’s life were recreated, but accuracy was far less important than transporting the viewer to a different time period and emotional state: “Everyone props They were objects that Steven and his three sisters told Karen O’Hara, the decorator, and me that they remembered having in their lives,” says Carter.


Nominees: Production designers Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy and decorator Beverley Dunn

Main filming locations: Village Roadshow Studios in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Total production budget: 85 million dollars

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Some 300 cars and motorcycles were used in the production.

To design sets for an Elvis Presley biopic, There can only be one place to start: Graceland. Martin, Murphy and art director Chris Tangney traveled to Elvis’s legendary Memphis mansion before production began, and also made a stop at his birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi: “We were given unlimited access to Graceland and his archives” says Murphy. Notes and images from this visit, as well as other archival photographs, were later used for the crew to custom make nearly all of the furniture in the film, right down to the Hotel International set rug, which they had printed.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

“Elvis’s sense of personal style was very strong,” says Murphy.

They built their own Graceland in Australia, and the interior decoration changes slightly throughout the film as the years go by. A room that posed a special challenge was Elvis’s bedroom, since visitors are not allowed inside and there are no photographs of it: “It is at the request of the family that no one visit that bedroom. It was where he died and it was his inner sanctuary says Murphy. However, the Presley family made an exception for director Baz Luhrmann, who was allowed to view the room without taking photos: “He told us how he saw it, and Baz is very descriptive, very eloquent, and he also speaks in a way that is understandable. in terms of design, he told us about the technology in the room in the 1970s, the intercoms, radios and stereos on the nightstand, the TVs in the ceiling and the textures He described everything to us and we got to work to design something from a verbal description” says Murphy.


Nominees: Production designer Florencia Martin and decorator Anthony Carlino

Main filming locations: Historic California mansions and homes including Shea Castle, Castle Green, Hummingbird Ranch, Busby Berkley’s former Beaux Arts Mansion, Wattles Mansion, etc.; theaters from the 1920s, such as the United Artists Theater at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, and the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro, California; and Paramount studios.

Total production budget: 80 million dollars

Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures.

Margot Robbie as Nellie LaRoy in Babylonin a scene shot at the United Artists Theater at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

With a duration of three hours and nine minutes, this history of excesses and debauchery in the Hollywood of the 20s It is full of magnificent examples of the architecture of the period. During the days of silent movies, Los Angeles was in full swing and there were no modern glass houses of today. Pioneers in the film industry “built Tudor Revival, Gothic Revival and Spanish Revival buildings because they were trying to emulate what they thought was grand and beautiful,” Martin explains.

Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures.

The Spanish-style house of Brad Pitt’s character in the movie.

To furnish these properties, Carlino and Gay Perello, master of propsthey resorted to the large number of houses of props Los Angeles, including Warner Brothers. “Warner Brothers has its collection of antiques from Jack Warner’s wife when the studio was built in the ’20s and ’30s,” says Martin. “So it’s pretty amazing because you can get pieces that have been in use since the silent days.”

Article originally published in AD US.
Translation and adaptation by Fernanda Toral.

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