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THE SEEKER THE DARK IS RISING

Production Design
Scottish production designer David Lee was brought on board to bring the vivid story to life. His first feature film as production designer, Lee is, according to Cunningham, "the eternal optimist, and his bright light shines through any challenge. He's a fantastic guy and has built some fantastic sets. It's not been easy pulling off this size of a show in a country whose infrastructure is still growing and adapting to today's challenging ways of filmmaking.”

Marc Platt agrees. "David Lee has been, to my eye, one of the great art directors for many, many years, and I was anxious to give him an opportunity to be production designer,” syas the producer. "And David is from England, so he certainly knew the territory and the history that we were trying to recreate, and yet he was able to bring to all of his designs something unique, something slightly off kilter, something different that rendered the world unique and specific to our story.”

Production designer David Lee, whose previous work as art director includes BATMAN BEGINS, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, STAR WARS: THE REVENGE OF THE SITH and STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES, was given the daunting task of creating the look and feel of a larger-than-life fantasy epic that pivots on a physical and metaphysical battle between light and dark. 

As a production designer, David Lee's job is to break down the script into scenes, sets and environments which can either be built – as in sets – or locations that already exist or a combination of both. Months before the production on THE SEEKER began, Lee sat down with a pencil and a blank piece of paper and started drawing possibilities for film. "[Then] I sit with the director during the prep time and we map out the environment,” says Lee, "and the different journeys he's going to need to film.” Together, the designer and director fit all of the script's "pieces” into a coherent sequence of scenes and places, ready to be dressed, filled with actors and filmed. 

One key element of the film was the design of Huntercombe Manor. Huntercombe Manor's exterior was built from the ground up, but so real that visitors to the set thought the building had always been there. "We're in Romania and so obviously you're not going to find an existing location with that look, so we had to build this from scratch,” says Lee. "It's quite an opportunity - a good challenge to sort of build something indigenously English in a Romanian landscape.”

The visual take on Huntercombe Manor was drawn from many different reference points, Donney Court and other English stately homes – with one difference: the crucial window. "We decided that we would be best served with a double-height bay window,” says Lee, "which will eventually be the room which is flooded and frozen and burnt and various other things.”

Despite the complexity of Huntercombe Manor, the time taken to build such an impressive set was quick in film terms. "It was about seven weeks,” says Lee, "The big timber pylons went in about the twentieth of January and in a seven week build, there was quite a lot to do in a short amount of time.” 

"I think David Cunningham has been exceptional in this in terms of creating a huge enthusiasm. There's a real sense of camaraderie, which has been brilliant to work with,” says Lee. David Cunningham is, "very visceral,” says Lee. "He has a kinetic movement about the way he sees. There're always layers and levels about what David wants to see, so you have the sense, as the viewer, of finding through layers and levels and light and dark. Quite an amazing visionary, I think.”

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