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YEAR ONE

The Look Of The Year One
For Production Designer Jefferson Sage, Year One marks a reunion with both Harold Ramis, having had worked as Art Director on Analyze This, and Judd Apatow for whom he designed The TV Set, Knocked Up, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and the upcoming Funny People. Sage was immediately struck by "the chance to create a period world that had a lot of distinct references to history. Year One is essentially a road movie, where they encounter very specific different worlds.” Sage went about creating these worlds by first researching the different periods represented in the story. "We collected a lot of visual research. At the beginning, I made a big book of research and sent it to Harold. It immediately gave us all a common reference point in terms of what the movie should look like.” Together with Ramis and Alar Kivilo, the director of photography, Sage decided to go for a style that sticks as closely to reality as possible, rather than give Zed and Oh a stylized or comedic setting.

"The comedy comes from these odd characters and very contemporary kind of sensibilities against the hard edges of that world,” he explains. The worlds that the story called for include a Paleolithic stone-age village where the main characters Zed, Oh, Maya, and Eema are introduced; the farming hamlet; a desert setting, where the characters discover the new phenomenon of the marketplace; and, finally, the broad and wild city of Sodom. "Part of our job was to make each of those distinct and give them their own set of rules that could help differentiate one from the next. Each one suggests its own palette, color and textures,” says Sage. "For example, in the Paleolithic village, one of the rules is there's no metal because at that time, these guys haven't discovered metal yet.” The biggest challenge, and biggest set, was Sodom. "When I read the script, I thought, ‘That's the biggest set I've ever seen, let alone worked on,'” says Sage.

Sage would end up building the entire city on five acres of land: three separate streets, all dressed with market vendors, houses, doorways and windows; three separate squares; a blind alley connecting two streets; a palace with a courtyard; a Ziggurat (a terraced, pyramid temple); a royal pavilion; and a sacred sacrificial space. It was the equivalent of 46 separate sets. "I think our Sodom is reasonably authentic,” says Sage.

"We looked at fortified cities from similar periods and studied details about them, and then we put those together into our own kind of vision of Sodom.” But once they had done the research and were well-schooled in the look of the era, it was time to branch out. "At a certain point, I put the research down, and we began to create our own rules.” An example of this is the enormous bull's head that served as a centerpiece for the main square. Says Sage, "I didn't find a specific idol of the specific size and scale we use in the film, but the bull's head was very common throughout religious cultures in that area for thousands of years; we found representations of that in sculpture and friezes and in jewelry.

We made it a 27-foot-tall fire breathing stone idol that would work as well for the script – they're sacrificing virgins and tossing them inside. Many idols existed at the time, but it seemed like the bull, with its commanding, domineering face, made sense dramatically.” With Sodom designed, the question became how the filmmakers would light the massive set. Before construction could begin, they had to situate the set on the site. Keeping in mind that the set would be shot in the winter months in Louisiana, the filmmakers planned out the details. "We took the plan of the city and rotated it to see what gave us the most advantageous sunlight into the city. We wanted the sunlight to fall a certain way across the Ziggurat, across the plaza and in

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