An out-of-body experience, that’s how Dennis Gassner describes the experience of the design production behind the World War I epic 1917, nominated for 10 different Academy Awards, the Oscars. Get inside the design set of 1917 and find how this one long shot take movie was born.
Based on a story told by the director’s grandfather, the World War I epic 1917 deals with the story of two British soldiers whose mission is to deliver a letter that prevents the slaughter of 1,700 men by german soldiers. It’s the kind of dream that came from such an interesting place as Sam Mendes’s grandfather’s stories that were told to Sam in a very eloquent manner. I thought, what was the journey like from a young boy who was 17 years old and given the assignment to take a message to save 1,700 men?
Before Dennis Gassner joined 1917 as the film’s production designer, he was literally at the End of the Road, that’s what was written on a sign in Alaska just before the Pacific Ocean. And that’s when he got an email from Sam Mendes that read Don’t do the Bond film—I have a film—very ambitious. Sending script. You, Roger, me. What do you think?.
Gassner passed on the James Bond movie No Time to Die and joined Mendes on 1917. The duo had already done three Bond movies, including Skyfall and Spectre. In a curious note the last film even opened with a sequence shot in a single take, giving him a taste of what was in store for 1917.
Dennis Gassner told to The Wrap that filming the rigors of war in a series of long takes was just one of the many challenges that the Canadian designer faced. We choreographed the shots inch by inch, and time was our enemy, Gassner says, It was like we were designing the war metaphorically. Building trenches in the mud, not knowing what lay underneath, We wanted to make sure Stonehenge was not under there, he jokes, this was just a few of the many ordeals. He as became expert in trench design, they created mini living areas every 10–15 feet for the soldiers. War-torn villages complete with a burned-out church and 150 buildings designed in 3D modeling were re-created on the back lots of London’s Shepperton Studios.
The film is basically a piece of choreography, he said. It’s an amazing brutalist dance, but also takes on a very dreamscape quality. We measured everything. Once we knew our journey, then we could start to plug in the architecture.
Gassner said that the longest task on 1917 was designing a bombed-out French city that served as a nightmarish set piece midway through the film. The city of starkly lit ruins had to be constructed mainly as a figment of our imagination. But within that framework, Gassner had to accommodate how the camera would be able to pivot 360 degrees or enter and exit each room.
It was building knowledge through choreography, through story, through movement that we did basically in the field with cones, stakes, moving around and adjusting, adjusting, adjusting, he said.
1917 may be ambitious, but Gassner said he, Deakins and Mendes have been around long enough to have faith in their abilities.
Everybody said it was impossible, Gassner said. The studio said, ‘Impossible–how are you going to do this?’ ‘Well, we’ll figure it out.’ “At the end, everybody said, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what hard work is.
Not also we recommend you to watch 1917, we will also make a lighting sugestion, that may be perfect for you. In the war movies theme we picked the ideal piece to light your room just like Dennis would love.
Explosion is reminiscent the vast cosmos of modern lighting designs. With a high prestige and a revivalist attitude, this suspension salutes the Sputnik. A strong attention to mighty and luxury detail are reflected in the numerous slim gold plated brass and crystal arms which orbit around a center sphere.
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