"Making of" Classic Cinema Production Design

Book Review: Joe Alves – Designing ‘Jaws’

Book Cover.jpg

Publisher: Titan Books

Release Date: December 03, 2019

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) is one of the most enduring movies ever made. It has thrilled generations of audiences worldwide, and it is no wonder why there have been several books devoted to telling the story of the film’s production. On the surface, it may seem that another book on the subject is superfluous, but Dennis Prince’s beautiful new coffee table book zeros in on the enormous contributions of Joe Alves (the film’s production designer). Included are Joes’ stunning pre-production illustrations; handwritten location and production notes; on-set photographs; blueprints of the shark’s design and first-time publication of his complete catalogue of storyboards used to chart the heart-stopping action. Designing Jaws proves that there is still quite a bit more to learn about the film’s creation, and it adds to one’s appreciation of the film. Scholars will reference the book and fans will treasure it.


Production Design

Book Review: The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design

'The Filmmaker's Guide to Production Design' Cover

Publisher: Allworth Press

Release Date: May 1, 2002

Vincent Lobrutto’s “The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design” is a wonderful companion to Ward Preston’s “What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design.” While the latter book is a useful introduction to the responsibilities of the Art Director, Lobrutto’s text focuses in on the Production Designer in a bit more detail. The book is surprisingly comprehensive, and there is quite a bit of information to digest. It isn’t exactly one stop shopping for anyone with the desire of getting into the field of production design, but it is a rather solid foundation that one can build further knowledge upon. Future directors would also benefit from reading the text, because anyone with a vision needs to have a basic understanding of what is necessary to achieve that vision. “The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design” is recommended reading.

Review by: Devon Powell

Production Design

Book Review: What an Art Director Does

610453HWMVLPublisher: Silman-James Press

Release Date: July 1, 1994

This text by Ward Preston is an instructive and digestible introduction to a misunderstood filmmaking discipline. While the text is merely an introductory overview of the responsibilities that an art director takes on during a films production, it is an overview that should provide a solid foundation for students to build additional knowledge upon. Preston’s writing stile is never scholarly. Instead, he simply imparts wisdom in the simplest of terms so that the reader can digest the information quickly and effectively. He also occasionally gives the reader short anecdotes that make the reading experience a pleasant one. “What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design” is recommended reading for anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of the filmmaking process.

Review by: Devon Powell

Production Design

Book Review: Film Craft: Production Design


Publisher: Focal Press

Release Date: October 1, 2012

The FilmCraft book series focuses on specific disciplines within the filmmaking profession using interviews from noteworthy professionals in the field. This volume by Fionnuala Halligan features interviews with sixteen production designers, and profiles of five other production designers.

The production designers interviewed in this volume are:

Ken Adam

Jim Bissell

Rick Carter

William Chang Suk-ping

Stuart Craig

Nathan Crowley

Dante Ferretti

Jack Fisk

Antxón Gómez

Sarah Greenwood

Grant Major

Alex McDowell

John Myhre

Eve Stewart

Yohei Taneda

Dean Tavoularis

The production designers profiled are:

John Box

Cedric Gibbons

William Cameron Menzies

Ferdinando Scarfiotti

Richard Sylbert

There may be a number of people that question the choice of production designers interviewed in this volume, but it would be nearly impossible to include every relevant artist currently working in this field. The individuals chosen for this volume come from very diverse backgrounds. This makes each of the interviews unique and valuable. Any reservations that one initially has are likely to fade once they start reading the book.

There is a wealth of conflicting information related to the readers. The idea that holds the volume together is that each of the artists has a unique approach to their job that set them apart from others working in the field. The book is especially valuable due to the fact that many people do not understand what a production designer actually does.

The text is illustrated with wonderful photos and concept sketches from recognizable films. This makes the book a visual treat. FilmCraft: Production Design will be a treasured addition to the libraries of anyone who loves the cinema, and a wonderful resource of inspiration to future filmmakers.

Review by: Devon Powell

Alfred Hitchcock Filmmakers Production Design

Book Review: The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock Master

Wrong House herdruk cover ISBN9789462080966 web

Publisher: Nai010 Publishers

Release Date: April 30, 2014

“Settings, of course, come into the preliminary plan, and usually I have a fairly clear idea about them; I was an art student before I took up with films. Sometimes I even think of backgrounds first.” -Alfred Hitchcock

Having worked as a set designer in the early 1920s, Hitchcock remained intensely concerned with the art direction of his films, which feature a remarkable collection of Victorian manors, suburban dwellings, modernist villas, urban mansions, and posh penthouses. Some remarkable single-set films, such as Rope or Rear Window, explicitly deal with the way the confines of the set relate to those of the architecture on screen. In this book, Steven Jacobs discusses how Hitchcock’s cinematic spaces are connected with the narrative, the characters, and the mise-en-scène of his films.

Perhaps the best description of the book comes from Jacobs himself (in the book’s…

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