Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Anatomy of a Scene: Talking the 'Her' Office with Oscar-Nominated Production Designer K.K. Barrett

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood January 31, 2014 at 2:05PM

Spike Jonze's beautiful and beguiling "Her," the dark horse in the best picture Oscar race, offers a warm and inviting fusion of LA/Shanghai, with its intoxicating use of red. And the opening scene in the office -- a high rise on Hope near Bunker Hill -- wonderfully sets up the delicate mood and world inhabited by the forlorn Joaquin Phoenix. Oscar-nominated production designer K.K. Barrett discusses his artistic choices and the impact.
0
'Her'
'Her'

"It's the introduction to his world, it's the atmosphere, whether it's going to be heavy or light, it's sleight of hand because it begins close-up and opens wider and we see more and more of what's going on. It involves some of the major conceit of the film: that he's working with an operating system that is intuitive and voice-activated, although we don't know to what degree these operating systems could be intuitive. 

"And so with the light we had very limited time to be in there. I couldn't build graphically or paint, so I built a modular system of color plexiglass towels that would be on the windows and the skylights for shifting color throughout the day and they would also be in cubicles that would separate them from one another. You could see through them so it wouldn't be like they were firmly separated, and it didn't block the light from bouncing around the room, and it gave it a thematic look all the way through. And the color [predominantly red] livened up the atmosphere and made it more playful." 

Besides personalizing the different work areas with the tools of their trade, including individualized stationary, they also made blow-ups of hand-drawn outlines with people doing comfortable activities that were mounted on the walls.

"You don't want to make him feel depressed by his world -- this is your first chance. And you also can't play the hand that it's so light and fun that there's no place to believe the weight that he carries later. And Spike wanted to start close-up on his face and get wider and wider. As he gets up from the desk, we pan around to see everybody else working and then later he gets up and walks toward the front where he engages with the receptionist in playful banter and then we see the sign that says, 'Beautiful Hand-Written Letters.'"

As beginnings go, it's pretty marvelous, and we're easily hooked. "His character is going to be a slow reveal and you're going to find the depth of this displacement from other people as you go on, and you can't be hit over the head that he lives in this horrific, heavy environment. That's for the story to tell later..."

And what a love story for our time about virtual comfort, emotional longing, and spiritual awakening.

This article is related to: Her, Spike Jonze, production design, Immersed In Movies, Oscars, Thompson on Hollywood, Interviews , Awards, Awards Season Roundup


E-Mail Updates