Browse Articles by J. Don Birnam

The Little Things Makeup Designer Donald Mowat on Making Jared Leto Look Believably Insane

March 2021
<em>The Little Things</em> Makeup Designer Donald Mowat on Making Jared Leto Look Believably Insane

One of Hollywood’s most prolific and sought-after makeup artists, Donald Mowat, is on the short-list for the Academy Awards this year for his work on John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things. Mowat has decades of industry experience, with credits to his name including Blade Runner 2049, Stronger, Sicario, Nightcrawler, The Fighter, and another film about a misunderstood... »

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Posted in Contender Portfolios, Featured, Film, Interviews, Makeup |

United States v. Billie Holiday Production Designer Daniel Dorrance on Recreating Café Society and More

March 2021
<em>United States v. Billie Holiday</em> Production Designer Daniel Dorrance on Recreating Café Society and More

In Lee Daniels’ new film, The United States v. Billie Holiday, we catch a glimpse into the life of the iconic jazz singer during the 1930s and 40s, as she descends into drug abuse and despair while targeted by federal law enforcement officials. Starring Andra Day as Holiday, the period piece required Daniels and... »

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Posted in Art Direction, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s Editing Team on Cutting Footage Capturing COVID and U.S. Political History

March 2021
<em>Borat Subsequent Moviefilm</em>’s Editing Team on Cutting Footage Capturing COVID and U.S. Political History

As far as pandemic films go, we have heard of movies that were postponed entirely because of COVID, and those that were made entirely after the shutdown began. One film perhaps will occupy a special place in the historical pantheon—a film that was shot both before, during, and after the epidemic began. A three-time... »

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Posted in Editing, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Promising Young Woman Costume Designer Nancy Steiner on Creating a Character’s Persona Entirely with Clothing

February 2021
Promising Young Woman Costume Designer Nancy Steiner on Creating a Character’s Persona Entirely with Clothing

Newcomer writer/director Emerald Fennell has received widespread acclaim—including a Best Director Golden Globe nomination—for her feature directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, and rightly so. It’s a film that stuns viewers with its daring, original, and unexpected take on the hot button but fraught issue of sexual abuse. The movie is anchored by an arguably... »

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Posted in Costume Design, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Sound of Metal Editor Mikkel E.G. Nielsen on Creating an Immersive Audience Experience

February 2021
<em>Sound of Metal</em> Editor Mikkel E.G. Nielsen on Creating an Immersive Audience Experience

Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal, about a rock drummer who loses his hearing, has earned deserved praise this awards season for, among other things, the impressive sound techniques it uses to recreate for the audience the experience of being unable to hear. Starring Riz Ahmed as recovering addict Ruben, the Amazon Studios film has... »

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Posted in Editing, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Review: Andra Day’s Powerful, Passionate Performance Lifts The United States v. Billie Holiday

February 2021
Review: Andra Day’s Powerful, Passionate Performance Lifts <em>The United States v. Billie Holiday</em>

Lee Daniels became a mainstay as a director after his powerful Precious garnered awards attention in 2009. In that film, Daniels told the difficult story about a young girl’s oppression at the hands of a villainous mother, who was herself the product of an evil system of inequality and injustice that has for so long... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Production Designer Mark Ricker on Constructing a Split-Level Recording Studio

February 2021
<em>Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom</em> Production Designer Mark Ricker on Constructing a Split-Level Recording Studio

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the Denzel Washington-produced film based on the August Wilson play, is a technical delight in addition to an acting powerhouse. As previously reported, the film covers a particular episode in the famed singer’s life (played by Viola Davis), as she was trying to make a record in a Chicago studio in... »

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Posted in Art Direction, Crafts Spotlight, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Artist Profile: Costume Designer Trish Summerville Discusses Her Work on David Fincher’s Mank

February 2021
Artist Profile: Costume Designer Trish Summerville Discusses Her Work on David Fincher’s <em>Mank</em>

David Fincher’s Mank focuses on screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz as he puts the final touches on the script for Citizen Kane. The action, set in 1930s Hollywood, features luminaries from Irving Thalberg, William Randolph Hearts, and, of course, Orson Welles. Mank’s plot, however, it focuses on Gary Oldman as the principal character and on a... »

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Posted in Costume Design, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Craft Spotlight: One Night in Miami… Production Designer on Those Hotel Rooms and Working with Regina King

February 2021
Craft Spotlight: <em>One Night in Miami…</em> Production Designer on Those Hotel Rooms and Working with Regina King

Oscar winner and now director Regina King has already garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her work on One Night in Miami…, about a fictionalized meeting between four crucial figures in American history in 1964. Set mostly in a cramped hotel room in Florida, the story features Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), the boxer who... »

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Posted in Art Direction, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Editor Kristan Sprague on Creating Tense Drama for Judas and the Black Messiah

February 2021
Editor Kristan Sprague on Creating Tense Drama for <em>Judas and the Black Messiah</em>

Threatened with prosecution by the FBI, William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) instead becomes a turncoat infiltrating the Black Panther party in the 1960s. His mission? To help bring down the leader of the Illinois chapter, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). The two actors — who collaborated together in the Oscar-winning Get Out — steal the show... »

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Posted in Editing, Featured, Film, Interviews |