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HomeAwardsAwards Portfolio: Anthony Pratt/Phantom

Awards Portfolio: Anthony Pratt/Phantom

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There’s an immediate sense of that famous English modesty and reserve when Anthony Pratt sits down to talk. A favorite of such directors as John Boorman, Neil Jordan and Richard Attenborough, his enormous range runs the gamut of intimate dramas like The End of the Affair to Herculean epics on the order of Band of Brothers.His latest, The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher, is in his own words: “quite big.”Pratt actually stepped into the musical epic following the departure of another production designer, so the foundation of the picture’s look was already in progress and he was the one catching up. Still, it was early in preproduction and he found himself confronted with realizing the mammoth creation of the opera house and the Phantom’s lair nestled in the sewer system. He had seen the stage production years earlier and immediately went back for a second look, and that rekindled memories of evocative designs that would have to be retranslated for film.“Joel’s background is in production and costume design, so he knows what he wants in those areas,” observes Pratt. “He also can describe it in a way that cuts right to the chase. He could see that I was struggling with the opera house and one day just said to me, ‘make it sexy.’ That immediately put it into perspective.”Pratt says that the sleight-of-hand involved was in grounding everything realistically and then pushing it slightly off kilter. In retrospect he can’t recall a working experience where the key creatives worked so completely in concert, and credits Schumacher for providing a strong guiding influence both in preproduction and throughout filming.“Of course we initially had a number of meetings with all the departments to thrash things out,” says Pratt. “But it’s amazing how few meetings you need when things are going well. It was at times so effortless that I’m not really sure what I brought to the table. You’ll have to ask Joel about that.”Schumacher has an easy response: “He’s a genius.” – Len Klady

Written by Len Klady

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