Saturday, April 20, 2024
Subscribe Now

Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

HomeAwardsContender-Dante Ferretti-Prod Design-Sweeney Todd

Contender-Dante Ferretti-Prod Design-Sweeney Todd

-

For Oscar- and BAFTA-winning production designer Dante Ferretti, working for the first time with director Tim Burton on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, could have easily resulted in a clash of artistic wills. Burton’s films, such as Batman and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, are known for their distinctive sets. The same is true for Ferretti, whose credits include films as diverse as The Aviator, Titus and Gangs of New York.
Instead the duo proved to be a perfect match. “He’s great to work with because he’s also an artist and we inspired each other,” says Ferretti, “and it turned out we were usually thinking along the same lines.” Burton reminded him in some respects of Italian director Federico Fellini, with whom Ferretti did six films. “Because Tim is so creative, he’s always making little sketches, exactly like Fellini,” he observes. “The two are very close to each other in this way.”
Based on the 1979 Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd tells the story of Benjamin Barker, played by Oscar nominee Johnny Depp, a falsely accused and imprisoned convict who returns to London after escaping his jail in Australia and seeks revenge on the judge who sentenced him. Assuming the new name of Sweeney Todd, he sets up shop at his old barbershop quarters and embarks on a throat-slitting spree. Macabre, dark and blood-soaked, the challenge for Ferretti was to do justice to the highly acclaimed Sondheim show while giving it the full cinematic treatment for which Burton is famous.
For Sweeney Todd, Burton wanted a stylized version of 19th-century London reminiscent of classic black-and-white horror movies of the 1930s. And he gave the production designer a DVD of Son of Frankenstein as a model. Ferretti’s designs rely on a desaturated color palette consisting mainly of grays and blacks. Against this backdrop, the abundant spurts of crimson blood stand out vividly.
The initial idea was to do the sets by and large using computer graphics in the vein of Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. However, Depp and other actors in the film felt constrained by the absence of sets. “For the actors, when you play something, you’re on a real set, which is better than to do it against a green screen,” notes the production designer.
The decision to construct the complex sets, using CGI only for extensions, required a far greater effort by Ferretti and his team, which includes his long-time set decorator and co-Oscar nominee for Sweeney Todd, Francesca Lo Schiavo, who is also his wife. “Everything was built from scratch and everything was built on soundstages” at Pinewood Studios near London, he says. One highlight set: A full-scale re-creation of London’s Fleet Street as it looked in the Victorian era. Ferretti is also an Art Directors Guild nominee for excellence in production design for a 2007 theatrical feature.
These days, Ferretti is working on Shutter Island for director Martin Scorsese, with whom he’s collaborated on a half dozen films. Ferretti also continues to design sets for major opera productions. The latest project is The Fly, an opera based on the David Cronenberg film, with music by Howard Shore, who did the original soundtrack. It will premiere opening night of the 2008/2009 Los Angeles Opera season.
–by Jack Egan

2008 Nominations
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, Sweeney Todd
Art Directors Guild, Excellence in Production Design for a Period or Fantasy Feature Film, Sweeny Todd
2006 Win
Camerimage, Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Production Design
2005 Wins
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, The Aviator
BAFTA, Best Production Design, The Aviator
2005 Nomination
Art Directors Guild, Excellence in Production Design for a Period or Fantasy Feature Film, The Aviator
2004 Nomination
BAFTA, Best Production Design, Cold Mountain
2003 Nominations
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, Gangs of New York
Art Directors Guild, Excellence in Production Design for a Period or Fantasy Feature Film, Gangs of New York
BAFTA, Best Production Design, Gangs of New York
2000 Nomination
Art Directors Guild, Excellence in Production Design for a Period or Fantasy Feature Film, Titus
1998 Nominations
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, Kundun
Oscar, Best Costume Design, Kundun
1995 Win
BAFTA, Best Production Design, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
1995 Nomination
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
1994 Nominations
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, The Age of Innocence
BAFTA, Best Production Design, The Age of Innocence
1991 Nomination
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hamlet
1990 Win
BAFTA, Best Production Design, The Adventures of Baron Munchauesen
1990 Nomination
Oscar, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, shared with Francesca Lo Schiavo, The Adventures of Baron Munchauesen

Written by Jack Egan

- Advertisment -

Popular

Beowulf and 3-D

0
By Henry Turner Beowulf in 3D is a unique experience, raising not just questions about future of cinema, but also posing unique problems that the...