Our bud at Star Wars Always pointed us towards this Coming Soon interview with Rick Carter, one of the production designers for Star Wars Episode VII. If you’re not familiar with him, just know he was a production designer on Back to the Future Part II and III, Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, A.I., War of the Worlds, Avatar, and Lincoln. The dude is no joke. He got the chops, that’s for damn sure!
Just to fill in the duties of a P.D., we can look to the Wikipedia article:
From early in pre-production, the production designer collaborates with the director and director of photography to establish the visual feel and specific aesthetic needs of the project. The production designer guides key staff in other departments such as the costume designer, the key hair and make-up stylists, the special effects director and the locations manager (among others) to establish a unified visual appearance to the film.
I offered my services to Kathy Kennedy who I had known for a long time. I said, ‘If you’re going to get involved with ‘Star Wars‘ in this new generation, I’d love to be a part of the dialogue and help.’ She invited me in last January and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Then J.J. [Abrams] came in and we hit it off.
It is interesting he was involved with the film before J.J. Abrams was involved. It still remains to be seen when Darren Gilford came aboard. Some have suggested two P.D.s are on board to speed up the process behind the scenes. I am not so sure that is the case here and Carter paints a much different picture of the process behind the scenes.
On working with production designer Darren Gilford:
We’re kind of both production designing the movie as a team to help give J.J. the best of what his generation and the new generation can offer with Darren Gilford and also myself as a guide that takes us back to not so long, long ago, but to the ’70’s where I was around and making movies that old-fashioned way. Whenever we want to touch that level, it relates to something that’s not just being made up as though it’s new. It’s being rediscovered.
It almost sounds as if Star Wars Episode VII is going to try and look like a Star Wars film made in the 1980s, in terms of look and design. Either way, I look forward to the film having a unique look and feel.