Rick Carter & Tom Wiscombe: Avatar (February 6, 2018)

Michael Stock introduces this installment of the SCI-Arc Cinema Series, featuring a screening of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) preceded by a conversation with its production designer, Rick Carter, and Tom Wiscombe. As a preface to the live conversation, Stock presents a brief clip from a documentary about the film’s production.

Tom Wiscombe and Rick Carter discuss the transition from the classic Hollywood art direction to present-day production design. Carter stresses collaboration over technology: attending to the central vision, and drawing forth information from others. The iterative process refines the vision, and ensures details relate organically to the story. Carter speaks of setting up moments in a journey, contributing to the “filmscape,”, i.e. not the story or the characters so much as where you go, and how you feel about it. He describes the challenge of working with Renzo Piano and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, trying to create a cinematic experiences that’s not a not a ride or theme park.

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