20th October London Trip Part 2 – David Wasco & The Royal Tenenbaums

So the real intention of my London trip last weekend was to attend the David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco Production Design Masterclass at BAFTA.

David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco are a husband-and-wife design team that are most well known for their work with Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore) and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Jackie Brown, Inglorious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs). Both of these directors have hugely recognisable work. I was very curious to find out how much input the design team had in the look of these films.

The film I was most interested in (perhaps unsurprisingly) was The Royal Tenenbaums. This is one of the best films for character setup.

Comparing the scenes for the three children really show how the set decoration and colours were carefully considered for each character.

The zebra wallpaper for Margot’s room was apparently a particularly difficult find, which has since become very popular.

The last of the three is my favourite. This is the most childlike room and sets him up as the most sympathetic character which is important as he goes through one of the most emotional journeys in the film.

Take a look at the colour change used in the scenes below.

screencapsThis film also has a particularly striking use of primary colours.

A book I’ve been looking at recently is If It’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling by Patti Bellantoni. It considers colour symbolism in film, for example, idyllic or cautionary yellows, powerless or melancholy blues and anxious or defiant reds. There are other meanings for each colour, but I find these the most interesting.

Another interesting way of analysing at the use of colour in film is by looking at movie barcodes. This is when an entire film is compressed into a colour barcode.

This is the barcode for the Royal Tenenbaums, you can clearly see the blue section in the film which is hugely striking in comparison to the other sections.

You can see other movie barcodes at MovieBarcode.

I could go on about this film, particularly the framing of the shots, but as that was not the Wascos’ job I wont talk about it too much. Just take a quick look at these shots.

The first two shots are from the same scene, setting up the father character. We are not meant to relate to him as you can see from the distance he is away from the camera compared to the children. The last frame is from much further into the film when we start to sympathise with him as a character.

2 thoughts on “20th October London Trip Part 2 – David Wasco & The Royal Tenenbaums

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