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The Joe Farley Award 2019: Congratulations to the winner, Eve Finnie

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Another year and another batch of eight hopeful Production Design students at the NFTS readied themselves to present their work to Mark and his guest judge.

This year Mark was joined by the ever exuberant Crispian Sallis. Crispian has been Oscar nominated for Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’, James Cameron’s ‘Alien’, Bruce Beresford’s ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and won an Emmy for The Tudors.

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As ever, Mark and Crispian were treated to some exciting designs, beautiful models and innovative ideas from this year’s crop of budding Production Design students.

After much deliberation Mark and Crispian decided to award Eve Finnie with the Joe Farley Production Design Award 2019.

Eve Finnie in front of her winning presentation

Eve’s presentation of a scene from The Twelve Dancing Princesses was very accomplished but the stand out feature was her intricate model. The extensive time Eve spent on her model was evident as was her attention to detail to the rest of the project. She focused on the Enchanted Castle set and took the few Islamic design references from the book to a whole other level. Crispian and Mark were concerned that it would be tricky to shoot in such a detailed build but Eve had made allowances for this by including plenty of floating walls, proposals for the use of a Steadicam and detailed digital storyboarding. Eve’s designs for the lighting fixtures and transportation ‘cages’ were well considered as were her drawings which had an ‘enchanted fairy-tale’ feel in keeping with the story.

We wish Eve every success for the future and look forward to seeing her career in design go from strength to strength. Congratulations Eve!

Mark and Crispian met with eight students throughout the course of the day, each with their own individual styles and ideas.

The day started off with Adrian Makarewicz (in image below). Adrian’s energetic presentation focused on a wedding scene from the fantasy novel, The Gospel of Loki. Adrian had chosen to set his scene in a dramatic ice cave combining traditional architectural features combined with carved ice and natural rock formations. Crispian and Mark could see several areas where Adrian could expand on existing ideas and designs and Adrian seemed enthusiastic to expand on his existing design.

Emanuela Piu was the second entrant of the day and took us on a journey through virtual reality as part of her project. She embraced the emerging technology and we were able to transport ourselves in to her main set, the Martian House from The Martian Chronicles, and explore the elements in more detail which helped to bring her design to life. A great experience. Emanuela also included some lovely renderings in her presentation and had considered the lighting, materials and lots of details by closely studying the text.

Kate Beard gave a very clear synopsis of her chosen text, The Fall of the House of Usher, which meant Mark and Crispian could jump straight in to analysing her work. Kate’s work was very well considered throughout. She’d interpreted the text well but had included many of her own ideas whilst still maintaining the flow of the story. Mark and Crispian particularly liked her use of the space, her versatile set and beautifully made model and set design. The symbolism throughout the set was very well thought through from the gargoyles giving the characters a sense of being watched, the set reflecting the story by getting progressively more ‘decayed’ and the widening crack symbolic of the journey of the main character. Kate’s lovely renderings, photoshop drawings and colour palette added to a very well thought out body of work.

Paulina Camacho also explored The Gospel of Loki for her project which centred around a maze where the goddess was located. In this case, the repetition on the set worked very well and gave the sense of being lost in the space. Mark and Crispian though she had made good use of the tank on set and had some great ideas for set dressing to give the sense of it being a ‘drowned world’. Paulina’s interest in Set Dec was evident and she came alive when discussing the finer details that she envisaged going in to the set.

Someone who had clearly studied their chosen text, ‘Heroes and Villains’, in great detail was Eva Calland-Waller. Her detailed knowledge allowed her to use her imagination to elaborate on the minimal details specified in the text. Eva wanted her set design to have some grounding in reality so took inspiration from the architecture of the Cotswolds but included quite a mix of other ideas including setting the story in our future in the remains after a great fire and set within the backdrop of climate change. Eve had also considered her interior shots and had included lots of floating walls and ceilings to allow for camera angles. Mark and Crispian offered some advice for slight adjustments to the layout of the set which would allow for even more camera angles and make the most of her clock tower which was quite an important feature on her complex set.

We revisited ‘The Twelve dancing Princesses’ with our next applicant, Milly White, who had interpreted the story in a totally unique way and transported us to African tribe lands. Milly was inspired to look at strong groups of African women who’s dance and music culture lent itself well to the text. Her thoroughly researched reference material got her ideas across quickly and clearly.
Mark and Crispian very much liked her set and model but felt that the entrance archways slightly overpowered the charm of the horseshoe shaped set at the heart of which was a beautifully modelled head of an African woman with a waterfall for hair. Milly had great drawings and elevations to accompany her model. With some slight tweaks (most of which Milly had already considered herself) the set would work even better. Mark and Crispian were impressed with what was one of the most original concepts of the day.

Last but by no means least was Freddie Burrows with ‘The Bloody Chamber’. A morbid tale of a man living on a resource drained island who ritualistically murders his many wives and drains them of their energy. Despite the gruesome storyline, Freddie managed to bring in a fusion of nature and industrial motifs which worked well together. Parts of his set had a nod to steampunk and Crispian felt that this could have been taken even further to benefit the design.
Freddie also included some beautifully rendered drawings, great reference material and was the only applicant to photograph his model in detail which produced some very atmospheric and illustrative shots.

As ever, we had a wonderful day at the National Film and
Television School and enjoyed meeting each and every applicant, many of whom we
hope to see working in the industry in the near future.

A huge thank you goes to Caroline Amies and Michelle Hosier
for coordinating the day and making us all so welcome. A special thank you also
goes to Crispian for being such an enthusiastic and encouraging fellow judge.