One of the essential aspects of cinema is production design. With it, filmmakers are able to create immersive environments for the viewers to experience. Production designers make sure that the end product captures the atmosphere that the filmmakers want to project to the audience. We asked production designer Lars Magbanua to fill us in on her fascinating work and to share some experiences while working on Philippine cinema.
What is your background and how did you get into production design?
My major in college was Marketing and Advertising but my first job was a photographer and graphic designer for a studio in Makati. I have always been fascinated by films because it combines the different forms of art that I love. Literature, photography, music. I had this goal of becoming a writer and director but I did not have the time and money then to go to film school and so I started attending different workshops. From there, I met people from the industry and because of my background in design, I got my first full-length gig as a Production Designer for an Indie film. I gave up my dreams of becoming a director (no regrets) and realized that I want to be a Production Designer instead.
What's your typical process when you work on a film?
I collaborate with the director regarding the look that he wants for the project. From there, I do my research by watching other films, local and foreign. I break down the script by the number of locations, set-up, and props needed. And then I make the Production Design deck (If we have enough time, I layout the designs on SketchUp) present it to the director, once approved I start with the costing of the set design and props. This part of the process is the most stressful and frustrating because most of the time, with the limited budget given, you can't always achieve the look you want. But I guess that's where you get to challenge your creativity. In an ideal world, a Production Designer doesn't need to be on set during filming. He can work on designing on other sets for the project but because of budget reasons of some projects, I do my own art direction where I have to be on set to overlook the whole set up.