'Experience life and discover why you want to be a production designer' with Scott Chambliss

Renowned for his work on the Oscar winning Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2 award winning production designer Scott Chambliss talks to Mandy News about how he got into production design and his experiences working on the up and coming movie Godzilla - King of the Monsters.

21st January 2019
/ By James Collins

Production design for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 IMDB

How did you get involved in Production Design?

It was a natural migration. After working in New York as a set and costume designer on Broadway and the regional theatre circuit I became interested in designing for film.  Pursuing that interest led me to Los Angeles, where I’ve been based ever since.

How did you get involved with Godzilla - King of the Monsters?  

Writer/director Michael Daugherty and his writing partner Zach Shields looked at my resume and decided they wanted to meet me.  Michael told me later that they figured a designer who could handle J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, Jon Favreau, and Phillip Noyce could probably handle them…ha!

What is the approach to working on something on such a large scale, what's the timeline for something like this?

You start with the big picture and then over time carefully pull your focus more and onto the details of the task.  Prep alone can take from six to nine months before shooting on a project of this scale.

You have also worked on mega franchises like Marvel's Guardians... and Star Trek. Are there rules to how you can operate within these worlds and how do you operate within these boundaries but still bring something fresh and new?

Marvel apparently has rules as their products are all so similar. But even in such a context it is always the task of the director and designer to find together the qualities that make their project unique. Otherwise why bother? In the case of Star Trek, J.J.’s and my self-imposed guidelines were to treat the intentions of Roddenberry’s source material with respect, make the story current and accessible to contemporary audiences…and make the film as gorgeous as humanly possible!

***** Read our interview with production designer Scott P.Murphy*****

What is coming up next for you?

That’s always top secret!

What advice do you have for up-and-coming Production Designers?

Getting a degree in the discipline is a shallow foundation. Go out and experience life in the world and discover why you want to be a production designer in the first place. Our job is to be articulate visual storytellers, and you can’t be that without stories of your own to tell!

Would you like to become a production designer? Browse our latest production designer jobs we currently have available on Mandy.com.