Home > Courses > Discussions About A Career In Cinema: Dennis J. Washington, Production Designer

Discussions About A Career In Cinema: Dennis J. Washington, Production Designer

Production designer J. Dennis Washington counts more than 30 feature film credits going back to Stand By Me and Prizzi’s Honor, through The Fugitive, Angels in the Outfield and Thirteen Days. Interviewed on the set of Nebraska, Washington talks about the people skills necessary to succeed in the filmmaking arena, placing their importance at least as high as talent. He talks about how production design and cinematography dovetail, the most common misconceptions in younger filmmakers, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

0:00 – Career beginnings, from architecture to the art department at MGM

1:45 – The most helpful qualities in coming up – personality plus talent

3:02 – How production design dovetails with cinematography; working with DPs

5:30 – The impact of the digital intermediate; working in black and white

6:12 – Managing the work-life balance; making choices

9:45 – Managing the financial ups and downs of the lifestyle

12:01 – Filmmaking has many avenues – avoid tunnel vision

13:40 – Networking can be fun; interesting people

14:17 – Making the nomad life livable

15:54 – Getting through and avoiding negative work experiences

18:18 – The most common misconceptions among beginning filmmakers

20:50 – Maintaining your vision while blending it with the work of others

21:35 – Constant change requires constant adaptation

22:35 – Thoughts on production design for Nebraska

 23:20 – The impact of technological changes on production design and collaboration