Ernestine Hipper - Set Decorator - "All Quiet on the Western Front", "Tar", Oscars
Oscar Winner Talk about "All Quiet on the Western Front" ...interview a week before her win.
On this episode, I speak with set decorator Ernestine Hipper, who is nominated this year for best Production Design for her workon the film All Quiet on the Western Front. She has been nominated this award season for the ADG and the BAFTA and nominated for an ADGand on the SDSA Award for her decoration of Tar. So she's really hitting it out of there. Ballpark the dramatic differences in her work in thesetwo films in one year show the scope of her enormous talent, but it also shows how versatile a set decorator's career can be. I think that's reallyimportant, too. And we talk a little bit about that. She was so kind to speak with me. She's in Thailand. She's being eaten by mosquitoes whilewe're talking. And she's genuinely just humble and grateful and the recognition of her peers. She was super excited about the awards. So it washumbling for me to get a chance to speak with her, especially with the schedule that she has.
[00:14:39] Filming of war movie had budget constraints and weather limitations. Research started before Christmas and shooting began 10 weeks later.
[00:18:59] They bought trucks, dismantled them for safety reasons and used rubber spikes for a movie in 2016.
[00:21:16] Movie scenes were meticulously planned with every department, including costumes and props. The warfield scenes had to be shot in six weeks due to time constraints, resulting in careful cataloguing of every angle and operator.
[00:25:34] Actress struggles emotionally with role in a historical movie about the Holocaust.
[00:27:15] Approach the war like a well-made documentary to avoid emotional attachment while filming, but this technique backfired.
[00:32:52] A prop house was rented to obtain costumes and props for a film set in World War I, where the colors had to match historically accurate color codes for various countries' military items. Some items from 1917 were also obtained, and horse props were used.
[00:35:56] Had to build prop cannons out of plastic tubes for a film scene.
[00:48:10] The character's heightened sense of hearing was meant to be a result of her parents' hearing impairments, but this detail was not emphasized in the story. The podcast editor created a "psychogram" of the character's family history and background, including their Hungarian roots, in order to design the character's apartment and create a working-class feel for the story's setting on Staten Island.
[00:55:52] The text talks about efforts to obtain rights to use the name and artwork of a bankrupt arts management company called Kami for a movie, which included finding the rights owners of the artworks.
[01:04:13] Actress learned how to conduct, led orchestra with support, detected out-of-tune playing.
"When you're on the warfield and somebody tries to move something, they have nails sticking out. I don't want to be in charge for having somebody being hurt."— Ernestine Hipper
"Every single scene was choreographed through with every department."— Ernestine Hipper
How to Distance Yourself from Emotional Content: "You have to see it as a documentary, a really well made documentary, because a war like this will never, ever happen again. When a trenches under those circumstances will never happen again."— Ernestine Hippe
Kim Wannop [00:00:07]:
Decorating Pages is a podcast dedicated to taking you behind the scenes of the designs of your favorite TV shows and films. Each episode, I'll be sharing design stories from some of Hollywood's most famous sets, interviews from set decorators, production designers, directors and actors about creating the lookup, TV and film about their design inspirations and stories that take sets from page to screen. Hello, and welcome to Decorating Pages. I'm your host, Kim Wanup. How's you doing? It is cold and rainy in La. Lately, and it's been nice to sleep in. Not gonna lie. Well, not that much because I got the puppy and I got the kids. But, like, pretending to sleep in or pretending to take naps is nice. Yeah. And then I got the boys into, like, let's have a movie night, or let's they don't like to take nap on mommy days. So then I said, like, oh, let's watch a movie. We watch Superman two, Superman three, which probably wasn't probably good for their age. And I did actually fall asleep in that. So I forget. With Richard Pryor. What happened? I hope they're not scarred by that. I think they'll be all right. But all day long, constantly just humming that Superman song now. So I've really done it to myself. But we are knee deep in award season. It's almost coming to an end with this Sunday being Oscars. And one of the awards that happened in the past week were the costume awards, which I always find fantastic because of the costume designers on that red carpet. They are just given it and they love it, and they're out and about. And there was a lot of naked without us going on their campaign to be paid more. Go, girls, go, boys, go. Everyone get paid. Do it. I hope you get it. So some of their winners period film was Elvis. Period television was the crown. Contemporary film was glass onion. Contemporary TV was Wednesday. Excellent short form design.
Kim Wannop [00:02:36]:
Kim Wannop [00:02:37]:
Yeah, lizzo one fantasy film everything, everywhere, all at once. Fantasy was House of Dragon. So, yeah, beautiful. I love House of Dragon costumes, man. The details in those costumes are unreal. Which brings me to what I'm watching this week. This is crazy to me because the Chris Rock special came out on Netflix called selective Outrage. And after watching it, I can't believe that there's not more hype around it because he really talks about what happened at the Oscars with Will Smith hitting him. And I thought there would be more like, oh, he's finally talking about it type articles out there, but I couldn't really find anything. He's always poignant, always makes you think. And he's clever, and I've always loved his comedy and he's very honest of like, yeah, I loved Will Smith, and now I got summertime ringing in my ear, like things like that. It's fantastic. His humor is so well crafted. I just really enjoyed it and was super happy that he acknowledged it and was adult about it. So that's on Netflix. I recommend that to everyone because he's always hilarious. Did a little throwback. Did daw day afternoon. I don't know why I love that. Was it Jim? John Kezebel. God, I know. You know the guy. He was in deer hunter. And Fredo, basically. I'm talking about Fredo. He poor thing. He died of cancer. I think he was engaged to Meryl Streep at the time, I believe, and or they had broken up. But yeah, I think lung cancer or something. What a phenomenal actor in the had so many great roles. And then Dollar Day Afternoon, I can I was really focusing on how much they're sweating because, remember, they turned the air off in the bank trying to suss them out. And like, man, Al Pacino was just sweating in the whole film. And I didn't remember before how great Chris Sarandon is in that movie. His transsexual lover. He's really good and really subtle. I just found his performance really good this time around when I watched it. Production designed by Charles Bailey and set decorated by Robert Drumheller. It's such a great movie. I don't know. And it's I forgot to look up if the guy got out because at the end they said he got 20 years, which means he would have been out in, like, late 90s or something. So it's crazy. I am watching, of course, The Last of US production designed by John Peno and set decorated by Paul Healey. And I'm watching the mandalorian. And I have two really poignant points to make. First of all, Pedro Pascal is basically the same person in both shows. He's caring after a little child. He's caring after little Yoda or Gregor, whatever his name is. And then he's taking care of Ellie in The Last of US. So he's kind of playing the same role in it. He's great. He's great. I love him. Love him. The other thing is, in Mandalorian, I don't really think it's him. Are you telling me he's standing around in a mask for every scene? He doesn't have, like, a double that stands in for him and then they just throw his voice in there's no way. He's standing there the whole time. I don't believe that it's him. Especially the fight scenes and all that shit. I don't know. I tried to look if it was, like, his walk, but couldn't really tell. But, yeah, that occurred to me last night. I was watching the first episode of The Mandalorian season three, which the little summary of it in the beginning is the Mandalorian sets out on an important adventure. Well, no shit. Wasn't that like season one? Why is that the tagline for season three?
Kim Wannop [00:07:04]:
It didn't make sense to me.
Kim Wannop [00:07:06]:
But, yeah, he's the same character in both shows, basically. And I don't think it's him. That's all I'm saying. I still like it. I still like the show. I still think it's fantastically done. I was trying to look it up. I think the production designer this season is Doug Chang. And then set decorator Amanda Moss Serino. I'm not sure. I might be saying that wrong, but I looked it up and I think they only had season two credits in there. But yeah, that's what I came up with. Now, in other news, to put another thing on my plate, me and some friends I have some friends, we're going to have a film club. And isn't that fun? It's like we're in the 60s or something. It's like we're in college film school. But a couple of friends of mine were thinking about, oh, that's a great movie. Oh, I hadn't seen that. Oh, I really love this. Oh, this makes me think of that and blah, blah, blah. So me and some friends are going to do like two movies a month and then probably just drink and have some discussion about it.
Kim Wannop [00:08:10]:
I don't know how it's going to.
Kim Wannop [00:08:10]:
Go and how long it's going to last. We're kind of getting really into it because none of them are working. So I'm sure once we're all working, we'll be like, what? I don't have time for that.
Kim Wannop [00:08:24]:
But yeah, because.
Kim Wannop [00:08:29]:
I miss the excitement of films and everything. And I haven't seen everything. And there's so many things that resonate with other people. And you want to know why? Like, why did you love that? Why did you watch that 17 times? So speaking of for this interview, I had to again watch All Quiet on the Western Front. And it's a rough watch, man. I don't know. It's like just every second, I think I'll never let my kids go to war. But I do have a fantastic little interview here for you with Ernestine Hipper, who is really on a streak. All quiet on the Western Front and tar. I mean, it's fantastic. So on this episode, I speak with set decorator Ernestine Hipper, who is nominated this year for best Production Design for her work on the film All Quiet on the Western Front. She has been nominated this award season for the ADG and the BAFTA and nominated for an ADG and on the SDSA Award for her decoration of Tar. So she's really hitting it out of there. Ballpark the dramatic differences in her work in these two films in one year show the scope of her enormous talent, but it also shows how versatile a set decorator's career can be. I think that's really important, too. And we talk a little bit about that. She was so kind to speak with me. She's in Thailand. She's being eaten by mosquitoes while we're talking. And she's genuinely just humble and grateful and the recognition of her peers. She was super excited about the awards. So it was humbling for me to get a chance to speak with her, especially with the schedule that she has. And yeah, so I hope you enjoyed.
Kim Wannop [00:10:43]:
Which is always for the Oscars, I believe. I believe.
Ernestine Hipper [00:10:47]:
I think also production designers vote for us.
Kim Wannop [00:10:51]:
Yeah, I think it's just your peer group votes for that category.
Ernestine Hipper [00:10:57]:
Oh, my God. Yeah, but see, all of my fellow nominees are like my idols. I mean, Jesus, Rick, all of the people. It's like, oh my God, I've been watching the movies for 20 years. They're my heroes. I know my name even on the same page with them. So I'm really just very honored and grateful. More than grateful, to be honest, this way. And I don't need to win it because it is enough to be honest. It is truly enough to get this much attention and to get this. For me, we never, ever thought we would get anything really Netflix. Now, regret, do I have a making off team or they didn't have a set photographer, didn't have any of this because I thought this is just going to go on streaming. And that's it.
Kim Wannop [00:11:55]:
Well, I talk about that a lot, about the let down. That's kind of a let down. When you work for streaming and it's released and you're like poof.
Ernestine Hipper [00:12:07]:
It's kind of like Netflix saw the rushes and saw what this movie is going to be. They said, oh my God, we better get this thing on cinemas so maybe we get some attention because it's worth it. But this all happened behind our backs. We just figured it's for streaming. It's for straight. For Netflix. It'll go straight on the streaming. How do you say this? Dentist.
Kim Wannop [00:12:35]:
Ernestine Hipper [00:12:38]:
And that's why we were only eight Germans in the art department who made this movie.
Kim Wannop [00:12:46]:
That's insane. That's insane to me. Because one of my questions is you must have had an army. I can't even believe how much you guys produced for set for this.