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Kathrin Eder - Production Designer - "BMF", "Hellraiser"

In this episode I speak with Production Designer Kathrin Eder. Originally from Austria, Kathrin started out as an artist assistant and stumbled into working on a commercial and fell in love with the art department. Hustling her way up in positions in the art department and the set dec department she is now Production Designing film and tv series. Kathrin's work on the reboot of Clive Barker's 1987 horror classic "Hellraiser" in 2022 helped to create a world that was both terrifying and captivating. Her designs for the film's iconic puzzle box, the Lament Configuration, helped to establish a visual language that has become synonymous with the "Hellraiser" franchise. Her use of lighting and texture helped to create a sense of unease throughout the film, and her attention to detail helped to bring the story to life in a visually stunning way. In addition to her work on "Hellraiser", Kathrin has also worked on the Starz show "BMF", designing Detroit in the 80’s for the story of brothers who create their own mafia family.


[00:15:37] The Austrian art community is aristocratic and small, with a preconceived notion of needing connections to succeed. Los Angeles artists are open and share ideas freely, with no need to intellectualize everything. The writer found themselves better suited to the Los Angeles scene. [00:18:46] The author's ex-boyfriend discouraged her from becoming a screenwriter due to lack of wealth, so she became an artist assistant and eventually fell in love with production design after working on a comcast commercial as an intern. She worked for free on a shoot and the production company made up a fake invoice to pay her. [00:20:10] The speaker started in the film industry as a production designer and later became a PA, set dresser, and onward. They gained experience working on short films at UCLA, USC, and AFI. Finally, they got their first feature film with a $2,000 budget, where they did everything from special effects to being an extra. [00:24:19] Approach to Hellraiser as a drama. Drew on themes of addiction, pain, seduction, and torture in a broader context of society. Creation of complex backstory for the villain. Deals with themes that are deeply personal on many levels and universal. [00:38:00] Serbia has talented individuals, especially those who pursued education during the war. Cultural differences were a challenge, but the set design talent and ability to integrate various skills were impressive. Despite some difficulties with production, the overall experience was great and led to making valuable contacts and finding potential crew members for future projects. [00:42:40] The show's base is in Atlanta, but they wanted to film in Detroit. Budget constraints and incentives made it difficult, so they filmed in Atlanta and tried to capture the essence of Detroit. They visited Detroit for a week in the first season and almost ten days in the second season. [00:52:22] Creating larger than life mentors in season one of Making Mentors to break away from generational poverty concept and staying truthful to a realistic element. K Nine set had exaggerated textures and pillars, gold leaf, and heavy ceiling beams that looked like a fantasy movie. Refinement could have been done with more time, but it was effective. Set decorator was Hernand Camacho. [00:57:47] Designing a house based on the memories and history of a family facing generational poverty and using items brought home by the father instead of money. Tied into a greater symbolic representation. [01:00:35] Creating the perfect custom printed tile required many samples. Production design involves putting oneself in the shoes of others and constantly curating, shaping, and questioning the tonality of a project. Dressing objects in a natural way for the people who live in a space, rather than for the camera, is the goal. [01:07:14] Projects pick us, allowing us to deal with personal questions, and we should not compare ourselves to others in the industry.

[00:15:37] "From Austrian aristocracy to LA openness"

[00:18:46] "From Art Assistant to Production Designer: My Journey"

[00:20:10] From Set Dresser to Production Designer: Journey

[00:24:19] "Approaching Hellraiser: A Reboot's Creative Process"

[00:38:00] Serbia's tremendous talent amazes Hollywood producer.

[00:42:40] Base in Atlanta, Detroit Inspires Show's Setting

[00:52:22] "Breaking Generational Poverty Through Larger-Than-Life Characters"

[00:57:47] Nostalgic Memories Inspire Home Design Magic.

[01:00:35] "The Art of Production Design: Balancing Realism and Filmmaking"

[01:07:14] "Projects Find Us: Embracing Opportunities Without Comparison"


1. What is the speaker's background and how did they get into production design?Answer: The speaker started as a PA and set dresser before working their way up to a coordinator position. They also teamed up with master class students to learn more about production design while pursuing their own projects.

2. What inspired the speaker to pursue horror as a genre for their projects?Answer: The original Hellraiser film was an important work for its time that explored themes such as BDSM and homosexuality, and the speaker found that the horror genre allowed for exploration of deeply personal themes of emotion.

3. How did the editor of the new Hellraiser film approach the script?Answer: The editor focused on understanding the characters and their interactions with the world rather than on creating horror effects.

4. What themes does the new Hellraiser film explore?Answer: The film explores addiction, pain, seduction, and the history of torture and sensation in the context of globalization and social networking.


Exploring Curiosity in Los Angeles: "Artists in the States can just explore curiosity, and artists were much more open in Los Angeles. There's not this need to be very protective about your ideas. There's just this open sharing."— Kathrin Eder 00:15:3700:17:09

From artist assistant to production design: "And at some point, those two fine artists said, cat, you love film and you love art. Why don't you go into production design at the art department?"— Kathrin Eder 00:18:4600:20:04

From Onset Dresser to Production Designer: "And I realized that if you look at my path as in terms of mythology, that was the moment that production design and the art department chose me, and I just fell in love."— Kathrin Eder 00:20:1000:21:49

Approaching Hellraiser with Realism and Personal Emotional Themes: "What Hellraiser allows me to do is same with other... is that you get to deal with themes and subjects that are deeply personal on many levels because we're dealing with universal themes of emotion."— Kathrin Eder 00:24:1900:28:11

Exploring Serbia's Art Department Talent: "I have to say, I've never seen such poetic and beautiful set design before. Brilliant. And we also, in terms of illustration and concept art and the ability to integrate set design, a 2D drawing and take it all the way to VRAY or set animation, that a lot of people have those talents in one person."— Kathrin Eder 00:38:0000:40:51

Filming in Atlanta vs. Detroit: "We decided early on to really bring as much of Detroit as possible to Atlanta and for the main world, building parts like the hero house and very specific staples that define so much of their identity as children and as teenagers and as the adults that they broke away from Detroit, of us."— Kathrin Eder 00:42:4000:44:41

Creating larger than life characters in a realistic element: "And that was really the first liberty in season one of making mentors that came to the brothers, giving them a bigger than life flair and, okay, how can we branch away from the concept of generational poverty that we created with a sense of claustrophobia that the boys really need to break out of and grow out of? How do we create those characters while staying truthful to a realistic element? Create them in a larger than life environment."— Kathrin Eder 00:52:2200:53:41

The Symbolism of Generational Poverty in Home Design: "It really tied into, I think, on a greater symbolic level. It's a representation of what generational poverty becomes and represents. It's kind of this home that's not complete and that's not always safe, but that has a lot of warmth and integrity at the same time."— Kathrin Eder 00:57:4700:59:12

"The Fine Balance of Production Design: Our job is really we put ourselves into the shoes of other people, and that's it. That's what we do. And that's what we need to constantly curate and shape and educate and question, are we doing it right?"— Kathrin Eder 01:00:3501:02:00

"The Significance of Allowing Projects to Find Us: Projects find us and that allows me sometimes to not weep over opportunities that I missed. And it also helps us to not compare ourselves too much with others."— Kathrin Eder


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