Behind Banshees of Inisherin, Empire of Light Production Design – The Hollywood Reporter

In recent years, British production designer Mark Tildesley has gained recognition in such films No time to die, Two Popes And Phantom thread. This season, she’s created two different period looks for a pair of films from Searchlight that are creating awards buzz.

Sam Mendes’ Kingdom of Light Mostly set in a vintage movie theater in a sparsely populated English seaside town in the early 1980s. It was hard to find such a location for a period drama starring Olivia Colman and Michael Ward. “We covered the entire south coast [of England], here it was originally written and we couldn’t find it. It’s very developed,” Tyldesley recalls, pointing to Margate, a seaside town on Kent’s north coast. “We got to Margate, and at the end of this wonderful sandy bay was this old cinema. It was a wonderful building because, in a way, it wasn’t particularly British, it was [more] Americana. It has wonderful deco curves that you associate with cinema and dreams and wonder.

The Dreamland Margate cinema was empty and available, and after meticulous research and work prepared by Tildesley and his team, it gave Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins the perfect setting to photograph the story. The old cinema became the exterior and was additionally used for some interiors.

Interior of Empire Cinema Kingdom of Light.

Courtesy of Searchlight

The cinema lobby and additional interiors were built in a nearby building based on historical studies. “There’s a language in those theaters,” says the production designer. “For example, when you go up the grand staircase, there’s a huge chandelier above you, which we actually got from an old cinema in Glasgow. We couldn’t buy it because they wanted it back, but we borrowed it and renovated it.

Tildesley was tasked with researching and re-creating 1923 Ireland for Martin McDonaghs. Banshees of Inishrein, which is a lens in and around the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. “The first challenge McDonagh put on the art department was that he wanted to make this movie somehow modern and colorful and not like a classic, dreary black-and-white movie,” says Tildesley. “Actually, what you see is period research on the Aron Islands [reflected] in costumes and [decor, involves] Really strong colors. He used a really beautiful indigo blue color. And they had a brilliant red color, almost like blood red and yellow. So the deal is to try and really get into museums and dig up some real color from the times. [This film has] Such a bold color palette, this was a period film.

Tildesley's drawing for Empire Lobby.

Tildesley’s drawing for Empire Lobby.

Courtesy of Searchlight

The story follows Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) and Padraic Suillebain (Colin Farrell) – two friends in crisis living in a remote village. Suillebain’s house was built on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands; And Doherty’s home was an existing whaler’s cottage on Keem Beach on Achill Island, north of Galway.

Brendan Gleeson as Colm Doherty.

Brendan Gleeson as Colm Doherty.

Courtesy of Searchlight

Of the different items housed inside Colm’s home, Tildesley says: “In our background, he’s one of the great fiddlers on the west coast of Ireland, meaning people come to him to learn how to play and listen to them. songs. So, in a way, there are contacts through letters or people sending him things. We’re not trying to make him too sophisticated, but give him a sense of being something else and doing something else. He had a fascination with storytelling and puppetry and music and culture. That eventually gives him some clue to distance himself from Padraic when they come to their disagreement.

The interior of Colm's home, produced by production designer Mark Tildesley, conveys its own sense of sophistication despite his rural upbringing.

The interior of Colm’s home, produced by production designer Mark Tildesley, conveys its own sense of sophistication despite his rural upbringing.

Courtesy of Searchlight

Colm’s house had a major challenge, Tyldesley adds: “We had to burn it down, so we had to convince the family who had owned it for a long time that we could build on top of their existing building and then burn down ours. Protect theirs. The interior is the actual interior of their whale hut, and the exterior is a fire we built. is an insulating shell [to encase] His building.”

The visual effects team created a controlled fire for the scene, but Tyldesley admits that “the owner was worried when you saw it at night”.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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